USS Slater Celebrates History of Destroyer Escorts

USS Slater at Caddell Dry Dock. Credit: Cindy VandenBosch

As I write this, the USS Slater, a World War II-era destroyer escort, is steaming its way (actually, being pushed by a tugboat) up the Hudson River back to its usual home in Albany. For the past 12 weeks, the Slater has been a visitor to New York City, laid up for repairs at Staten Island’s Caddell Dry Dock.

Since 1997, the Slater has been a been a museum ship, showcasing the important history of these humble vessels. More than 500 destroyer escorts were built in World War II, and Slater is one the last still afloat. But in order to continue to share the story of these ships and the men who served aboard them, Slater was in need of some repair work, including repairing the hull, interior spaces, and the anchor chain. The project cost roughly $1.3 million dollars, and probably would have cost a lot more were it not for the countless hours donated by volunteers (read about their work in the latest newsletter).>> Continue reading

D-Day Landings and Brooklyn Navy Yard Ships

Around the world today, people are commemorating the anniversary of D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in history. The landings finally cracked open “Fortress Europe” and marked the beginning of the end of the war with Germany. World leaders, including President Obama, gathered in Normandy today, joined by veterans of the pivotal battle, who’s numbers are shrinking dramatically with each passing anniversary.

We remember and honor the heroism of the soldiers who waded through the surf or dropped in by parachute, pouring 150,000 Allied personnel into France in just the first day, and establishing a vital toehold on the continent that would allow in millions more. But D-Day was not just a triumph of courage or valor or military strategy – it was a triumph of industrial might and human labor, bringing the full force of the Allies’ factories, farms, and shipyards onto a narrow stretch of beach. It’s important to remember, as the saying goes, the men (and women) behind the man behind the gun, and in this case, we remember the shipbuilders of Brooklyn.>> Continue reading

DNAinfo: WWII Boat Cruise Shows Off City’s Harbor History for Fleet Week

DNAinfo New York, May 21, 2014

by Matthew Katz

A historical boat cruise will let New Yorkers get up a close look at the city’s maritime past during the World War II.

For both Fleet Week and Memorial Day, Classic Harbor Lines and Turnstile Tours will let passengers sail from Chelsea Piers past the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal, and learn the history of the harbor during WWII.

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Fleet Week NYC 2014 Calendar of Events

 

Celebrate Fleet Week NYC 2014 with these tours, parades, public programs, and other special events around New York City. Don’t forget to check out our special Fleet Week Harbor Tours, as well as our tours at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

All of Turnstile Tours’ programs for Fleet Week are marked with ➡ .

TUESDAY 5/20  • WEDNESDAY 5/21 • THURSDAY 5/22 • FRIDAY 5/23 • SATURDAY 5/24 • SUNDAY 5/25 • MONDAY 5/26>> Continue reading

Adams, Jefferson, and the Unlikely Founding of the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Two hundred and thirteen years ago today, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was founded, the last of the six original shipyards established by the US Navy. Today we celebrate the yard’s history of shipbuilding and innovation, and its continued importance to the economy of Brooklyn as an industrial park, but it almost never existed. Its founding in 1801 was rife with controversy, and around it swirled one of the central political battles of the early American republic. Today the Navy is one of the cornerstones of American power – possessing 10 of the world’s 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and more than one-third of all the naval tonnage in the world, the US Navy is 3.5 times the size of its nearest competitors, China and Russia. But at the end of the 18th century, the American navy was small and, at times, a non-existent force. While it achieved some notable victories in the Revolutionary War over a far superior British adversary, by 1785, economic constraints forced the nascent republic to sell off the last of its warships.>> Continue reading

WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY Exhibit Reveals Brooklyn Navy Yard Stories of WWII

If you have not yet been to the Brooklyn Museum to see their stunning exhibition WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY, make no delay – the show closes on Sunday, February 2, when its three-city tour will also come an end.

Rather than arranging the works of journalistic, artistic, and combat photography by conflict or photographer, in this show they are instead arranged into thematic clusters that draw links between war’s common denominators through the ages.  Images range from the Crimean War of the 1850’s to present-day conflicts around the world.  And beside the images of fighting are those of the more mundane daily life in a war zone – “Camp Life,” “Leisure Time” – as well as the human costs beyond the battlefield – “Executions,” “POWs,” “Refugees.”>> Continue reading

Where Your Presents Came From: The Port of New York & New Jersey

By now all of us who celebrate Christmas have given and received our gifts.  While we all put a great deal of thought (hopefully) into finding the perfect present for our loved ones, we probably put considerably less into considering how that item arrived under the tree on Christmas morning (Santa-borne gifts excluded, of course).  The last leg of the journey, whether sorted by Amazon, or shipped by UPS or the Postal Service, is certainly a logistical marvel unto itself, but we’re more interested in the first leg – and if any of those gifts or any of their components were made overseas (and even some that were made domestically), there is a 95% chance that they made the better part of their journey to your home by ship.>> Continue reading

Support Turnstile Turtles in Gowanus Canal Race June 15

Turnstile Tours is truly multimodal – with tours by foot, bus, and bicycle, we’re now hopping into canoes!  On Saturday, June 15, our team will take to the murky, sheen-cloaked waters of Brooklyn’s beloved canal for the Gowanus Challenge canoe race.  The event is put on by the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club to raise money for their public education and paddling programs. You can help support the Dredgers by sponsoring our team, the Turnstile Turtles.  We’re aiming to raise $500 for the club, and any support you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  To make a contribution, visit the donation page, and make sure to write “Turnstile Turtles” in the “Designation” section.  Your donation will help the Dredgers continue to offer their education programs to local students, and to make their flotilla of canoes free for public use (see their schedule – free paddling times are usually Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons).>> Continue reading

The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s “Lincoln” Photo

One of our favorite photographs of the Brooklyn Navy Yard is affectionately referred to as the “Lincoln photo.” We will be examining this photo more closely, and the scene depicted in it, on Saturday’s Seasonal Photography Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

As far as we know, the man pictured in the foreground with the giant stovepipe hat and chin beard is not Abraham Lincoln. Though it sure does look like him – at least, the construction-paper-hat-and-beard Lincoln of our elementary school book reports.When this picture was taken in 1846, Lincoln was just a candidate for the House of Representatives from Illinois. Who that man is, we don’t know [Ed. note: See update below], but what is going on in the background of this picture would play a large role in the coming Civil War and the presidency of Mr. Lincoln.>> Continue reading

Merchant Marines, Unsung Heroes of World War II

While developing our new tour about the World War II history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we encountered a fascinating – and largely untold – history of the oft-forgotten service branch, the Merchant Marines. While the wartime exploits of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Army Air Corps are often celebrated, merchant seamen have received short shrift, both in the history books and in real life.

When we first offered the tour as a sneak preview for veterans and their families in early November, we were privileged to be joined by a veteran of the Merchant Marines who served in the Atlantic theater during the war, a gentleman by the name of Paul Mager. I do not use the word “veteran” lightly – while it may seem an obvious moniker to apply to someone who provided essential wartime service in the middle of a combat zone, that status had been denied to Mr. Mager and his compatriots for decades, so it holds particular meaning for them.>> Continue reading