Ships, Shanties, and the Shamrock: Brooklyn’s 19th Century Irish Waterfront | Episode 199

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On March 17, 1863, the gunboat Shamrock was launched from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an event attended by more than 5,000 onlookers and tremendous fanfare. The christening of this ship was meant to recognize the contributions of Irish troops to the Union cause, but it also represented a watershed moment during the ascendancy of the Irish in the city’s waterfront trades. This program will examine the growth of Irish communities along the waterfront before and after the Civil War, look at the centers of civic life, including churches, pubs, and political clubs, some of which persist to this day, and learn about groundbreaking Irish admirals, engineers, and entrepreneurs that helped shape the city’s waterfront.

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Highlights of the Harbor: Shipyards

For more than 150 years, shipbuilding was a pre-eminent industry in New York City. Shipyards building clipper ships, steamboats, and naval frigates once engulfed the shoreline of Lower Manhattan in the early 19th century, bearing names like Brown, Bergh, Westervelt, and Webb, eventually spilling onto the Brooklyn side to form a massive shipbuilding complex on the East River. As the industry – and the city – grew, major shipyards could be found in all five boroughs and across the Hudson in New Jersey.
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