The Waterfront Museum presents the final session of The Tideshift Project, featuring stories of waterfront workers from the pre-containerization era and people working in today’s final mile shipping industry. Tideshift is a three-part series of oral history collecting events presented live, virtually, and in person aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored at 290 Conover St in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In this series of events, The Waterfront Museum has recorded stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook, and from their descendants. In this episode, we were joined by waterfront veterans Geof Gaertner and Gaetano Pennisi, who both worked from the 1960s through the 1980s on docks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey during the transition from breakbulk to containerized cargo.
The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Waterfront Museum presents the Barge Family Reunion Celebration, stories and images from people who have lived and worked aboard barges and their families. This is the second part of The Tideshift Project, a three-part series of oral history collecting events presented live, virtually, and in person aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored at 290 Conover St in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In this series of events, The Waterfront Museum will record stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook and from their descendants. The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Waterfront workers were at the vanguard of the labor movement; the word “strike” has its origins in work stoppages on the London docks in 1768, when sailors “struck” the sails of ships to keep them in port. In New York, skilled shipworkers organized some of the earliest trade associations, and they agitated for steady wages and reduced working hours as far back as the 1820s. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, federal regulations and political patronage often stifled workers’ ability to strike, but by the time of World War II, the massive workforce of the Yard was heavily unionized, and the good-paying jobs would form the backbone of Brooklyn’s middle class. In this virtual program, we will examine the long history of labor organizing at the Yard, how workers fought for their rights in the absence of formal unions, and how the unions ultimately proved powerless against changing politics and economics of the shipbuilding industry in New York.
The history and legacy of the Second World War can be seen all around us in Brooklyn. Once home to hundreds of factories, shipyards, and warehouses, and responsible for sending millions of service members off to the front lines, Brooklyn was arguably one of the most important communities in waging and winning the war. Using locations from communities across Brooklyn—including famous sites like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal, and lesser-known sites that help tell stories about labor, housing, and culture—as well as primary source documents and oral histories, this program will help illuminate Brooklynites’ experience of World War II.
The (Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History series brings the fascinating work of historians to an audience of students and educators through online presentations and resources for sustained engagement with local history topics.
To celebrate the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s 221st birthday, which takes place during Black History Month, we’re looking at the past and present of Black trailblazers and innovators at the Yard. Join this panel discussion as we examine the vital role played by Black sailors and shipworkers since 1801, and how the Yard has been an engine for economic empowerment since it became a city-owned industrial park in 1969. We will be joined by entrepreneurs, artists, and craftspeople in the Yard today, as well as staff from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. Special guests will include Kyiesha Kelly of Hip Hop Closet and Gina Riley of Rebel Designs.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day as we share some of our favorite love stories from history from the places that we work. We will share long-distance love letters from World War II, milestone weddings in Prospect Park, workplace romances at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and people who found their loves in public markets. We will share artifacts, newspaper clippings, oral histories, and more from various archives, and we invite participants to share their own love stories and family histories in this Zoom meeting.
Celebrate Navy Day with a discussion of one of the least-known units of World War II, the Navy Armed Guard. Serving in the U-boat-infested waters of the Atlantic, these sailors served in small detachments aboard merchant ships manning the deck guns. This virtual program will be hosted from the Sunset Park waterfront, where many sailors departed from the docks of the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Bush Terminal, and where the largest Armed Guard Center in the country was located, the Second Battalion Naval Militia Armory that once stood on 1st Avenue and 52nd Street. We will discuss the creation and evolution of the service during World War II, listen to oral histories of Armed Guard sailors, and visit one of the few memorials to the sacrifices of these brave men.
Photo Credit: Official US Navy photograph, taken by Clarence F. Korker
The Waterfront Museum presents The Tideshift Project, an oral history collecting event presented live aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored in Red Hook, Brooklyn. This three-part series will record stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook, and from their descendants. This first event featured interviews with waterfront workers who lived and worked through the transition to containerization, including James McNamara, Robert Hansen, and Gregory “Buddy” Cox in conversation with Stefan D-W.
These are free events and donations to the Waterfront Museum are welcome. The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
New York City’s working waterfront has been widely associated with crime and corruption at least since On The Waterfront hit movie screens in 1954, but the story goes back further. Nathan Ward, author of Dark Harbor: The War for the New York Waterfront and CUNY scholar Joseph Sciorra join us to reveal the story of Pete Panto, a longshoreman who took a stand against the mob bosses. Though Panto paid the ultimate price, his death initiated a long struggle toward waterfront reform.
For almost a century, New Jersey’s Morris Canal fueled New York City with anthracite coal from northeast Pennsylvania, but now for nearly another century, the abandoned canal has been all but obliterated from the landscape. Join us as Tim Roth of the Canal Society of New Jersey helps uncover this lost canal, its innovative design, and its vital role in the history of New York City. Our discussion will also look at the lives of the people who worked that waterway, and current efforts to return its remnants to public view.