While the Staten Island Ferry is the oldest continuously operating ferry line in New York City, the NYC Ferry to the island is the newest. Ride with us from the Javits Center to Battery Park City to St. George as we explore the highlights of the commute on both sides of the Hudson River and Lower New York Bay. We will zip past many museum ships, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Robbins Reef Lighthouse, and Bayonne’s container terminal. We will then take a stroll around the new ferry landing in St. George and discuss challenges and changes for Staten Island’s North Shore.
With the recent release of a feasibility study by the MTA on the “Interborough Express,” a little-known stretch of train tracks is suddenly in the news. The Bay Ridge Branch is a critical link in the freight rail network of New York Harbor and Long Island, carrying goods like construction materials, chemicals, and beer, and connecting with the Hell Gate Bridge and the city’s last cross-harbor rail barge terminal. This proposal would utilize the branch for both freight and commuter rail service, linking with the NYC subway and providing a direct route through southern and eastern Brooklyn and Queens without the need to travel through Manhattan. In this virtual program, we will look at the history of the Bay Ridge Branch, its current use and future potential, and its connection to the long-planned Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel.
Take a ride to the Bronx on this virtual tour of the Soundview Route on NYC Ferry, as we discuss important landmarks of NYC’s history of housing, food, and exclusion. Starting from Wall Street, we will cruise under the iconic East River bridges, stop in Stuyvesant Cove, and make our way up the river before heading into new waters for our virtual tours, past the Hell Gate and into mouth of Long Island Sound. We will discuss the history of the East River’s islands, many of which have been sites of exclusion and incarceration, including Roosevelt Island, Randalls Island, the Brother Islands, and of course Rikers Island. We will also see some of the city’s most critical infrastructure, including power plants, waste transfer stations, LaGuardia Airport, and the vast food distribution facility at Hunts Point, before landing in Soundview at the mouth of the beautiful but mistreated Bronx River.
On the Staten Island Ferry’s 115th birthday, we take a tour of the island’s North Shore waterfront. Seen by Staten Islanders as culturally distinct from the neighborhoods south of the expressway, the North Shore is home to the borough’s cultural and industrial centers, interspersed with forgotten villages and dilapidated mansions. But even here, gentrification and transit investments aim to remake the waterfront just as climate change increases its vulnerability.
On April 26, 1956 an oil tanker customized to carry standardized metal crates left Port Newark, NJ for Houston, TX, marking the first commercially successful containerized shipment. Over the next 30 years, containerized cargo would come to dominate the shipping industry and create a new global economy. Marc Levinson, author of The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, joins us to share the story of the shipping container and how it changed the world.
The Canal Society of New Jersey returns to our virtual program as Joe Macasek will share the history of the Delaware & Raritan Canal. While George Macculloch was working to complete his Morris Canal across the highlands of New Jersey, farther south men like Robert Stockton and Robert Stevens competed for control of a route across the narrow waist of the state. This route would give the winner access to potential profits from the coal trade and control of the already lucrative trade route between the country’s two greatest cities, New York and Philadelphia. Stockton wanted a canal and Stevens a railroad. In the end, the state legislature settled their differences by giving them both charters. Rather than compete, they formed a joint company that, for 30 years, monopolized transportation, introduced technical innovation, and wielded enormous political power.
Hit the slopes with us as we explore the history of downhill skiing in the United States. We will look at the introduction of modern skiing by Norwegian immigrants, the evolution of Alpine skiing disciplines and equipment, and the explosion of the sport’s popularity after World War II, thanks to veterans of the famed 10th Mountain Division. We will also look at local connections – though New Yorkers routinely flock to northern resorts, multiple New York City parks once hosted ski hills (including Prospect Park), and today you can ski indoors at the nearby Meadowlands. We will even have guests joining live from slopes at Vermont’s Smugglers Notch and Quechee Ski Area, near where the country’s first ski lift started spinning in 1934.
Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest and oldest lake, containing nearly one-fifth of all the world’s liquid fresh water. Located in Eastern Siberia, it is the heart of an ecologically and culturally diverse region. Turnstile Vice President Andrew Gustafson lived for more than a year in the nearby city of Irkutsk and has traveled around the lake in summer and winter. He will take us on a virtual tour of the lake, sharing the natural, cultural, and political history of region, as well as his insights on living and traveling in Siberia.
Because New York City lacks any freight rail crossing of the Hudson River, Staten Island is the lone borough with direct access to ports and rail lines west of the Hudson. Today the rail and container facilities there are vital to the port’s operations, but in the 1990s, this link was lost. Don Lotz, retired Manager of Intermodal Development for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (and long-time Turnstile Member), will join us to share his experience with this vital project. He will dig into the design and construction required to restore rail freight service to Staten Island, including rehabilitation of the Arthur Kill Vertical-Lift Bridge, which has the longest lift-span of any vertical lift bridge in the world, and the challenges this corner of the port – and all of New York City’s waterfront – faced due to massive changes to the manufacturing and shipping industries.