Staten Island’s Freight Rail: Back from the Brink with Don Lotz | Virtual Program | Friday, October 30

October 30, 2020 12:30 pm EDT

Because New York City lacks any freight rail crossing of the Hudson River, Staten Island is the lone borough that is connected to the rest of the country’s freight rail network. Today the rail and container facilities there are vital to the port’s operations, but in the 1990’s, 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.

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Lighting the Way: Staten Island’s National Lighthouse Museum | Episode 129

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From the Civil War through the 1960’s, a site next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal served as the central depot supplying America’s lighthouses and Aids to Navigation. Join us for a virtual visit with historian Wade Goria to the National Lighthouse Museum, which tells the story of this essential service and the people, equipment, and structures that have kept America’s shipping channels safe.

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U-Boats, Bootleggers, and Buoys: The History of the Coast Guard in New York Harbor | Episode 119

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To mark the 230th birthday of the United States Coast Guard, we’re looking back at the history of the “always ready” service. Due to New York’s position as one of the country’s largest ports, the Coast Guard has ensured its safety and security for more than two centuries, and today they have the largest presence of any military service branch in New York City. We will share stories of the Coast Guard fighting U-boats in both World Wars, hunting bootleggers during Prohibition, and ensuring the safe navigation of the harbor for everybody from container ships to kayakers. We will also be joined by Coast Guard veteran Ramon Ortiz, who served aboard the icebreaking tug USCGC Sturgeon Bay and in Coast Guard Sector New York.

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The Melvilles and Sailors’ Snug Harbor: A Story of New York | Episode 118

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By the time he published Moby-Dick in 1851, Herman Melville’s career as a popular prose writer was almost over. While Melville was working on the docks as a customs inspector to support his family, his younger brother Thomas was across the harbor with one of the best jobs in New York City: governor of Staten Island’s Sailors’ Snug Harbor. Join this virtual program to celebrate Herman’s 201st birthday with John Rocco, a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Coordinator of the Maritime and Naval Studies (MNST) Master’s program at SUNY Maritime College, who will introduce us to the Melville brothers’ relationship and its impact on Melville’s “lost” years and final work, Billy Budd, Sailor.

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“Mind the Light, Kate”: New York’s Most Famous Lighthouse Keeper with the Noble Maritime Collection | Episode 70

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“Mind the Light, Kate.” From 1890 to 1919, Kate Walker honored this request from her dying husband as he was taken from their home, the lighthouse on Robbins Reef just off Staten Island’s North Shore in New York Harbor. Megan Beck, Curator at the Noble Maritime Collection, joins us to share the story of this remarkable woman who saved dozens of shipwrecked sailors while raising a family alone on a tiny island in the middle of the world’s busiest port. We’ll also get a peek inside this rarely visited site for a glimpse at the Noble Maritime Collection’s ongoing restoration project.

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Comfort at Sea: History of Hospital Ships in New York City

The hospital ship USNS Comfort is en route to New York City. One of just two hospital ships in the Navy fleet, it has been dispatched from Norfolk, while its sister ship Mercy recently arrived in Los Angeles. Comfort will dock at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal (and some dredging is required to fit the converted oil tanker into the berth), while the counterpart Red Hook Cruise Terminal is being converted into one of the city’s five emergency hospitals, along with the Javits Center, Bronx Expo Center, Queens Aqueduct, and the College of Staten Island (which, coincidentally, sits on the former site of Halloran Hospital, the Army’s largest hospital in World War II).

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Joining the Fleet Week Parade of Ships

Since Fleet Week returned to New York City after a sequestration-imposed hiatus in 2013, I have watched the annual parade of ships from underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which gives you a good vantage point on the Navy and Coast Guard vessels as they pass through the channel into the Upper Bay. This year, however, I got the opportunity to actually be in the parade thanks to the New York Council of the Navy League.>> Continue reading

Aircraft Carrier Visits Now a Rare Sight in NYC

Last week, New York City was visited by the flagship of the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth. This 65,000-ton carrier has spent several weeks in the US while undergoing flight testing with the F-35B fighter, which will be the primary component of its air wing. The seven-day stopover in New York was mostly for crew R-and-R, though the ship also hosted the Atlantic Future Forum on cybersecurity.

New York City is home to the Intrepid, permanently docked on the Hudson River and home to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, and the city still hosts Fleet Week every year around Memorial Day (with some exceptions), but aircraft carriers have not been part of the festivities for over a decade. Let’s take a look back at some of the floating airfields that have visited the city.>> Continue reading

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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Food Trucks Helping Communities Recover from Sandy

Wafels and Dinges truck in New Dorp

As we all know by now, the actual wind, rain, and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy this weekend were only the beginning. Thousands of people have lost their homes, and whole swaths of neighborhoods have been destroyed. As the weather gets colder this week, it’s more important than ever for those without shelter and power to get hot meals.

Thanks to the New York City Food Truck Association, along with generous help from JetBlue, a number of New York’s best food trucks have been able to provide hot meals to people in need, despite gas shortages and limited road service. Last week, trucks started appearing to donate food to the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan that were still without power, and they served over 20,000 meals. But as news reports started coming in about the massive devastation in areas like Staten Island and the Rockaways, the food trucks turned their engines to the communities that needed it most.>> Continue reading