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.
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.
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.
Take a virtual ride with us on the South Brooklyn route of the NYC Ferry. We will board at Corlears Hook and examine the Brooklyn waterfront as we ride past DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and finally end in Bay Ridge. Along the way, we will look back at the industrial history of these neighborhoods and see some of the last vestiges of the industrial and working waterfront in Brooklyn, including the Red Hook Container Terminal, Erie Basin, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We will also discuss many of things to see and do near the ferry stops.
Join us for this special program, presented in partnership with the Transportation Institute and the New York Council Navy League, to hear firsthand stories from the Coast Guard and maritime industry personnel who took part in the 9/11 Boatlift. As tragedy unfolded on September 11, 2001, ordinary Americans did what Americans do at their best — they answered the call to help their fellow citizens. With Lower Manhattan streets blocked and the subways closed, crowds built up along accessible points of the shoreline. Captains and crew of the ferries already in the area, assisted by NYPD, started loading passengers to bring them to safety. With that, the largest maritime evacuation in history began.
The Lehigh Valley No. 79 covered barge shuttled cargo around New York Harbor from 1914 until sometime around the mid-1970s. David Sharps rescued this wooden barge in 1985, digging it out the mud, floating it, and renovating into a museum, performance space, and the home where he and his wife raised their daughters. We take an inside look inside this remarkable vessel and the remarkable institution that is The Waterfront Museum.
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. >> Continue reading