May 2018, our ship turns 80, portside turns 13, and we celebrate 3 years of real estate continuity!

May 2018, our ship turns 80, portside turns 13, and we celebrate 3 years of real estate continuity!

Sunday, May 20, 2018 come visit and celebrate our ship's 80th birthday! Info

PortSide connects people of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds to the harbor, with a special focus on connecting NYC’s economically and socially distressed communities. We provide transformative maritime programs (we call them WaterStories) in education and culture and a pipeline to marine jobs.  Our first ten years from 2005 to 2015, we operated as a pop-up while seeking a home. During that time, against many odds, we created award-winning programs on the ship MARY A. WHALEN and other ships, and in parks, ports, storefronts, and shipyards. In 2015, we secured a long-term place for our ship. In 2018, we are working on a business plan to expand into an adjacent warehouse that will allow us to better fulfill our vision and to better serve our audience. Let us know what kinds of programs you'd like.

PortSide programs - a work in progress

Some background to explain your program options below: Since being founded in 2005, we have been looking for a location to create a multi-disciplinary maritime center with building space plus dock space (for our historic ship MARY A. WHALEN and visiting vessels.)   Our programs, for 13 years, have been interim and pop-up subsets of our vision.  In 2018, we have an opportunity to get space to become the full PortSide NewYork, right here; and we are working on a new business plan!  Working on the business plan means we will offer fewer programs for a while.  Please let us know what programs you want!  

2018 is also pivotal because we are working to complete our hurricane Sandy recovery project (so exciting to get FEMA approval after 5 years of paper chase!!).  Please donate and help us become more resilient. This project will take the ship to a shipyard for about a month, so our summer 2018 schedule will be confirmed later.  We have created a festival the "MARY Month of May" for May, 2018 to honor the 80th birthday of our ship MARY A. WHALEN and the launch of version 2.0 of Red Hook WaterStories. 

 our historic ship mary a. whalen on pier 11, atlantic basin, red hook, brooklyn - our current site:

our historic ship mary a. whalen on pier 11, atlantic basin, red hook, brooklyn - our current site:

Experiences for you

Visit us for a "waterfront access" experience that's different.  We are located in an authentic and dynamic maritime place. Experience our historic ship, along with the most varied collection of historic and working vessels on one NYC place.  A container port, cruise ship terminal, NYC Ferry dock and several ships under restoration or conversion are here.  We have a tugboat (our partner's commercial vessel) docked alongside when not out on jobs.  See our related e-museum Red Hook WaterStories.  

TankerTime open hours on the main deck appeal to children and adults.  Second Sundays TankerTime runs 5pm to midnight (May thru Sept) with a Mediterranean music jam.

Our award-winning programs include serious subjects (Mariners' Response to 9/11) and performing arts such as the Puccini opera aboard the MARY A. WHALEN which we positioned as a containerport appreciation event.  We offer maritime-themed "WaterStories" film screenings, talks, book readings and exhibits.  We have programs for school students and the general public.  We also create programs off our ship in parks, storefronts, industrial sites, and on other historic ships. Creating a pipeline to marine careers is part of our mission (see below).  In May 2018, we are launching an African American maritime heritage program.  

 film screening (c) carolina salguero 2010

film screening (c) carolina salguero 2010


Visit Red Hook WaterStories, our e-museum with 400+ years of coastal history plus an in-depth guide to contemporary Red Hook.  If you live in our coastal city of NYC, whether you are in a flood zone or not, please read the flood prep info in Resiliency 101.  You never know when you, your family or your friends will need to know how to cope with a major flood; and doing your homework once the flood is forecast is too late to prepare well.

Schedule a school trip!

Our education programs serve students from elementary schools to PhD candidates, from low-income New Yorkers to students from private schools overseas.

 (c) Myra Hernandez 2015

(c) Myra Hernandez 2015

Job training: youth development and adults

We provide CTE (vocational) internships that develop life skills and job skills.  The Williamsburg High School of Architecture & Design has been a partner for several years.  We have a training partnership with the union District Council 9 that uses our ship as a training site, primarily for Local 806, the Bridge Painters. We have worked with several of their other locals.

 summer cte preservation internshiip

summer cte preservation internshiip

Sandy recovery and resiliency programs

Starting in late 2012, in response to the destructive WaterStories of hurricane Sandy, PortSide stepped up to offer recovery and resiliency work for our neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn. We were honored for our recovery work by the Obama White House and the NYS Senate.  Our recovery work served hundreds, our resiliency work helps thousands. 

After five years, we have concluded that work and are now focused on own Sandy recovery project that was finally approved by FEMA in late 2017.  We need to raise $26,000 (10% of the cost) to complete the project by summer 2018, so please donate!

Ship cat

We have a great ship cat Chiclet who attracts visitors from Red Hook and far away and keeps the ship rodent-free.

 (c) carolina salguero 2016

(c) carolina salguero 2016

Get involved!

Get the satisfaction of helping make the world a better place.  Join us as a volunteer. The options include shipwork, space design, architectural renderings, volunteer coordinator and more. Join us as a member of the board, advisory board or fundraising committee.  Bring us your ideas, connections and energy.  It's fun around here!

Awards, honors, appointments

2013 White House award “Champions of Change” for our hurricane Sandy recovery work

2013 National Maritime Historical Society "New York Harbor Historic Ship Steward Award of Excellence" 

2013 NYS Senate honors for Sandy recovery work. Resolution, sponsored by Senator Velmanette Montgomery, co-sponsored by Senator Daniel Squadron

2013 Appointed by Governor Cuomo's office to Red Hook's NY Rising committee, a statewide program to make communities more resilient.

2014 Appointed by Councilman Carlos Menchaca to the Sunset Park Task Force to advise the NYC Economic Development Corporation about development plans for the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. 

2017 Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez presented PortSide with a Congressional Record citing the importance of the ship MARY A. WHALEN and PortSide programs.


Thanks to our sponsors!