Not Curbing My Enthusiasm



By Carolina Salguero

This blogpost is a response to Curbed’s 1/28/16 article about Red Hook which carried only parts of several long conversations with Nathan Kensinger.  Here is more of what I said so that my position, and PortSide NewYork’s, on changing Red Hook is better rendered.  

The Curbed article looks back; my waterfront work, from my photojournalism to founding the forward-looking non-profit PortSide, focuses on the growing maritime sector, making change and shaping the future. At PortSide, we use history to further Red Hook's development. All images, except the rendering above, are copyright Carolina Salguero.

How I would frame the future of Red Hook?

Red Hook has evolved from a place perceived by 1990’s national media as a hopeless crack den to a peninsula that in 2014 was the announced recipient of a "first in the nation" plan for urban flood protection..  Hello IFPS! That is our future, example to the nation.

Est4te Four

I understood Est4te Four to be the core of Nathan’s intended story. Thus, I said that, given that Red Hook was going to change, hugely change, it was better that we have Est4te Four, with a curated vision and their standards, than have the building boom of “luxury”’ housing such as occurred on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope/Gowanus. That left us with a hodgepodge of dreadful buildings like the yellow brick one looming over the historic Old Stone House.

We all fall in love with the Red Hook we first met

Yes, we talked nostalgia.  We talked a lot about Red Hook changes and my personal markers for the stages of evolution.  

This led me to remark that we all seem to fall in love with the Red Hook of our first contact, and the point of that remark was not to say that my first experience of 1997 (as a visitor, I moved here in 1999) was better or more valid than that of someone arriving in 2002 or the 1980s, but to convey how Red Hook triggers a deep love that is very nostalgia based.  

All newcomers to Red Hook love Red Hook, that’s why they come (you don’t come here for the great transportation), and their love starts in, and connects to, the era they arrive.

I said that was one of the great things about my being involved with Red Hook, it has an engaged community that cares about this place. 


My view of Red Hook is so NOT nostalgia-driven that I had a lot positive to say about IKEA.  IKEA’s Sandy recovery work (done with Swedish modesty that did not tout what they did) was so significant that PortSide honored them for it.

I said the IKEA waterfront esplanade was very well designed, one of the best in the city. I said all that despite saying that closing the graving dock was a policy mistake by the city and a personal loss to me; it was my photographic muse for 5 years.  I had unfettered, permitted access to it and could come by land or sea, day or night; and I had the run of the old shipyard too. 

NYCHA, The Red Hook Houses and the new Red Hook

The Curbed piece concludes with the quote “"It's not going to be the same Red Hook for a lot of the people who live here now."”’  whereas I talked quite a bit about the people who are likely to stay in Red Hook, the overwhelming majority of Red Hook’s residents, eg the residents of the NYCHA development in the Red Hook Houses East and Red Hook Houses West.  I said that for all the problems faced by those folks, they had a large measure of residential stability.  

I said that one of my hopes for Red Hook was that, with all the change, wealth and resources coming to the Red Hook around the Houses, more resources would be focused on helping those NYCHA residents. Some of that was visible in the great number of homegrown non-profits on this small peninsula. I said that entrenched, urban poverty was a tough challenge, but that we should try. It is certainly part of PortSide’s mission.

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Same old, same old with new people

I said that even with all the new people moving in, much stayed the same:  Red Hook the close knit community where gossip and rumor are big.  Gary Baum, the friend of the pick-up truck sledding mentioned by Nathan, used to joke that if you sneezed, in 10 minutes people know that 7 blocks away.

All of which led me to remark that what I wish Red Hook would get better at research and negotiation since so many of our land use issues were characterized by “did you hear that?!!” shock that was not necessarily based on fact; and that, as a community, we had yet to negotiate benefits from any major real estate development.  Segue to NY Rising, a change in that dynamic.

NY Rising and the future of Red Hook

Once Nathan and I got off the nostalgia beat, I spent a lot of time talking about NY Rising, my voice starting to crack with emotion when I talked about how beautiful it was for me to see that the disaster of Sandy had germinated something that augured such good for Red Hook.

NY Rising is a NYS program, and its Red Hook committee members (including me) were appointed by the State to craft a resiliency plan for $3MM in funds the state would provide.  

It was a helluva lot of work over some 9 months, but we had the benefits of the region’s best consultants, paid by the state, to support the effort. I said it was a new model worth remembering:  government paid to give grassroots community members planning resources (as opposed to Community Boards in gentrifying areas that are overwhelmed by trying to respond to Land Use permits and variances and that are not funded in proportion to that workload. Hint, hint, NYC.)  

Official NYS webpage for NY Rising statewide
Official NYS webpage for NY Rising Red Hook committee
Blog of Red Hook’s NY Rising committee  
Final resiliency plan of NY Rising Red Hook committee, shorter executive summary and mini brochure version.

Red Hook's NY Rising committee has gone well beyond the State-appointed mission.  We proposed programs exceeding that budget. The committee has already sought and secured outside funding to further some projects, including the microgrid. The committee has continued to meet and is becoming a non-profit to further work in Red Hook.  It is also looking to expand members.  GET INVOLVED!  It sought the support of the Municipal Art Society to host the Red Hook Summit about resiliency projects in Red Hook.

COME TO THE RED HOOK SUMMIT! It is Saturday, 1/30/16, 10am – 1pm at Summit Academy, 27 Huntington Street. Full disclosure, I am presenting for PortSide there.

I talked to Nathan about my role on NY Rising where I tried to raise NYCHA issues (I proposed the solar-powered emergency lights in the final plan) and my big focus was activation of the waterfront (the waterways, really) and ensuring that the wisdom of NYC’s 2011 waterfront plan Vision 2020 (embrace and activate the waterways!) was not drowned by Sandy (water is destructive, let’s build walls!). 

As a result, I was very moved when at the IFPS (Integrated Flood Protection Study) meeting last week, community members very strongly supported the idea of waterfront access and maritime activation that were on the sheet of NY Rising “values” had the room discuss.  

Listening to the IFPS room, with the report-back from each break-out table echoing PortSide values for the waterfront, I felt that I, and PortSide staff and interns, had really made a difference preparing  advocacy papers, blogposts, webpages, walk-to-ferry-landings studies, etc  for NY  Rising, all of which is shared on our website.  Our NY Rising work and waterfront vision was embraced by the room without our having spoken up for it in that room.  Given that the IFPS is a “first in the nation” program, the eyes of the world are on us in Red Hook, so it was powerful for me to see PortSide’s harbor advocacy work picked up by the IFPS process.

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Changes in Red Hook – growth of maritime sector

The thrust of Nathan’s Curbed piece is displacement, new replacing the old, but I also talked about what NYC’s real estate driven press (Ahoy, Curbed!) does not cover very much: the growth of the maritime sector.  So I rattled off some Red Hook increases in maritime activity since I moved here in 1999: New York Water Taxi (a new company, and headquartered in Red Hook), Vane Brothers tug and barge company expanding two times beyond the footprint of the old Ira S. Bushey yard at the foot of Court Street (where the MARY A. WHALEN started work in 1938) to GBX and Port Authority piers, a new cruise terminal, and Red Hook Container Terminal expanded business (despite hiccups of lawsuits, Sandy and more), and the founding of PortSide NewYork, to create a maritime hub that would foster the community revitalization of Red Hook along a water and maritime theme, combine working waterfront, public access and community development and be a test lab and advocate for expand that model harborwide. 

PortSide NewYork services to a future Red Hook

I told Nathan that in September, 2015, PortSide asked the EDC for the space inside the Pier 11 warehouse next to the ship that had been promised to us in 2009, 2010, and 2011 – space that the EDC had also promised to the community as the home for PortSide.

I concluded by sending Nathan two renderings of what PortSide plans for Pier 11, a forward-looking vision for Red Hook. Here is what we are working towards!  #GetOnBoard and join us!

PortSide NewYork 2015 year in review

 third graders from elementary school crispus attucks 21 in Bedford Styvesant, Brooklyn came to us to learn about hurricane sandy and community resiliency. Photo by myra hernandez, Behind the book

third graders from elementary school crispus attucks 21 in Bedford Styvesant, Brooklyn came to us to learn about hurricane sandy and community resiliency. Photo by myra hernandez, Behind the book

2015: the search is over. The future is now.

2015 was a year of major milestones and growth.  See, read and feel it below.  

The pivot point was the exhilarating move on May 29 in the video at right.  

Our new site strengthens our ability to fulfill the PortSide vision of combining the working waterfront, public access and community development.  

Please donate now and support our momentum!  




The public access at our new home enables us to grow our educational programs.  We hopped on it right away with outreach such as our Open House for Educators Week and researching new curricula.  We gained new partners in the World Monuments Fund, the Williamsburgh HS of Architecture and Design (WHSAD), and Behind the Book. We had three summer interns from WHSAD and two college interns from Spain.  We created a curriculum for simple machines aboard the MARY A. WHALEN and taught Hurricane Sandy & resiliency to elementary school kids. For adult job training, we furthered our relationship with the painters' union District Council 9

WaterStories cultural programs

We secured $20,000 in funding from Councilman Carlos Menchaca to support our Red Hook WaterStories cultural tourism, placemaking and resiliency project.  We were invited to join a historic ship flotilla that celebrated Cunard's 175th anniversary and got community members in the parade via our partner, the historic tug CORNELL. We curated and ran a great POW! weekend with TankerTours, TankerTime and gifted flamenco jazz musicians who have offered to make this an annual event.  We produced a distinctive multimedia history night with Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories with bluegrass musicians from Norway, history speakers, and vintage video. Out shipcat Chiclet has become an attraction, with a growing fan club of regulars who come by to see her.

Ship restoration:

Volunteers repainted three cabins!  Thank you, volunteers! Three summer interns from WHSAD did enormous work restoring the teak rail around the wheelhouse.  The painters' union District Council 9 will repaint the exterior as a training excercise with paint donated by International Paint. DC9 scoped out the job, did some prep work, and laid plans for painting in 2016.

History: research, acquisitions & programs

History runs through so many of our programs: all events on the ship, programs such as our Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories night, info content we share on our Facebook and Twitter, our blogposts such the one about the important sale of slave ERIE ship in Atlantic Basin which marked an important step in the end of slavery in the USA.  In 2015, we added considerably to Mary A. Whalen history:  more former crew members found us (thanks to our new home): Engineer Bill Siebert who works on a Vane tug and retired, 86-year old, former relief captain Thomas J. Smith.  Captain Smith donated his maritime papers to us, and we have taped hours of interviews with him. A big boost in the history department was the visit by Scott Gellatly and his wife Pat. They ran a waterborne fuel transportation company years ago and almost bought the MARY.  The Gellatlys donated photos, recorded hours of interview and brought along retired engineer Bryan Sinram, another trove of history, who had worked for Eklof, the company that ran the MARY WHALEN for years. Walter Barschow donated the folk painting of the MARY aground in the slide show above and gave us leads on Red Hook WaterStories about his family that ran a scrap yard for decades, founded by his German immigrant grandmother. Karen Dyrland and John Weaver donated another large cache of photos, letters and documents from Alf Dyrland, Captain of the MARY from 1958-1978.  And, our home, the historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN turned 77!

Inspiring artists

PortSide continued to inspire filmmakers, painters and multi-media artists.  Most find us because they can now see us.  The MARY A. WHALEN is visible from our new friends and partners Pioneer Works which leads to a steady stream of artists coming to brainstorm, photograph, get ideas, one even collects salt water for a printing project. We gave the title to the documentary film BLUESPACE and appeared in it.  We invited painter Jim Ebersole to memorialize our final week in the Red Hook Containerport.


This important work does not generate inspiring, cuddly or sexy photos.  It involves a slew of emails and hundreds of conversations that advance our vision for bringing change to NYC's waterfront.  Some highlights: Our President Carolina Salguero was appointed to the Sunset Park Task Force whose first task was to advise the EDC on creating an RFP for SBMT. How's that for alphabet soup!  The Task Force continues to meet to shape the Sunset Park waterfront and industrial waterfront district.  PortSide provided info and advice on the siting of a Citywide ferry stop in Red Hook.  We are engaged with the ongoing work of Red Hook's NY Rising committee.  We had a photogenic policy gig by being a stop on Alex Washburn's OHNY Resiliency bike tour.

Capacity Building - great progress undergirds all the above!

Getting our new home in Atlantic Basin, has provided PortSide NewYork with much needed stability and allowed us to turn energies to growing PortSide's capacity.  We grew the team with 2 board members and 4 advisory board members.  We completed the long slog of paperwork of a FEMA Sandy Alternate Project application, along with other important funding applications.  We were awarded $20,000 by Councilman Carlos Menchaca to support our Red Hook WaterStories project.  In Late October, PortSide launched a year-long growth campaign #GetOnBoard.  In December, we were awarded a competitive Regional Economic Development Council grant of $49,500 via the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. We scored new major sponsors in the Weather Channel and International Paint.  There is strong growth in the number of entities reaching out to get involved: we have heard from college community service programs, schools, teachers and individuals.  

Please donate now and support our momentum!  

1860, Slave ship ERIE sold in Atlantic Basin, a major step in movement to end slavery

On this day, December 5, 1860, the slave ship ERIE was sold at government auction in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn. One month prior, November 5, 1860,  the ship had been condemned and ordered to be sold by the United States District Court.  [Please note that this is a correction from our November 5 blogposting.  Discussion of this, and other changes are at the bottom of this post.]

This was news of national note.  

The African American Maritime Heritage program of PortSide NewYork will explore the African American experience on the water. This includes many stories of great accomplishment and much history that was forgotten and/or deliberately erased. Recovering these WaterStories presents a fuller picture of American history.

This particular blogpost is also part of PortSide NewYork’s Red Hook Waterstories that explores the history of the Red Hook, Brooklyn peninsula along a water theme. PortSide, and our home ship, the MARY A. WHALEN, are located in Atlantic Basin, the location where the slave ship ERIE was sold in 1860. 

Red Hook WaterStories is supported by funding from Councilman Carlos Menchaca

The ship was sold, after being captured and impounded by the US Government, for enslaving and importing Africans, a business banned by the federal government under the Piracy Law of 1820, which followed The Slave Trade Act of 1794, two steps in the USA’s long, slow process of devolving and banning the slave trade (the shipping of captured people) and slavery. Slavery was finally banned in 1865.  The case of the ERIE was chosen by a US Attorney, a judge, and by President Lincoln himself to signal a major change in policy on slavery and their commitment to end it.

The owner and captain of the Erie, Nathaniel Gordon of Maine, did not get off free as was usually the case. He was tried and found guilty of running a slave ship - and the Piracy Law of 1820 said the punishment was execution. Gordon’s supporters, including members of Congress and even friends of President Lincoln, sought a presidential pardon; but Abraham Lincoln refused due to his conviction that a point about slavery needed to be made with the ERIE and Captain Gordon.  

Captain Gordon was distressed, in jail, and attempted suicide. He was resuscitated and was hanged at the Tombs in Manhattan and became the first – and only – importer of slaves to be executed for the crime in the USA. Soon after Gordon’s execution, Abraham Lincoln presented his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Several months later, the Proclamation was finalized, followed by the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery.  

Timeline from the ERIE to the end of slavery

August 8, 1860, The ERIE was captured close to the coast of Africa.
November 5, 1860, the ERIE was ordered to be sold at auction in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn
December 5, 1860, the ERIE was sold at auction in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn, for a reported amount of $7550.
November 9, 1861, after one hung jury and a new trial, Gordon was convicted in the circuit court in New York City. He was sentenced to death by hanging on February 7, 1862. After his conviction, his supporters appealed to President Abraham Lincoln for a pardon which was denied though Gordon was granted some extra time to arrange his affairs.
February 21, 1862, Nathaniel Gordon was executed.
July 22, 1862, President Lincoln read the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet members.
September 22, 1862, after some changes, Lincoln issued the preliminary version which specified that the final document would take effect January 1, 1863
January 31, 1865, the 13th Amendment was passed by the Congress
December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment was ratified and slavery banned in the USA.

The following is designed as a glimpse into the complex subject of slave ships and slavery.  Below we offer some information and links to encourage you to explore the often misunderstood history of slavery in the USA, in New York State, in New York City and in Brooklyn ( a separate city from Manhattan at that time) and the role of the maritime industry in slavery.  We ourselves are in the process of conducting more research into the maritime end of the slavery story, and if you want to share some information or get involved, reach out to us via our webpage CONTACT.

In 1860, Nathaniel Gordon and the slaver ERIE in Atlantic Basin were at the center of a major national issue and representative of a major business sector for New York and the northeast.  Slavery in the USA is often thought of as a southern activity, a thing of the plantation system; however, slaves were also owned in New York State, and the economy of New York City and Brooklyn, their financial and insurance sectors, maritime activity and trading status were hugely dependent on the economic activity of businesses that owned slaves and/or that processed the products produced by slaves. For example, New York bankers lent to southern plantations, southern cotton produced by slaves was processed in New England textile mills with the raw and finished goods moved by ships from our area and passing through our ports and insured by businesses here.

Over time, and varying by state, there was a layering of state and federal rules limiting the importation of more captured people and changes in the obligation to return escaped slaves.  Then states began to prohibit their own populations from owning slaves (but slave owners from other states could visit a non-slave state like New York with their own slaves) and finally slavery was banned completely.

The short 2010 article in the New York Times that told PortSide about the ERIE in Atlantic Basin
Note that Atlantic Basin, Red Hook is called Atlantic Docks at the time and in this article.   

Two cropped citations from the New York Herald, January 13, 1861 from the paper's lengthy review of Court actions in the year of 1860.  They read as follows:

"November 5 - Judge Betts entered an order condemning the ship Erie as a s slaver and directing her to be sold by the Marshal."

"December 5 - Deputy United States Marshal Thompson, by virtue of a decree of condemnation, sold the slave ship Erie at the Atlantic dock, Brooklyn.  The vessel brought $7,550, and the cargo, consisting of oil, water casks and some beef and pork, sold for about $300"

Short Wikipedia bio of Nathaniel Gordon
Nathaniel Gordon (February 6, 1826 – February 21, 1862) was the only American slave trader to be tried, convicted, and executed "for being engaged in the Slave Trade," under the Piracy Law of 1820. Wikipedia 

How slave ships avoided the laws against importing Africans as slaves
The prohibited business continued because there were buyers - and a government reluctant to enforce its own prohibitions against the trade. The ships used various strategies to evade detection.

Articles from the 1860s about the ERIE and Nathaniel Gordon

10/10/1860 Chicago Tribune, capture of the slave ship ERIE

Court reporter summarizes the day in court 10/24/1860

Their correspondent reports on slave ship from sea 12/24/1860

A description of slavers arrested the year and a half before the ERIE suggests both an effort to stop the trade and how much capturing and importing of Africans still continued 11/17/1862 

"South-street," who keeps a bulletin of the movements of slavers, and reports them through the Evening Post, gives the following statements

11/5/1860 United States Circuit Court; Before Judge Nelson. THE SLAVER ERIE.  

A book about Nathaniel Gordon
From the review of the book “Hanging Captain Gordon” on Amazon: "Soodalter, a former museum curator and history teacher, uses this singular event as a prism to provide an overview of Civil War-era politics, Lincoln's presidency and the maritime economy of slavery."

The judge’s sentence of Nathaniel Gordon communicates strong condemnation of slavery
“In passing the sentence, Judge Shipman, in the course of his address to the prisoner, said:

"Let me implore you to seek the spiritual guidance of the ministers of religion; and let your repentance be as humble and thorough as your crime was great. Do not attempt to hide its enormity from yourself; think of the cruelty and wickedness of seizing nearly a thousand fellow beings, who never did you harm, and thrusting them beneath the decks of a small ship, beneath a burning tropical sun, to die in of disease or suffocation, or be transported to distant lands, and be consigned, they and their posterity, to a fate far more cruel than death.

Think of the sufferings of the unhappy beings whom you crowded on the Erie; of their helpless agony and terror as you took them from their native land; and especially of their miseries on the ---- ----- place of your capture to Monrovia! Remember that you showed mercy to none, carrying off as you did not only those of your own sex, but women and helpless children.

Do not flatter yourself that because they belonged to a different race from yourself, your guilt is therefore lessened – rather fear that it is increased. In the just and generous heart, the humble and the weak inspire compassion, and call for pity and forbearance. As you are soon to pass into the presence of that God of the black man as well as the white man, who is no respecter of persons, do not indulge for a moment the thought that he hears with indifference the cry of the humblest of his children. Do not imagine that because others shared in the guilt of this enterprise, yours, is thereby diminished; but remember the awful admonition of your Bible, “Though hand joined in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished."  — Worcester Aegis and Transcript; December 7, 1861; pg. 1, col. 6.  From Wikipedia 

Lincoln resolves to use the ERIE and Nathaniel Gordon to communicate condemnation of slaving and slavery:
Quoting from Historynet: “Lincoln from the beginning had no intention of sparing Nathaniel Gordon’s life. On February 4, just three days before Gordon was scheduled to die, the president wrote, “I think I would personally prefer to let this man live in confinement and let him meditate on his deeds, yet in the name of justice and the majesty of law, there ought to be one case, at least one specific instance, of a professional slave-trader, a Northern white man, given the exact penalty of death because of the incalculable number of deaths he and his kind inflicted upon black men amid the horror of the sea-voyage from Africa.” And three years later, shortly before his own death, he told Congressman Henry Bromwell: “There was that man who was sentenced for piracy and slave-trading on the high seas. That was a case where there must be an example and you don’t know how they followed and pressed to get him pardoned, or his sentence commuted, but there was no use of talking. It had to be done; I couldn’t help him.” 

More on President Abraham Lincoln’s refusal to pardon Nathaniel Gordon
“On November 1861, Nathaniel Gordon was convicted of slave trading and sentenced to hang. Participation in the slave trade had been punishable by death since 1820, but Gordon was the first man to be executed for the crime. Between 1837 and 1860, seventy-four cases relating to the slave trade had been tried in the United States, but very few men were convicted, and even then they received only light sentences. Only one other slave trader had been sentenced to death, but he received a full pardon from President James Buchanan in 1857.” More 

Slavery was officially ended by the 13th Amendment
Slavery was officially ended by the 13th Amendment in 1865, the culmination of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1862-1863), the products of a process that lurched through American courts, pulpits and the press for well over a century, and the ERIE and its owner became pivotal symbols in the story.  

New York’s significance in the case of the ERIE and the prosecution of Nathaniel Gordon
“Captured by a ship of the African Squadron, Gordon was taken to New York City for trial in federal court—ironic, since New York had long been the epicenter of the U.S. slave trade. It had financed, fitted out and sent forth more slaving expeditions than any other American port. Slavers had typically been given a token slap on the wrist thus far. The U.S. attorney had no particular interest in prosecuting slaving cases. President James Buchanan, who occupied the White House when Gordon was arrested, had declared that he would never hang a slaver. It seemed Gordon had nothing to worry about.  But after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, a strongly Democratic, Southern-leaning New York City found itself with a new Republican U.S. attorney, Edward Delafield Smith, who entered office determined to put an end to the slave trade. And Smith made Nathaniel Gordon his personal demon.”  From Historynet 

Importance of the site of Nathaniel Gordon’s execution
A blog about New York Corrections history shows how the location of the execution (the Tombs in Manhattan/New York City) suggests legal jurisdictional issues in the attempts to prohibit slavery. More


Some information on how Brooklyn’s economy related to slavery
In CUNY's digital collection, a discussion of the activities of leading families.  See table 3.1 for slave owning families among founders of Kings County Banks. More

Slavery in New York City
A short summary of slavery in New York City by Douglas Harper a historian, author, journalist and lecturer based in Lancaster, Pa.  
Book “Slavery in New York” 
New York City Slavery Walking Tour 

New York City ran a Municipal slave market
There was a 1711 Law "Appointing a Place for the More Convenient Hiring of Slaves" that created the slave market:  
"Be it Ordained by the Mayor Recorder Aldermen and Assistants of the City of New York Convened in Common Council and it is hereby Ordained by the Authority of the same That all Negro and Indian slaves that are lett out to hire within this City do take up their Standing in Order to be hired at the Markett house at the Wall Street Slip untill Such time as they are hired, whereby all Persons may Know where to hire slaves as their Occasions Shall require and also Masters discover when their Slaves are so hired and all the Inhabitants of this City are to take Notice hereof Accordingly." from Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, vol. II, 458, December 13, 1711

The slave market was located at Wall Street near the East River. It was second busiest slave market in the country in terms of the number of human beings it trafficked. June, 2015, it was finally memorialized with a plaque.  See and hear WNYC report about that plaque and the history of the site.

In a short slide-show presentation, Anne Guerra of Untapped Cities discusses aspects of this Municipal slave market and slavery in New York City and notes that the market had the additional intention of preventing slave rebellions (frequently selling slaves was seen as a way to keep the people from organizing).  The blog also states that the Civil War period actually saw upsurge in the slave ship business with New York City having a leading role. That upsurge and New York’s role in it may be why President Lincoln felt he needed to make an example of the ERIE and Nathaniel Gordon.  We welcome hearing from experts about our theory on that. Untapped Cities says: “Between the years 1857 and 1862, while the Civil War was being fought, America experienced a tremendous resurgence in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which had been illegal for five decades. And at the forefront of this highly illegal activity was New York City. The city’s legitimate trading tries with Africa made it easy to mask illicit slaving activity. In 1857, the New York Journal of Commerce reported that, ”downtown merchants of wealth and respectability are extensively engaged in buying and selling African Negroes, and have been, with comparatively little interruption, for an indefinite number of years.” More  

Black Brooklyn Artist delving into NYC’s slavery history

In 2015, Red Hook photographer and story teller Kamau Ware relaunched his Black Gotham project with plans to make a multi-media recreation of history with living actors, in the street, during walking tours and generate a related photo book for each story/issue.  Black Gotham will move beyond the slavery period to cover broader African diaspora content.  

Slavery in the North, role of the maritime industry and the Episcopal Church
The maritime might of the northeast, its shipbuilding, ports, and seafarers meant that the North was hugely involved in direct and indirect aspects of slavery. A new museum is being planned by the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island to capture the history of the North’s involvement in slavery, the role of the Episcopal Church, and foster racial reconciliation and healing. A shuttered cathedral will be repurposed to host the museum. Quoting from a 2015 New York Times article “Tiny Rhode Island played an outsize role in the trade, thanks to the state’s financiers, a seafaring work force and officials who turned a blind eye to antislavery laws. While many slave ships were built in Boston, they were supplied, manned and dispatched from Rhode Island ports. Between 1725 and 1807, more than 1,000 slaving voyages — about 58 percent of the total from the United States — left from Providence, Newport and Bristol. Those vessels brought more than 100,000 Africans to the Americas as part of the triangle trade. They traveled to West Africa carrying rum, which was traded for slaves. The human cargo was then transported to the Caribbean in the infamous Middle Passage of the triangle. There, the ships were emptied of slaves and loaded with sugar, which was brought back to Rhode Island distilleries to make more rum to take back to Africa and repeat the cycle.”

Book about the Northern role in slavery
“Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery”

Slavery on Long Island Estates
Joseph McGill, created the Slave Dwelling Project, for which he sleeps at sites previously inhabited by slaves to underline that slavery was part of the history of the location. He recently visited Long Island estates. Here is a quote from a 2015 New York Times article
“So far, Mr. McGill, whose ancestors were enslaved in Williamsburg County in South Carolina, has slept in more than 70 slave dwellings in 14 states, alone or in groups as large as 30, with the descendants of slaves sometimes lying alongside descendants of slave owners. This weekend, he is doing his first overnight stays in New York State, bedding down on three historic properties on eastern Long Island, in some of the region’s most beautiful (and expensive) resort areas.

If these are not places where slavery is the first — or 51st — thing to pop into visitors’ heads, it isn’t because it didn’t exist in them. In the mid-18th century, New York City’s slave market was second in size only to Charleston’s. Even after the Revolution, New York was the most significant slaveholding state north of the Mason-Dixon line. In 1790, nearly 40 percent of households in the area immediately around New York City owned slaves — a greater percentage than in any Southern state as a whole, according to one study.” From So far, Mr. McGill, whose ancestors were enslaved in Williamsburg County in South Carolina, has slept in more than 70 slave dwellings in 14 states, alone or in groups as large as 30, with the descendants of slaves sometimes lying alongside descendants of slave owners. This weekend, he is doing his first overnight stays in New York State, bedding down on three historic properties on eastern Long Island, in some of the region’s most beautiful (and expensive) resort areas.

If these are not places where slavery is the first — or 51st — thing to pop into visitors’ heads, it isn’t because it didn’t exist in them. In the mid-18th century, New York City’s slave market was second in size only to Charleston’s. Even after the Revolution, New York was the most significant slaveholding state north of the Mason-Dixon line. In 1790, nearly 40 percent of households in the area immediately around New York City owned slaves — a greater percentage than in any Southern state as a whole, according to one study. “ 


The only museum of slavery in the USA
The slavery museum at Whitney Plantation opened in December 2014. 

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
The Slave Voyages database contains, in their own words, information on “more than 35,000 slave voyages that forcibly embarked over 12 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. It offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.

Have history or comments on this you want to share? To write us, see our webpage CONTACT.

 This is Nathaniel Gordon New Hampshire Legislator (1820-1908) not Nathaniel Gordon owner and Captain of the ship ERIE, executed for the crime of slave running, a pivotal case in elimination of slaving and then slavery by Americans. 

This is Nathaniel Gordon New Hampshire Legislator (1820-1908) not Nathaniel Gordon owner and Captain of the ship ERIE, executed for the crime of slave running, a pivotal case in elimination of slaving and then slavery by Americans. 

ADDENDUM: When we first posted this we were under the belief that the slave ship Erie was sold on November 5th 1860. Additional research post posting revealed that the November date was when Judge Betts issued his order for the ship to be sold but that the actual date of the sale in Atlantic Basin was December 5, 1860,  The initial posting also featured a portrait of a man said to be the slaver Nathaniel Gordon.  We now believe this was wrong and, making the same mistake as many other websites, we erroneously used a picture of a different Nathaniel Gordon.  The portrait, by N. B. Onthank,  is of a New Hampshire state legislator and philanthropist, born in 1820 and died in 1908.  (Source: New Hampshire Devision of Historical Resources)  Again, we invite any history or comments you may have to share.


Red Hook Ferry Testimony



Why this blogpost

This blogpost is in response to the uproar over the two Red Hook ferry locations proposed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC).  See images at bottom.  The EDC proposed these locations in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and gave the public a deadline of October 8, 2015 for comments. 

The Red Hook community via the NYS NY Rising resiliency plan it created had, over a year before, articulated its recommendation for a ferry location in Atlantic Basin.  The EDC proposal did not include Atlantic Basin. 

After the angry and frustrated responses to the DEIS in a public hearing shortly before the comment deadline and the comments submitted to the EDC DEIS, the EDC reversed itself. “We agreed to take a second look at Atlantic Basin as a landing,” said vice-president Peter Flynt in a Brooklyn Paper article “We’ve heard the community loud and clear.” In short, as of this writing, the topic is still open.

PortSide NewYork has long supported ferry service for Red Hook. Over the years, we have provided advice to ferry owners, property owners, elected officials, Brooklyn Community Board 6 and others. During 2010, PortSide advocated for waterborne transit during the Vision 2020 process. During 2013-2014, PortSide President Carolina Salguero was on the NY Rising Red Hook committee which proposed an Atlantic Basin ferry location, and PortSide staff and interns contributed research to her work for NY Rising.

EDC links

Media links

How this blogpost will work

To help resolve where a new Red Hook stop on the citywide ferry system will be located, PortSide NewYork has created this blogpost.  Here, we will link all comments that were submitted to the EDC DEIS that we receive, or any subsequent statements people want to make about the Red Hook ferry, or you can post directly in the comment section at bottom.  All statements we receive will be posted without editorial comment in alphabetical order by name of person who wrote the testimony. 

We are doing this to improve transparency by showing testimony the EDC received, to foster discussion within the community by showing what the collective is thinking, and to help media reporting for all the same reasons. 

Comments submitted to the DEIS process & other statements

Bette Stoltz, in memoriam, a tribute

By Carolina Salguero

I write to thank and honor Bette Stoltz for decades of work bettering Brooklyn. Bette passed away the Thursday before Thanksgiving, leaving many of us stunned and bereft. Some tributes from others, including her daughter Erica Stoltz, are below mine.

Bette created festivals, business organizations, collaborations, job training programs, school programs, businesses, and she founded SBLDC, the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation.  Bette dealt with the macro via the micro. Her successful community development work demonstrated a granular knowledge of community players in their diverse and contentious glory.  She worked her magic on several shopping corridors which were once moribund:  Flatbush Avenue, Park Slope’s Seventh Avenue, Court Street in Carroll Gardens, and then her masterwork Smith Street which she dubbed “the little street that could.”   Like Bastille Day and petanque on Smith Street? Thank Bette.  

Video about Bette Stoltz by her daughter Erica Stoltz

It was so Bette to address a problem by creating an opportunity, so when school dismissal was causing a disruptive flood of youth on revitalizing Smith Street, she created after-school programs for the students.  Her next step was to recruit the chefs and business owners from the Smith Street restaurant row of her creation and get them involved in starting a culinary arts training program in a local school. Similarly, she created thrift shops to fill empty storefronts (Smith Street once had them aplenty) and simultaneously give retail training to women from NYCHA public housing developments.  She was often a champion of the unsung and disconnected.

She worked for Brooklyn before Brooklyn was hip, and helped make Brooklyn hip in how she midwifed Smith Street into the mecca and brand it is today -- while also being an early advocate for manufacturing and industrial businesses. She helped create  training programs for bus drivers such as Red Hook on the Road. She also helped start FROGG, Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, which became a strong voice for getting the EPA to declare that canal a Superfund site.  Civic and development work like Bette’s is often not easy but; “she employed her will of steel to bend the bureaucratic machine,” as her daughter Erica Stoltz says in the documentary she produced about Bette.   I recommend the video as a great tribute to Bette and her style of community development.  It is also a quick refresher course in how much parts of brownstone Brooklyn changed over 30 some years.

If you haven’t heard of Bette, maybe that’s because she did her work without a #LookAtMe buzz machine, even after that became so Brooklyn.  She deftly deployed a know-your-neighbor, fact and relationship based ethos that fostered empathetic, site-specific, organic, evolution of place – and community.

I hope someone creates a Bette Stoltz award to honor and further the understanding of her work and to ensure that she continues to serve as an inspiration.  We would be better for it.

A message from Erica Stoltz, daughter of Bette Stoltz

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for your condolences and comforting words during this difficult time. Your love has been received and has helped us as we try and pick up the pieces and heal our broken hearts.  

Bette suffered a heart attack on Monday following ambulatory surgery and never recovered.  Being the person that she was, death could not even stop Bette from her work.  The first thing she did upon leaving us was give the gift of sight to another as an organ donor.

We have received an outpouring of calls and emails asking about plans and services to memorialize this amazing woman, mother, grandmother and community leader. In this regard, Bette chose to be cremated at a private ceremony with her immediate family. However, keeping with the Bette tradition, she also wants a memorial ceremony to be held in and around her beloved Smith Street where people who know Bette will have an opportunity to speak, and, which will be followed by drinking and a procession down Smith Street that she wants to be more like a parade than a funeral so that we may celebrate her life. We are in the process of finalizing dates and locations and will send that information along shortly.  If you chose to memorialize her as well let us know and we will spread the word, join you in raising our glasses and keep her alive in our hearts forever. 

In lieu of cards and flowers donations can be made to The Culinary Arts Program at the School for International Studies through SBLDC so that her work may continue. South Brooklyn LDC is a 501c3 Tax Exempt Corporation. Your donations are fully Tax Deductible. 100% of every donation made to support the Culinary Arts Program will go to buying food and equipment for this program. In addition we would like to support the cost of bus trips to nearby colleges that have culinary programs. Send your contribution payable to South Brooklyn LDC – 268 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 and just indicate that it is for the Culinary Program.

Thank you.

Michael, Erica, Patrick, Van and Shirley.

Tributes to Bette Stoltz

Craig Hammerman, CB6 District Manager in December 2015 CB6 monthly Newsletter

Katia Kelly of the blog " Pardon me for Asking" On The Passing Of Bette Stoltz, Who Helped Revitalize Smith Street, "The Little Street That Could"

Councilman Brad LanderRemembering Bette Stoltz a Champion of South Brooklyn

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez "On the passing of Bette Stoltz"

“I’m profoundly saddened by the passing of Bette Stoltz.  Our community has lost a dedicated activist, advocate and leader who will be deeply missed.

“Bette made so many contributions to South Brooklyn that one would be hard pressed to account for them all. She was instrumental to revitalizing Smith Street and helping it become a home to thriving businesses that add so much cultural life and vibrancy to our area. She organized the Smith Street Festivals in the fall and the Bastille Day Pétanque Tornament.  She never stopped working to ensure Smith Street remained a thriving community anchor.

“Her efforts went well beyond Smith Street. By starting the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation and the Red Hook Chamber of Commerce, she worked tirelessly to expand opportunity and commerce throughout Brooklyn.  She helped organize Friends of Greater Gowanus and served on the EPA Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, working on multiple fronts to push to remediate and restore the Gowanus Canal in a green, sustainable manner. She helped to institute a Culinary Arts Curriculum at the High School for International Studies on Baltic Street. For years, Bette served as a member of Community Board 6.  

“The fact is, in so many ways, South Brooklyn would not be as vibrant, diverse and culturally rich without Bette’s many contributions. She leaves behind a proud legacy, one that we will honor by continuing to improve our community.  My thoughts and prayers are with her husband, Michael, her children and her beloved grandchildren.”


Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories, a night of Bluegrass music - and history

PortSide NewYork presents
Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories
A night of bluegrass music and history

Thursday, 9/24/15, 7:00-10:30pm, $15, at Atelier Roquette, 63 Commerce Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Cash bar with beer, wine and imported sodas. BYO food or order in from great local venues. Menus will be on hand.

Buy tickets on Eventbrite here

Come nestle in a sofa or dance into the night with great bluegrass music during the NYC premiere of the band Paradise Mountain Boys from Norway - and get yourself a NY WaterStory!

Produced by PortSide NewYork as part of our ongoing Red Hook WaterStories.  You will be surrounded by projections of vintage film and photos on the brick walls as you soak up the maritime history of Norwegians in Red Hook. Norwegians were one of the major immigrant groups in Brooklyn from the late 19th to early 20th century. They were a major presence on NYC's working waterfront and on historic ship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN.  They were first concentrated in Red Hook, Brooklyn.


This is the NYC premier of the Paradise Mountain Boys! The band plays the traditional way with all the band members around one microphone. Their six-piece acoustic outfit of mandolin, dobro, banjo, guitar and upright bass has its roots firmly planted in down-home acoustic music found in the Appalachian mountains. Traditional bluegrass and bluegrass gospel, with beautiful harmony singing is their thing.  

Event Schedule

The evening kicks off with speakers covering various aspects of the Norwegian New Yorker experience, then the NYC premier of the Paradise Mountain Boys, a bluegrass band from Norway! Contribute your own WaterStory at our StoryStation. Peruse paper and digital Norwegian New Yorker history at our ReadingTable.  

7:00-7:45pm 3 short history talks with slides
8:00-9:45pm  bluegrass music by Paradise Mountain Boys from Norway
9:45-10:30pm time to talk to the historians and band, read history at our ReadingTable, get interviewed at our WaterStories StoryStation, sign up to be interviewed in the future.

History program

  • Historical overview by Lars Nilsen, Co-Chair of the Norwegian Immigrant Association
  • Victor Samuelsen will talk about the first people to row across the Atlantic, two Norwegians George Harbo & Frank Samuelsen who did that in an open boat - in 1896!
  • PortSide NewYork board member John Weaver will talk about his father in law Alf Dyrland who left Norway as a cabin boy at age 13 and was captain of our ship MARY A. WHALEN from 1958 to 1978, one of many Norwegians to work on the MARY and for the two companies for which the MARY worked most of her years, Ira S. Bushey & Sons in Red Hook and Ekloff in Staten Island.
  • The 1931 silent film “Glimpses of Old New York” playing on the walls is by Engineer Michael Leirvik, shot to show Norwegians how their emigrants brethren lived in NYC and especially Brooklyn, courtesy of Norsk Film Institut, Oslo, with the permission of the Leirvik Family.
 First Norwegian seaman's church in Red Hook, now Chico Macmurtie's studio

First Norwegian seaman's church in Red Hook, now Chico Macmurtie's studio

Event Partners

Norwegian Immigrant Association and Norwegian Seaman’s Church and Norsk Film Institut, Oslo 


Profuse thanks to the Paradise Mountain Boys for donating this concert.  This is another “Artists for PortSide” event where artists donate their work to PortSide NewYork.

Thanks for funding support from Councilman Carlos Menchaca  and for tech support from Hughes Media Group and Pioneer Works and venue Atelier Roquette.

The Venue  

The venue Atelier Roquette was generously donated by the dynamic duo Monica Byrne and Leisah Swenson, the force behind three businesses, Atelier Roquette, home/made and Roquette Catering whose flair has converted a former forge, ice cream warehouse and espresso machine repair shop into Atelier Roquette, a cozy, airy nest for brunch, weddings and community events. The esthetic here is an exquisite balancing of flowers and rust, linen and stainless with notes of rustic wood with an eclectic mix of chairs, tables and lounge spaces. Check out the interior courtyard with blooming oranges and roses!   

Proceeds and donations from the evening support future Red Hook WaterStories programs.

Red Hook WaterStories

This event is part of PortSide NewYork’s ongoing Red Hook WaterStories project which tells the history of the Red Hook peninsula along a water theme, including early Dutch tidal mills, shipyards and ports, nature, real estate development, squatters, illness, crime, harbor connections to unexpected things, and contemporary maritime activities ashore and visible from our shore.  It tells of Red Hook’s greatness: when the port of Brooklyn was a place of international importance, and the best in the region from the mid-1800’s until the mid 1900’s, its heart was in Red Hook.  From this content, PortSide makes school programs, public programs, digital and paper Red Hook maps and guides, and the research also informs our advocacy and neighborhood promotion work.

Help us keep up the momentum!

To support PortSide NewYork programs and to get involved with our efforts, please donate, volunteer, attend our October 27 fundaiser at Hometown BarBQue, and/or see  for how to contact us.

Experience POW! PortSide Open Weekend, Fri 8/7 - Sun 8/9

POW! PortSide Open Weekend! 
Weekend of free programs on historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN 
In historic Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Need some POW! for a summer weekend?  You can get that the second weekend in August during POW! PortSide Open Weekend, when the waterfront non-profit PortSide NewYork opens their historic ship in Atlantic Basin for the first time in five years, offering free events from Friday night through Sunday night.  All events are on the 77-year old tanker MARY A. WHALEN in historic Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Map of location HERE.

Friday, 8/7/15 8pm-10:00pm, POW! kicks off with an “Artists for PortSide” event. Regula Küffer, flute, and Nick Perrin, guitar, were inspired to donate their “Nuevo Amenecer“ (“New Dawn“) concert after seeing the documentary “Stadt am Wasser“, featuring PortSide NewYork and the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, on European TV. The two Swiss musicians combine flamenco, chamber music, and jazz as they perform rumba, sevillana, tango, fandango and more.  They promise a turtle, funny birds and surprises to boot. All music is written by Nick Perrin.   “Nuevo Amenecer“ is the name of their new CD and what it means for PortSide NewYork to have this new long-term home in Atlantic Basin. In late May, PortSide started a three-year permit at this site, so stay tuned for future POW! events and more!

Saturday, 8/8 and Sunday 8/9, 12:00-5:00pm, TankerTours of the MARY A. WHALEN are free to the public.  The ship is the last of her kind in the USA and on the National Register of Historic Places.  Learn PortSide WaterStories about the crew, how a Supreme Court decision about the ship revolutionized American maritime law. The huge galley is likely bigger than your apartment kitchen, the cast iron engine is a wonder, the bell boat communication system a surprise.  Play string with ship cat Chiclet, deemed one of NYC’s top mascots by Time Out NY.  

The Pioneer Works Center for Art + Innovation is partnering with PortSide NewYork during POW!  Sign up for TankerTours at Pioneer Works, located at the corner of Pioneer and Conover Street, just one hundred yards from the ship. See the exhibits at Pioneer Works during your visit, which include 'Second Sundays' open studios and performances.  TankerTours are run open-house style; you move through the ship at your own pace through spaces with docents.  Great for kids. Flat soled shoes highly recommended.  An array of maritime props will be available for you to take SaltySelfies. 

 Site of all POW! programs. Photo by Jonathan Atkin/

Site of all POW! programs. Photo by Jonathan Atkin/

Saturday, 8/8, 6:00-10:00pm, kick back and relax, make like the tanker is your own during TankerTime aboard MARY A. WHALEN.  The deck is set with tables, chairs and hammocks for you to lounge, bring take-out or your favorite bottle. You can sketch, photograph- or sing along!  Folk Music Society of New York will have a sing along during this TankerTime. 

 Regula Küffer, and Nick Perrin will perform "Nuevo amanecer"

Regula Küffer, and Nick Perrin will perform "Nuevo amanecer"

Sunday, 8/9, 6:00-10:00pm, enjoy sunset and sea breezes and a neighborhood vibe. The deck will be set with 6’ tables for communal dining. It’s bring your own, and the community is encouraged to bring pot luck dinners and share. 

POW! PortSide Open Weekend schedule in brief

    Fri 8/7, 8:00pm-10:00pm, “Artists for PortSide” flamenco jazz concert 
    Sat 8/8, 12:00-5:00pm, TankerTours of MARY A. WHALEN
    Sat 8/8, 6:00-10:00pm, TankerTime w/Folk Music Society of New York sing along
    Sun 8/9, 12:00-5:00pm, TankerTours of MARY A. WHALEN
    Sun 8/9, 6:00-10:00pm, with Community Picnic & Potluck on deck


Location is 40°40'50.0"N 74°00'45.0"W 

Map of location is here

For how to get here by car, bikes, subway, bus and ferries, download our directions document

Walking directions from Smith & 9th Street F/G stop from hopstop

About PortSide NewYork 

PortSide NewYork brings WaterStories to life. PortSide is a living lab for better urban waterways.  We bring the community afloat and the community ashore closer together to the benefit of both through education, arts, preservation, advocacy and workforce programs, on and off our flagship, the historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN.

PortSide was founded in 2005 and operated for ten years as a pop-up while looking for a home.  May 29 this year, PortSide NewYork moved to its first long term home, starting a three year contract in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook.  Our first POW! concert is thus fittingly named “Nuevo Amenecer“ (“New Dawn“).

PortSide WaterStories can save lives and protect property; we refer to our resiliency work.  Since Superstorm Sandy, PortSide has been active in recovery and resiliency.  Our Sandy recovery work won us a White House “Champions of Change” award and honors from the New York State Senate.  Our President Carolina Salguero was on the Red Hook committee of the NY Rising Program and contributed many elements to Red Hook’s resiliency plan. 

Further info:

PortSide NewYork contact: 

Press photos can be downloaded from  


July 14, 2015, our MARY greets their MARY! PortSide NewYork joins Cunard 175th anniversary celebrations!

PortSide NewYork is honored and excited to be part of Cunard's celebrations commemorating their 175th anniversary! 

 Illustration by christina sun, creator of harbor blog "bowsprite"

Illustration by christina sun, creator of harbor blog "bowsprite"

Our flagship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN will be part of a parade of historic ships greeting the arrival of Cunard's QUEEN MARY 2 (the QM2) Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at dawn. After passing by the Statue of Liberty, the QM2 will then dock at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.  More info in Cunard's press release below.

At 9:30pm that night, Cunard is staging a special light show with images beamed onto the ship while she is in front of the Statue of Liberty. This should be visible from Red Hook, Governors Island and lower Manhattan.

It is fitting that our MARY should salute their MARY, since our MARY fueled many cruise ships in her day; and we share the same home, historic Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  

Another connection between us is that our advisory board member, the noted maritime photographer Jonathan Atkin, aka shipshooter, will be up in a helicopter photographing the QM2 and us in the parade!  One of his prior photos of the QM2 is at the bottom of this blogpost.

How to get involved with PortSide NewYork

We can use volunteers with all sorts of skills from shipwork trades to event planning, educators, web and graphic designers, grantwriters and more. Info here.

 Tanker MARY A. WHALEN fueling a cruise ship back in the day. Photo by Bill Henry

Tanker MARY A. WHALEN fueling a cruise ship back in the day. Photo by Bill Henry

Official Cunard Press Release

From: Cunard Public Relations 
Date: Mon, Jul 6, 2015 at 12:05 PM
Subject: NEWS: Cunard Culminates its 175th Anniversary in its North American Home Port of New York


Cunard Culminates its 175th Anniversary Celebration in its
North American Home Port of New York 

6 July 2015 On 14 July 2015, New York City will witness the conclusion of Cunard’s 175th anniversary commemorative Transatlantic Crossing as Queen Mary 2 sails into its U.S. home port for a spectacular finale. The arrival of the great Cunard ocean liner will be marked by a flotilla of historic ships and Coastguard vessels, including the Mary A Whalen, an oil tanker; the Eric R Thornton, tug boat; John J Harvey Fireboat; Nantucket Lightship, and the Pegasus Tug after she passes under the Verrazano Bridge at approximately 5:30 am and berths alongside the Red Hook Terminal at 7:15 am. This culmination will be the end of a journey that pays tribute to the original voyage made by Cunard’s first flagship, Britannia, as the company inaugurated the first scheduled mail and passenger service across the Atlantic on 4 July 1840.

Cunard has been sailing in and out of New York City ever since the Hibernia first called in 1847, and the company is very proud to call Red Hook Brooklyn its home since 2006.  Sites of the company’s earlier history and its relationship to the city can be seen through the Cunard White Star sign at Pier 54 and the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway, which was completed in 1921 and is considered a New York City landmark today.  

"Cunard’s relationship with the city of New York holds a distinctly unique place in our 175-year history,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “From the great period of emigration in the mid-19th and early 20th century, when Cunard carried approximately one in five emigrants from the old World to North America, many to Ellis Island, to the transportation of hundreds of thousands of military troops across the Atlantic during World War II, New York has been our U.S. homeport for decades, and has played a significant role in the transformative world events during our history. We are very pleased today to extend our heartfelt thanks for our enduring relationship with this great city.”

New York Stock Exchange
In the afternoon, Cunard’s 175th anniversary will be marked by the ringing of the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange by the master of Queen Mary 2, Captain Kevin Oprey, as a testament to the economic and industrial achievements of the company, as well as to the future of the brand.

“Cunard is pleased to contribute to the growing success, visibility and economic impact of the city and to be a part of New York's growing cruise business, which attracts international visitors from across the globe,” Meadows added.

Queen Mary 2 Light Show Spectacular
Later in the evening, a spectacular light and music show, designed by the acclaimed Quantum Theatricals, will mark the finale as Queen Mary 2 embarks on her return journey back across the Atlantic. The show, which will be cast over the ship, illuminating New York harbor and the sky above, will bring viewers on a fantastic journey through Cunard’s 175 years of history, as well as celebrate the future that lies ahead. This production will begin at approximately 9:30 pm as Queen Mary 2 holds position in front of the Statue of Liberty, and will be available for public viewing from Battery Park.

Further information regarding these special events will be forthcoming soon.

For more information about Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth and to book a voyage, contact your Travel Consultant, call Cunard toll free at 1-800-728-6273, or visit

# # #

About Queen Mary 2
Christened by Her Majesty The Queen in 2004, Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 defines luxury travel for the 21st Century and continues an almost 175-year legacy of transatlantic travel. Queen Mary 2 achieved her 200th Transatlantic Crossing in July 2013. Famous names who have experienced this iconic voyage since 2004 include President George H.W. Bush, Desmond Tutu, James Taylor, Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton, George Takei, Kim Novak, Uma Thurman, Richard Dreyfuss, John Cleese and Angela Bassett.

About Cunard
Cunard, operator of the luxury ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, has long been synonymous with the quest for new discoveries and the epitome of British refinement since the company's first paddle-wheeled steamer, Britannia, crossed the Atlantic in 1840. Cunard voyages bring together like-minded travellers who seek a civilised adventure and relish the Cunard hallmarks of impeccable White Star Service, gourmet dining and world-class entertainment. Today, Cunard offers the only regularly scheduled Transatlantic liner service and continues the legacy of world cruising which it began in 1922.

World’s Leading Cruise Lines
Cunard is a proud member of World's Leading Cruise Lines. Our exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and Seabourn. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, World’s Leading Cruise Lines inspires people to discover their best vacation experience. Together, we offer a variety of exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations. Visit us at

Cunard is also here:


 Photo by Jonathan Atkin of . Atkin is on Portside newyork's advisory board.

Photo by Jonathan Atkin of Atkin is on Portside newyork's advisory board.

A new berth of freedom for PortSide NewYork & tanker MARY A. WHALEN

Our ship has sailed!

Friday, May 29, 2015, PortSide NewYork and the tanker Mary A. Whalen left Pier 9B inside the Red Hook Containerport and moved to Pier 11 Atlantic Basin and started a new future, ending ten years of PortSide's operating as a pop-up while searching for a home.  (You can read the official news in our press release here.)

The event attracted people and boats. And several drones.

Early in a gorgeous morning, the noted maritime photographer Jonathan Atkin showed up with the Atkin Drone Team which included Ben Wolf as Director of Photography, and Bryson Jenkins working as Videographer/Editor.  After getting all the official permissions in order, the Three Dronesters donated time and resources to shoot and edit this  inspiring video of our move. 

The NY Media Boat was there taking photos, and John Bowie of Vane Brothers, the company which donated the towing services, thought that moving the MARY was so historic that he came out in Vane’s launch to witness and photograph it. Thank you John Bowie and Vane Brothers for the tow and the photos!

The cheerful band aboard the MARY included some board members, some donors, and several of our volunteers. Our finance guy Dan Goncharoff volunteered to be line handler; he stayed ashore to cast off lines at Pier 9B and catch them at Pier 11. The only unhappy party was the ship cat Chiclet who gets locked in the head (bathroom) when the MARY is under tow.

 Councilman carlos menchaca and portside president carolina salguero soon after docking.

Councilman carlos menchaca and portside president carolina salguero soon after docking.

Vane’s tug QUANTICO CREEK had tug and tanker “nose to tail” (bows and sterns of the two boats facing different directions) so that the tug could position us in our new spot without changing how the tow was made up (how the tanker was tied to the tug).

We swung out into the Buttermilk Channel where the view of Manhattan, as familiar as it is, caused excitement and lots of smartphone photos; and then we passed under the gantry cranes of the Red Hook Container Terminal which cast big shadows across us and our path.

Another vessel was still in our intended spot due to engine problems until a tug moved them, and the two tows passed inside Atlantic Basin.

Soon after docking, Councilman Carlos Menchaca popped by on his bike.

Carlos did much to secure PortSide this new home by including us in his LOI with the EDC about SBMT. How’s that for the alphabet soup of waterfront planning! 

PortSide ended the day with a party for joyful core supporters including our volunteers, our board, prior sponsors and some elected officials.  

It was great to have aboard again Councilman Carlos Menchaca, NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and US Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.  NYS Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who has been aboard before, was represented by Karyn Broughton.

A la PortSide we often repurpose maritime stuff, and for this party we inaugurated the use of candock segments scattered around the deck as sectional seating.  

Special thanks to energetic volunteer Jonathan Miller, who thought he was going to grill for a handful and ended up cooking BBQ for hours and feeding many of Red Hook’s political representatives. The food was delicious!

Of particular joy to the PortSide crew was that the MARY was immediately visible and people began to walk up and ask what was going on, what was this ship.  

Every person answered us by saying “this is so exciting.”

Save the dates! 

PortSide NewYork is planning a fundraiser and inaugural programs for our Atlantic Basin home for the second week of August. 

Want to get involved? You can donate, volunteer, join the fundraising committee, or suggest an idea by sending us an email.

Location and directions

The tanker MARY A. WHALEN is now docked here at the south end of Pier 11 in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, next to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.  

Atlantic Basin is where the Red Hook Crit takes place, and we are right on the Brooklyn Greenway.

We are kitty corner from Pioneer Works, step out their door, and look to the left.

Pedestrians and bikes can enter at the corner of Pioneer and Conover Street, and vehicles enter the cruise terminal gate at Bowne & Imlay.

Nearest bus stop is the B61 stop for Pioneer Street. Exit the bus, take a right on Pioneer, walk to end of Pioneer at Conover and enter the gate.

The nearest subway is the Smith & 9th St F/G stop. Here are walking directions from that stop thanks to hopstop.


PortSide NewYork Open House for Educators Week

 Photo by Chris Zoupaniotis

Photo by Chris Zoupaniotis

Special education event during the second week of June!

PortSide NewYork is now in a position to expand educational programs! Literally! On May  29, 2015, we moved our historic ship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, to a publicly-accessible location for our first long term permit (3 years) after 10 years of looking for such a home.  Our first program commitment is to reach out to educators to discuss educational programs we can create together.

PortSide NewYork invites educators (K-12 and college) to visit our historic ship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, to discuss program ideas. This will enable PortSide to provide some of these programs to you and others by the next academic year.    

Looking for a new field trip? An educational enrichment activity? A hands-on experience in marine biology?  New ways to make STEM topics exciting or to bring historical topics to life?  Want to learn about NYC's working waterfront or superstorm Sandy, marine weather and preparing for floods? Let's talk!  We want to brainstorm with you.  Some wonderful ideas have been brought to us by teachers and professors in the past, and we have also created content on our own. 

All PortSide programs relate to water, waterfront or maritime themes in some way. They do not have to focus on the ship itself.  Examples of some of the educational programs we have created in the past on our webpage Youth +Education.

Open House for Educators Week Schedule:  

Sunday, June 7, 1-6pm 
Wed, June 10, 1-6pm 
Thurs, June 11, 1-6pm.
Educators are encouraged to make an appointment. Call 917-414-0565 or email

Flat soled shoes recommended while on the ship.

Location & Directions:

The tanker MARY A. WHALEN is docked at Pier 11, Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, next to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Brooklyn, NY 11231.  Vehicle access at Bowne Street and Imlay Street gate. Bikes and pedestrians can also enter at Pioneer and Conover Street gate.  Plenty of free parking on site. (NB: on Sunday, June 7, the Tour de Brooklyn will block many local streets in the morning, but they should be cleared by 1pm.)

Public transportation: take B6 bus to Red Hook and get off the Pioneer Street stop on Van Brunt Street. There is no subway stop in Red Hook. Closest subway is F/G stop at Smith & 9th Street.  Here are walking directions from the subway to the Pioneer and Conover street gate from hopstop. 

PortSide NewYork gets a new home!

Historic Tanker to Move to Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin

Space for Regular Programming by Fall 2015

Programming Kicks Off With Educators Open House in June

On the occasion of the 77th birthday on May 21, 2015 of our historic ship MARY A. WHALEN and PortSide NewYork’s 10th anniversary this May, we are pleased to announce that we have found a long-term home beginning Friday, May 29, 2015:  DockNYC has entered into an agreement with PortSide NewYork to bring the MARY A. WHALEN to berth in Atlantic Basin. DockNYC is an initiative created by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in partnership with BillyBey Marina Services, LLC, and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, which is designed to provide berthing space to vessels providing transportation, recreation, educational, commercial, non-profit, historic and cultural opportunities on the city’s waterfront.

The morning of Friday, May 29, 2015, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN will be towed to the south end of Pier 11 in Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  PortSide would like to thank our friends at Vane Brothers for donating this tow. Vane is operating from the same location where the MARY A. WHALEN began her working life at the former site of Ira S. Bushey & Sons and is in the same business moving fuel.

PortSide NewYork’s new location in Atlantic Basin keeps us in Red Hook where we were founded, and puts the ship readily accessible to the public one block from the B61 bus stop for Pioneer Street and right next to the Brooklyn Greenway, an easy stop for cyclists. This puts PortSide at a site - Atlantic Basin - that has a fascinating history we look forward to telling, and on a pier with a lot of maritime atmosphere.  Pier 11, Atlantic Basin has a varied and changing collection of vessels, views of activity in the Red Hook containerport and the cruise ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal plus views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.

Wheelhouse of the Mary Whalen

PortSide NewYork delivers water, waterfront and maritime-themed programs, services and advocacy, working both on and off the tanker MARY A. WHALEN. The MARY is the the last of her kind in the USA and is the only oil tanker cultural center in the world.  She is on the National Register of Historic Places.  She is famous in maritime law for a 1975 Supreme Court decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer. She is a symbol of NYC resiliency because the PortSide crew rode out the storm on the ship with the office aboard, and then brought that office ashore and set up and ran a hurricane Sandy pop-up aid station, winning a White House award and honors from the New York State Senate for their Sandy recovery work.

PortSide NewYork Atlantic Basin programming will kick off with three events this summer:

  • PortSide NewYork Open House for Educators Week.  Educators (K-12 and college) can visit the ship to discuss programs to create together. This will enable PortSide to launch some of these programs by the next academic year.  Schedule:  Sunday, June 7, 1-6pm; Wed, June 10, 1-6pm; Thurs, June 11, 1-6pm. Educators are encouraged to make an appointment.
  • Public program weekend: a weekend (date TBD) of public programming with Saturday daytime TankerTours, and an evening concert produced by the Jalopy Theatre; Sunday daytime TankerTime with maritime board games and evening Community Pot Luck Picnic aboard.
  • Summer Fundraiser 

PortSide is also still working on our own Sandy recovery (we protected the ship; but all else was damaged), and we are excited to be rebuilding and rebounding in this new location.

We thank all of our partners – Councilmember Menchaca, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority for getting to this place. 

DC 9 trainees painting Mary Whalen's Galley

With new programming, PortSide is expanding on its existing youth and adult education opportunities:

  •  Three students who attend Williamsburg HS for Architecture and Design (WHSAD) will have paid internships during summer 2015 at PortSide. They will restore the exterior woodwork on the wheelhouse and bridge deck. They are from Red Hook, Carroll Gardens and Maspeth.
  •  We have a relationship with District Council 9, IUPAT Painters and Allied Trades (DC9) which is using the tanker MARY A. WHALEN as a training site.  DC9 painted our ship’s galley.  Their Bridge Construction Division will paint the exterior of the ship once we have the paint. PortSide is seeking donations from paint suppliers.  DC9’s Metal Polishing Division will polish the ship’s bronze and Monel metals after removing paint.


The real estate news is fostering the growth of PortSide NewYork.  We have just added two board members and four advisory board members (see here) and are growing a new fundraising committee.

Get on board, join the team, support our growth, and help bring NYC’s BLUEspace to life!  Our volunteer program will be re-activated at Atlantic Basin, and we seek people to do shipwork, historic research, web design, grant writing, office support and more.


“PortSide NewYork is a living lab bringing change to New York City’s waterfront BLUEspace, and so it is very gratifying that we now have a long-term spot on that waterfront,” said PortSide NewYork Founder and President Carolina Salguero.  “This berth in historic Atlantic Basin keeps us in Red Hook, where we have our roots and where the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, our floating office, venue, and symbol of New York's continuing maritime industry, began her working life in 1938.  With this berth, the PortSide team can now focus on growth and program expansion. We have some great ideas in the works ranging from culture, education, and neighborhood history to resiliency. We are pumped. Watch this waterspace!”

NYCEDC: “Reconnecting New Yorkers to the city’s 520 miles of waterfront is a priority for this Administration and we are thrilled to welcome PortSide and the historic Mary A. Whalen to the Atlantic Basin,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “Through our DockNYC initiative, we’ve worked to revitalize New York City’s piers and raise awareness about the many opportunities on our working waterfront. We are pleased PortSide is part of the DockNYC family and look forward to the increased educational and cultural amenities it will provide to the Red Hook community‎."

The Port Authority of NY & NJ: “The Port Authority of NY & NJ is pleased to assist PortSide in the relocation of the historic tanker Mary Whalen to her new berth in Atlantic Basin,” said Jon Trutneff, General Manager, NYMT of the Port Authority of NY & NJ.  “This new location, under the auspices of NYC Economic Development Corporation, will provide PortSide with better amenities, unimpeded public access and the ability to carry out its programming visions.”

Council Member Carlos Menchaca (38th District):  PortSide’s home at Atlantic Basin is fantastic news not only for Red Hook, but the entire Brooklyn waterfront.  PortSide is the kind of program that breathes life into our waterfront—connecting communities to our blue space, the historic Mary Whalen tanker, and the planning issues that surround maritime activation.  A hearty congratulations to the entire PortSide team, who worked tirelessly with multiple government agency partners to identify a docking location that we can come together and celebrate as a community.  I look forward to all of the PortSide programming ahead for District 38 and the City at large.   

Council Member Brad Lander: “PortSide is an important and long-standing institution, helping to create a vibrant community in Red Hook both on and off shore,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “I’m very glad to see that PortSide will have a new a new long-term location at Pier 11. Congratulations on securing a new place to call home in Red Hook.”

Council Member Steve Levin:  “I am glad to welcome PortSide NewYork to its new home in Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. PortSide has been connecting New Yorkers to their maritime heritage and working waterfront for years and I look forward to their tradition of providing excellent events and programming continuing at Pier 11.”

NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery:  “For 10 years, the vision and determination of PortSide New York has provided a living history of the maritime achievements of New York Harbor. Under the leadership of the indomitable Carolina Salguero students, adults, and even politicians have learned not just history, but the possibilities for a harbor renewal. And during Superstorm Sandy, the services Carolina and Portside NewYork extended to their neighbors in Red Hook were selfless and heroic. For these reasons I am overjoyed the PortSide's home, the Mary Whalen, will find a home in Atlantic Basin and once again be easily accessible to a public eager to walk her decks!”

TankerFlicks aboard the Mary Whalen

NYS Assemblyman and Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz "It is my pleasure to congratulate Portside New York on being able to call Atlantic Basin's Pier 11 in Red Hook "home." This has been a long time coming, but with your perseverance and determination, you finally made this happen.   With the 77th birthday of the Mary A. Whalen and Portside’s 10th anniversary, it is fitting that PortSide NewYork is now home."

NYS Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon: “PortSide New York has played a vital role in reacquainting the public with New York’s maritime history and in reconnecting the public to the waterfront – educating us all in the process.  The Mary Whalen’s new home will allow her to welcome more visitors, expand access to the waterfront and increase education about New York’s working waterfront.”

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY):  “PortSide NewYork aboard the Mary A. Whalen is an important resource for all of Brooklyn.  It is fitting that she has found a new home in Red Hook at Atlantic Basin, from which the Brooklyn industrial waterfront grew in the 19th Century.  Now PortSide NewYork will be able to run programming for children, adults and families to better connect to the working waterfront.”

Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY):  “It is great to welcome PortSide to Atlantic Basin, helping to spread the word about the importance of the working waterfront to our economy.  Joining in the exciting revitalization around Red Hook and the container terminal, PortSide will continue to teach, inspire and engage New Yorkers of all ages and from all walks of life. I congratulate everyone for their tireless work and dedication in ensuring that this important New York resource remains in Brooklyn and I look forward to continued progress along our working waterfront and container port.”

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce “Congratulations to PortSide NewYork on their new home in Red Hook,” said Brooklyn Chamber President and CEO Carlo A. Scissura. “Over the past decade, PortSide NewYork has worked tirelessly to improve our waterfronts and the public’s access to them, and their recovery efforts during Superstorm Sandy were invaluable to the city. Brooklyn is lucky to have such a terrific non-profit based in the borough, and I look forward to continuing to see the wonderful work they do to enhance waterways across New York City.”

Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 6: "PortSide NewYork is a unique non-profit that brings the communities afloat and ashore closer together. The historic tanker Mary A. Whalen plays an important part of that vision. When the Mary A. Whalen dotted our shore a decade ago, we knew she was something special. For many us, it was love at first sight. Now, she'll get to call Brooklyn Community Board 6 her homeport and finally welcome public visitors. It's an attraction we're bursting to share with the world. Ahoy, Mary!"

 School Visit to the Tanker Mary Whalen

School Visit to the Tanker Mary Whalen

Realty Collective:  “I and the Realty Collective team are so happy that PortSide NewYork is getting a long term home in Red Hook,” said Realty Collective Principal Victoria Hagman.  “Realty Collective was founded on a mission of enriching the communities in which we work and live, and PortSide does that in an exciting, interdisciplinary way.  They have a forward-looking vision AND a historic ship and historic artifacts.  We love their programs in culture, education and neighborhood promotion, and PortSide’s Sandy recovery work and resiliency planning is significant to Red Hook.  After Sandy, I didn’t know what kind of aid center PortSide would set up at 351 Van Brunt, but I had absolute faith that I could give Carolina Salguero the keys and let her run with it. They helped diverse Red Hook constituencies and won a well-deserved award from the White House for it.”

Brooklyn Greenway: "We are delighted to hear word that the Mary Whalen and PortSide have, at long last, secured a home" said Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Co-Founder Brian McCormick. "Thanks to the leadership of Council Member Menchaca and EDC, this is a big score for 'going blue' that is an essential complement to Brooklyn's waterfront 'going green',” McCormick added. 

SBIDC: The Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC) is pleased to celebrate PortSide New York’s 10th anniversary and the Mary A. Whalen tanker’s long-term home at Atlantic Basin, said David Meade, SBIDC Executive Director. “SBIDC has served the industrial and manufacturing businesses along Southwest Brooklyn’s waterfront for close to 40 years, and we know firsthand the benefits of having an advocate for our working waterfront like PortSide NewYork.  Through its care and maintenance of the historic Mary A. Whalen Tanker, PortSide NewYork provides an invaluable educational experience for the Red Hook and larger New York City community to learn about Red Hook’s industrial and maritime waterfront.

Burchenal Green, President, National Maritime Historical Society:  “The National Maritime Historical Society congratulates Brooklyn on having the historic tanker Mary A. Whalen get a long term home in Atlantic Basin. New York City, the state and then our county itself, were developed from this port. Historic ships tell the important stories of that development and enrich the port, and the community, with the opportunity for hands-on experiences and programs. I have met many young people who say they fashioned their career after a visit to a historic ship that visited their port. Here, Atlantic Basin now has its own historic tanker whose story and programs and message, led by Carolina Salguero, will reach and ennoble thousands of Brooklyn’s citizens and guests. I say “Good job!” to all those who made this possible.”

Rick Spilman, noted maritime author and blogger of The Old Salt Blog:  “The tanker Mary A. Whalen is a vital bridge between our past and future. She is an important reminder of our maritime heritage -- of the rough and boisterous years when tugs, steam ships and tankers, like the Mary A. Whalen, plied the harbor and our coastal waters. Now, as the last of her kind, the historic ship provides a glimpse of a sustainable future through the varied programs of PortSide NewYork, which help draw the citizens of this great port city back to the water's edge.” 

John Burkard: The recently deceased historian of Red Hook John Burkard had this to say in 2012: “I truly believe that something like PortSide should have started 50 years ago....If it did, the Village of Red Hook would not be up and coming,, It Would Already Be!”

Chiclet: The ship cat aboard the Mary A. Whalen Chiclet expressed her pleasure at being able to return to full-time work by rolling around on her back with her paws in the air. “Being the Official Greeter has little importance when there is no one to greet,” said shipcat Chiclet.  “Now that people can get to the ship, I expect to be very busy. Plus, I have been told there will be more work on board to supervise. I can’t wait!”

About PortSide NewYork

PortSide NewYork is a living lab for better urban waterways.  PortSide shows how to combine the working waterfront, public access and community development. We bring the communities afloat (maritime) and ashore closer together to the benefit of both.  PortSide NewYork works to activate NYC’s waterfront, especially the BLUEspace or water part of it. 

Since superstorm Sandy, PortSide NewYork has been a key player in recovery and resiliency work.  Our Sandy recovery work in Red Hook won us a White House “Champions of Change” award and honors from the New York State Senate. Our President Carolina Salguero was on the Red Hook committee of the NY Rising Program and contributed many elements to its Red Hook’s resiliency plan.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

New Board Members and Advisors


PortSide has two new Board members & four new Advisory Board menbers

Board members added:

Raymond Howell is the owner and manager of Travel Express.  He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. During the Cuban Missile crises, he co-commanded 3 Nuclear war heads and carried the US top secret war codes.  A former EVP at two major regional banks in Omaha and New Orleans, and the French Bank in New York.  He served on the boards of a major symphony orchestra and a major opera company, and was a founding Director of the Louisiana Nature Center. Prior to moving to NYC in 1985, he lived in New Orleans and was a member of the Southern Yacht club. Soon after arriving in NYC, he co-founded the Gowanus Dredgers canoe club which introduced boating to Brooklyn’s toxic Gowanus Canal and helped spur canal clean-up efforts.  As a result, he was one of the winners of MWA’s 2012 “Heroes of the Harbor” award given to paddling groups.


Domenic Venuto is a senior person in the media/marketing world of digital agencies. He is Principal of Domenic Venuto Consulting and a member of The 614 Group’s Advisory Board. He was previously the Global President of Data, Technology and Partnerships at VivaKi where he was a key contributor to VivaKi’s global growth and digital dominance strategy. During four years, Domenic was responsible for all aspects of product development, from strategy and technology to user experience and data. He also over saw the development of SkySkraper: a powerful, centralized solution for standardizing global media spend and performance data at Publicis agencies, one that drives performance and fuels strategic thinking.  Prior to VivaKi, Domenic was Managing Director of Razorfish’s New York office where his work shaped the online products of Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast’s portfolio of magazines. Before joining Razorfish, Domenic was a Senior Manager in Arthur Andersen’s Business Consulting division where he was responsible for implementing ERP solutions for multinational clients.  Domenic holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne and an MBA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (R.M.I.T.).

Advisory Board members added:

Captain Jonathan Atkin’s diverse work experience includes museum work, performing arts, travel and maritime photography. He has completed over 850 assignments for the New York Times.  Jonathan is currently a maritime photographer specializing in aerial and ship-to-ship media for vessels from cargo and cruise ships to tugs and barges.  He has been commissioned by the world’s leading media and major corporations that include cargo lines, cruise lines, and towing companies.  At 19, Jonathan sailed as an ordinary seaman aboard a bulk cargo vessel from Texas to Israel and back.  While pursuing an MFA at the Rochester Institute of Technology, he briefly creating his own dance group. During the mid-1970’s, Jonathan was Program Developer for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the nation’s oldest children’s museum, where he developed comprehensive media, marketing and graphics identities, and directed the museum’s public relations. His larger Brooklyn responsibilities gave him a role in the process of separating the member organizations of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts & Sciences (Brooklyn Museum, BAM, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Children’s Museum) into the independent entities we know today.  Jonathan’s passions converge in his advocacy for historic ships for which he conceived the Hero Project where he photographs world class dancers aboard historic ships. The Hero Project creates a powerful visual duet of dancers and ships that bring visibility to our nation’s maritime legacy in a new ways that reaches new audiences.


Craig Gundry, SVP Operations of the firm Consorzio IDC. Craig’s career has primarily focused on the commercial side of various organizations’ technical efforts serving in hybrid positions of operations, business development, and project management. While working within the Cruise and Offshore Oil & Gas  markets, he has been involved with technical commodity supply,  maintenance/re-power/new-build projects for power generation, wastewater treatment system maintenance/installations, and passenger space refurbishment/conversion/additions.  Currently, he is SVP Operations of the Italian firm Consorzio IDC which has offices in the USA.  IDC has worked on the famous COSTA CONCORDIA salvage job and is heavily involved with providing EPC services to the Cruise industry, along with engineering and design support to Offshore Oil & Gas.  In his free time he enjoys golf, fishing, and is an avid networker within the maritime industry. Craig is the section chair of the South East Section of SNAME (the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers), has been an active "Big" with Big Brothers and Big Sisters for 7 years, and is a member of South Florida Maritime Lions Club.  He has a B.S. from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.


Barry E.A. Johnson, Principal & Head of Inbound Investment & Global Market Access 32 Advisors, LLC Barry E. A. Johnson leads the Inbound Investment & Global Market Access advisory practice of 32 Advisors LLC. He uses his 55-country network and 25 years of multidisciplinary work experience as a corporate business executive, entrepreneur, and economic diplomat to help companies and governments, accelerate cross-border growth and development. His practice bridges major business, policy and culture gaps that challenge international corporations wishing to enter the US or other markets.  He is a also a Fellow in the University of Texas- Austin's Institute for Creativity and Capital , the innovative “think and do” tank helping to catalyze regional economic development through cross-society collaboration. Previously, he served the Obama Administration, first as as Senior Advisor for Economic Development in the U.S. Department of Commerce; then as founding Executive Director of SelectUSA, the first White House initiative to promote and facilitate inward investment.  Prior to that Barry, worked in the private sector in investment banking, real estate and entertainment industries with a specialization in new business formation. He built a strong track record of launching successful “intrapreneurial” businesses at companies that include Disney, Bertelsmann and Sony; and he was founding President of MSBET, the joint venture between Viacom’s BET Networks and the Microsoft Corporation. Barry also serves on the Board of Directors of the Corporation of Yaddo and is a co-founder of the non-profit organization Global Act. Barry has a B.A from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.


Phil Reed is an accomplished Salvage Master, Salvage Engineer, Marine Engineer, Naval Architect, Naval Engineer.  He worked for Titan Salvage for over 20 years on many and high profile, complex salvage jobsHe was one of six Salvage Masters on the famous COSTA CONCORDIA Wreck Removal Project and was one of the principal authors of the Titan-Micoperi bid tender and was involved throughout the project including parbuckling, refloating and the redelivery of the wreck to Genoa.   In December 2012, he launched his own salvage consultancy Reed Maritime LLC which offers services worldwide to salvors, vessel owners & operators, underwriters, P&I clubs, government agencies and solicitors including Special Casualty Representative (SCR), Salvage Master, Project Management and Salvage Engineer. He is also a US-based member of Lloyd's Panel of Special Casualty Representatives (SCR).  In 2015, he did salvage work in New York Harbor in the matter of the GREY SHARK which was brought, while afire, to the Homeport pier in Staten Island. Phil has a BS in Marine Engineering / Marine Transportation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, and a MS in Ocean Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology.


PortSide NewYork testimony on South Brooklyn Marine Terminal Master Lease between EDC and SBS

 EDC photo of south brooklyn marine terminal (sbmt)

EDC photo of south brooklyn marine terminal (sbmt)

Starting in January 2015, the subject of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) on the Sunset Park waterfront has prompted a lot of consternation - and confusion. The media coverage added more confusion than clarity with stories that were short on information and long on political speculation. 

The media muddle

New York City is the media capital of the nation, and it is also a city where none of the major media, as far as we can tell, has a waterfront reporter.

The reporting on waterfront issues shows signs of that lack, notably in the case of SBMT.  We try to fill some gaps in the story below.  The major media spent little time exploring why the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sought a long term lease from the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) nor illuminated what the relationship is between those two sectors of New York City's own government vis a vis the waterfront. PortSide has been looking into that and will report back in the future.  For now, below, is what we understand to be the essence of the 2015 SBMT story thus far:

The Real Deal in Question

 Map from website from the axis group, the first sbmt operator selected by the edc which went bankrupt.

Map from website from the axis group, the first sbmt operator selected by the edc which went bankrupt.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sought a long term lease from the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). This is the "Master Lease" often referred to, whereby control over the site was moving between one part of City government to another. "Master Lease" here does NOT refer to the EDC's leasing the site to an operator (a private-sector business) in this go-round. A prior lease was made with the Axis Group that was to run car importing on site, but Axis went bankrupt. Their webpage for SBMT was still live as of this May 20, 2015 here

The local Councilperson, in this case Carlos Menchaca of the 38th District, has, via the City Charter, the function of approving or disapproving such a transaction.  

Menchaca did not approve on round one because he felt that SBMT should not be planned singly, that its development should be considered along with other major developments in the area (such as Industry City) and that the multiple EDC sites in Sunset Park (which all tolled amount to an area as large as many neighborhoods) should be considered as a collective, and that the SBMT development should be planned to benefit the adjoining community in some fashion, and that a mechanism or new governing entity for ensuring that should be created.  The latter concern was because, at some sites, the EDC's metric for success has been rent/revenue earned directly by the agency, an economic benefit which does not necessarily advantage the host community of the EDC site.   Menchaca also felt that the EDC had some unfulfilled commitments in the 38th District and said he would withhold approval of an SBMT deal until those commitments were met.  A home for PortSide NewYork was one of the commitments that Menchaca sought and secured.  

The resulting agreement between Menchaca and the EDC is memorialized in a Letter of Intent (LOI).  Thefinalizing of this LOI is what greenlighted the City Council to have another hearing on the SBMT matter, following up on the December hearing, the first. 

A City Council hearing regarding SBMT was held on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.  This was a hearing of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.  To watch the video, look for the link VIDEO on that page.  The LOI between Menchaca and the EDC figured largely in the discussion.  Our President Carolina Salguero testified for PortSide NewYork. We outline our understanding of the contents of the LOI in the Appendix at the end of our testimony.  We copy our testimony in full below, or you download it as a PDF here.

The five council members present voted to approve the Master Lease between EDC and SBS. Other councilmembers were present earlier in the hearing, some commented, some did not.  This will be voted on by the entire City Council at the Stated Meeting scheduled for May 27.

PortSide NewYork testimony about SBMT

Testimony of Carolina Salguero
President, PortSide NewYork
May 19, 2015
Testimony to New York City Council

Re:     NYC Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses
LU 0224-2015, proposed maritime lease between the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT)

PortSide NewYork understands that the EDC-SBS lease discussion led Councilman Carlos Menchaca to work out a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the EDC that includes many terms beyond the SBS-EDC lease and the SBMT site itself. We summarize our understanding of that LOI in Appendix A, and our comments below reflect that understanding.

We commend all parties who participated in the creation of the LOI: Councilman Carlos Menchaca for his vision, steadfastness and willingness to bring multiple parties to the table of future collaboration; and the EDC for listening, for evolving, and for making a strong staff commitment to the Sunset Park waterfront in their new restructuring.  The Sunset Park waterfront is a regional asset that merits such focus.  We applaud the EDC’s commitment to rethink the way it operates in communities where it has assets.

PortSide NewYork’s Credentials

PortSide NewYork is a living lab for better urban waterways.  PortSide NewYork works to activate NYC’s waterfront, specifically the BLUEspace, the water part of it.  PortSide shows how to combine the working waterfront, public access and community development. We bring the communities afloat (maritime) and ashore closer together for the benefit of both.  We think it is key to state that the word “community” also applies to maritime, a constituency that can only be at the waterfront, not just the residential community ashore. PortSide’s Sandy recovery work won us an award from the White House and honors from the New York State Senate.

New template for waterfront management, development and community relations

The LOI is an exciting road map for the future of Sunset Park and of Brooklyn, and it may prove an example for The City. 

We applaud its commitment to holistic planning that will consider the whole suite of EDC sites in Sunset Park and that will integrate developments inside a site fence with what is outside it.

PortSide applauds the development of a task force to influence the RFP for the SBMT site. We are excited that members of the shoreside community will be joined by maritime experts in this task force to help foster the creation of an RFP that reflects maritime market realities.

NYC’s piers have lain fallow for a long time while the maritime industry, which includes non-profits like ours with historic ships, has strained to grow.  All sectors of the maritime industry have been seeking space. The brownwater sector of tugs and barges; charter, excursion and diner boats; ferries and historic ships seeks space.  The Sunset Park waterfront has also attracted strong interest from the bluewater sector, ocean-going vessels that import and export. In fact, there have been two offers to build a containerport in Sunset Park since 2001: Hanjin, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, offered to build such a port if they could run it, and a European concern proposed an automated port.

Elements of this LOI reflect an exciting return to the spirit of Vision 2020, NYC’s comprehensive waterfront plan, created in 2010, which embraced the waterways and called for activating them for multiple stakeholders.

Maritime activation improves resiliency

The spirit of Vision 2020 was at risk of being drowned by Superstorm Sandy which turned water into a frightening force. The resulting flood of federal dollars for resiliency grew a defense-against-water mentality. Fortunately, there is a corrective as the resiliency planning conversation turns towards economic resiliency, and that conversation should foster activation of the waterfront for water-dependant and water-related uses which will grow economic, educational and cultural activity.  

Given the 9/11 waterborne evacuation of Manhattan (350,000-500,000 people) and the one during the 2003 blackout, plus the 2012 lessons of Sandy, planners should bear in mind that the most resilient pier is one that can host many uses, particularly boats, and that supports various emergency functions of evacuation and supply by water. Activating SBMT is a plus in this regard. 

Activate SBMT to work with other major marine & marine rail developments

The Port Authority is making a large investment in the Cross Harbor Project which has rail float bridges near SBMT and a rail line running to SBMT.  SBMT is a regional marine rail transportation asset that should be developed with Cross Harbor in mind.

Indirect economic benefits of waterfront activation

We applaud the evolution in the EDC’s metric for success. PortSide has long advocated that the maritime industry and waterfront activation can offer substantial indirect benefits to the adjoining inland community.  The LOI is a recipe for achieving such goals thanks to commitments to workforce development, the creation of a RFP task force, the installation of better fendering for the north side of the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) Pier 4 which will allow more maritime activity on site, the aforementioned holistic planning, and funds from the SBMT lease to support local programming.

PortSide NewYork’s role going forward

PortSide looks forward to participating in the promises manifest in the LOI.   

•    One of the LOI terms is a home for PortSide on Pier 11, Atlantic Basin in Red Hook with a three year contract.   We thank Councilman Carlos Menchaca for his role in getting us our first real estate stability after a ten-year search for a home.
•    We would like to return to BAT Pier 4 and help activate the site for programming.
•    PortSide would welcome an opportunity to join the RFP Task Force.  
•    PortSide has ways to grow indirect benefits of maritime activity including ways to make the maritime industry a neighborhood attraction and an educational amenity via PortSide’s “learn our infrastructure” ethos.  
•    PortSide can share our Waterfront Policy Recommendations which further explains the ecosystem of the maritime industry and its needs.  

Appendix A - summary of the loi

PortSide NewYork understands the SBMT LOI to include the following:

  • 39-year Master Lease between SBS and EDC.
  • The EDC commits to restructuring with a new Executive Vice President position focused on Sunset Park assets, coordinating within the EDC and pulling from all departments and operating from an office in Sunset Park. The department will consider the effect of all EDC assets in Sunset Park; those are Brooklyn Army Terminal which includes BAT Pier 4, SBMT, Bush Terminal (the industrial park), the Meat Market and Bush Terminal Park.
  • A mechanism to involve the landside community and maritime experts in the creation of a Sunset Park Waterfront Planning and Jobs Task Force that will shape the structure of the RFP to find an operator for SBMT.

Community amenities

  • A customized workforce development program in Sunset Park created in partnership with local community organizations to connect residents to jobs created through activation of SBMT.
  • Commitment from the City to provide full funding for the design and construction of a southern entrance at Bush Terminal Piers Park 
  • Amenities at BAT Pier 4 consistent with the 197a plan
  • Installation of fendering on the north side of BAT Pier 4 which will allow for more docking of vessels on site
  • A planning process to understand the scope and costs of building an eco-pier and children’s playground at Bush Terminal Park 
  • Space for the docking of PortSide NewYork on Pier 11 in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook.
  • Creation of a dedicated fund, from the leases on South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, to support local programming

Pitch in during "Get MARY ready for the public" work

 Sanding and painting needed in this executive suite asap.  a false plywood floor has been cut and painted and needs to be installed after other surfaces are painted.

Sanding and painting needed in this executive suite asap.  a false plywood floor has been cut and painted and needs to be installed after other surfaces are painted.

PortSide NewYork is preparing to have the historic ship MARY A. WHALEN be publicly accessible by summer.  She and we will then be accessible for several years in a row, a real breakthrough after 10 years of operating as a pop-up in continual negotiations for short term permits.  We hope you are as excited by this news as we are! 

We could use some help getting ready, especially because the lingering winter weather delayed painting interior spaces on the ship before we moved our offices back aboard on April 30th.

Come enjoy spring weather on the waterfront and lend a hand.  It's fun here! Join us!

To get involved, call 917-414-0565 or email More about volunteering in general here.

Ways you can help:

Sanding and painting!  

Finish painting the Captain's cabin. Sand and paint the Assistant Engineer's cabin below (currently the office of our President Carolina Salguero).  Sand and paint the Tankermen's and Chief Engineer's cabin.

Like to pack and schlepp? 

We need to move stuff around on the boat and move stuff off the boat. Things in the Tankermen's cabin go up to Captain's cabin once painting there is finished (it's almost done.) Contents of Chief Engineer's cabin are  being taken off the boat to make space. Some stuff (some small, some heavy) goes into storage in the cargo tanks (that all involves fun with rigging).  Btw, did you know that schlepp comes from the German word for tugboat?  

Enjoy the Upacking and Tidying arts?

Can you organize stuff? Like to clean?

Things have been piling up in main office space (two joined cabins) since the end-of-year Rigging Olympics and especially since we moved out of our shoreside office yesterday. We  need to pack up and archjve some things until we can install better storage and desk system.

 this is the fidley after yesterday's move of office from shore to ship. all t his has to get put away and the fidley deck  needs a second coat of paint.

this is the fidley after yesterday's move of office from shore to ship. all t his has to get put away and the fidley deck  needs a second coat of paint.

Good at designing small spaces? 

We seek a new office layout with custom desk surfaces and new storage units for our main shipboard  office space below (two  cabins joined by the previous owners).  We have outgrown our current agglomeration of vintage steel desks and storage units. We have up to four people working in here at a time and much to store. Design needs to take into account that the ship moves.

Crude Woodworking

We need to cut planks to put down a floor in another cargo tank to use it as a storage area.  We need to install temporary plywood floors in two cabins used as office spaces.


Welding needed to finish sealing up the new hatch over cargo tank P2 which was cut late last year so we could store our large collection of vintage maritime artifacts down below. We have some other small welding repairs on hinges on steel doors etc. We are willing to pay for this work.

Revel in communication?

We could use some help with outreach to volunteers and event partners. This work requires a regular commitment of time over two months.

To get involved, call 917-414-0565 or email portsidenewyork(a)  More about volunteering here.