Get the update on our business plan! An innovative, forward-looking maritime center in Red Hook, Brooklyn!Read More
PortSide blogs about our WaterStories programs, urban waterways issues, the BLUEspace, development plans for the NYC waterfront, our ship MARY A. WHALEN and other historic vessels, boats and ships of all sizes.
In this era of Charlottesville, anti-immigrant politics and Muslim bans, I want to share how PortSide NewYork is celebrating different cultures and bringing different people together. One of our means is music and evening TankerTime on the MARY A. WHALEN. In doing so, we continue the traditions of Red Hook and port districts in general.Read More
Great TankerTours day! We were honored to receive a Congressional Record from Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. Councilman Carlos Menchaca spoke. Visitors included some 150 happy people and one dog.Read More
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
SLAVERY IN THE NORTH, IN NEW YORK CITY AND IN BROOKLYN
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. “
NATIONAL AND GLOBAL LEVEL
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PortSide NewYork contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press photos can be downloaded from http://portsidenewyork.org/pr-photos
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.
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.
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.
Exciting 5 Days in Atlantic Basin & NY Harbor
What a whirlwind! In just over a month, PortSide NewYork received a White House award for our Sandy recovery work, had our Founder & Director Carolina Salguero receive a National Maritime Historical Society (NMHS) award, and we were able to open the tanker MARY A. WHALEN to the public for the first time in almost three years!!!
News of that NMHS award facilitated PortSide’s being able to move the tanker into Atlantic Basin, which is how, on very short notice, we could to open the tanker MARY A. WHALEN for her 75th birthday.
Friday 5/17/13, some eighty NMHS members came to the MARY A. WHALEN on a NY Waterways ferry as part of a harbor tour of historic ships. Our Director Carolina Salguero spent the rest of the weekend with NMHS during their 50th anniversary celebrations and annual meeting.
For inspiration about how to think of using our harbor, take a look at the National Maritime Historical Society 50th Anniversary weekend events to see how maritime people connect far flung venues - by boat! The itinerary harkens back to the “Chain of Ships” we once proposed, a series of NYC maritime destinations connected by boat.
With the tanker in Atlantic Basin for the NMHS visit, we asked if we could stay two more days, which is how the ship was suddenly able to be open to the public on Tuesday, 5/21/13, the tanker's actual 75th birthday.
The MARY A. WHALEN was open for public tours during a hot Tuesday afternoon, followed by a public party with “cake and remarks” from 5-7pm, with an evening after-party capping it all off.
TankerTour visitors included the great surprise of crew descendants: Hans Hansen, son of the engineer Hans Hansen who worked with Alf Dyrland, the Captain for 20 years, brought the engineer’s granddaughter Ingrid Hansen for the first time since 1968. She was about 9 when she last visited and remembered that women were not welcome aboard at the time. Some things have changed!
We also received visitors from PS 29, the school for whose Super Science Saturday fair we created our simple “Simple Machine” machine and installation, a highly interactive exhibit we would like to bring other schools and public events. (School staff & parents, please get in touch to help shape programs for the next year!).
PortSide use of the tanker as a social mixer to bring maritime and inland people together was sure evident during the party!
We had the maritime consultants, authors and artists Barry Parker, Rick Spilman & Frank Hanavan, along with community members, families with kids, and Ian Danic, a board member of River Project, with his pet giant macaws.
Frank Hanavan did some turkshead bombing of our gangway rail and strung up ship flags to great effect, assisted by architect and Museum Designer Paul Alter, who peered into the
cargo tanks and expressed an interest in being the man to redesign them for
exhibit and function space when we're ready to do that.
Also attending was the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination team involved with New York State's Sandy recovery. We met them thanks to winning the White House award and are talking to them about how to bring resiliency preparedness resources to Red Hook.
Roland Lewis lead a contingent from the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. Dan Wiley from US Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez' office and Jim Vogel from NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery spent a long time with us, and we were glad to have our prospective landlord John Quadrozzi of GBX-Gowanus Bay Terminal aboard with his wife Xiomara.
As if the macaws were not visual enough, maritime photographer Jonathan Atkin provided more eye candy by running a photo shoot with three magnificent dancers.
Access limitations at our normal berth in the Red Hook containerport had prevented Atkin from getting dancers to the tanker for weeks; so with just two days notice, he assembled three of them to further his Hero Project, an inspired photo concept he created to use dancers to bring attention to the cause of historic ships.
After the party shoot, one dancer tackled his bird phobia with one of Ian's macaws – the MARY A. WHALEN is consistently a place where extraodinarly things happen - and the hip hop dancer Ze Motion, who dances for Madonna and major sponsors, offered to donate a dance performance to PortSide.
What's in a name
The tanker’s 75th, and our new website, are the occasion to introduce the new way we will refer to the tanker.
We’ve been calling her “the Whalen” for short since that was what our Director Carolina Salguero first heard her called in 2001; but we have learned that all former crew members call her “the MAR,Y” and so from here on in, so shall we.
That's a good lead in to note just how rare and precious the MARY A. WHALEN is as well as what PortSide has done with her.
According to Norman Brouwer, a noted maritime historian, the MARY A. WHALEN is the only oil tanker in the world re-purposed as an educational and cultural center. Once the Sandy-damaged tanker JOHN B CADDELL is scrapped next month, Norman says the MARY A. WHALEN will be the last surviving coastal oil tanker in the USA.
What was a sizeable fleet of coastal oil tankers, a type of vessel type which was significant to the war effort during WWII, was destroyed in the course of duty, sunk as artificial reefs, scrapped or , years ago, exported to third world countries.
Some behind the scenes photos - what's involved in moving the MARY
It's great to be a tanker! We could use our own boom to lift aboard a portasan and take it with us, sparing us the cost and hassle of having Royal Flush deliver. The tug RED HOOK approaches, makes up the tow, we haul in our shorepower cord, we pass the container ship pier of the Red Hook Marine Terminal, MV Cape Race as we enter Atlantic Basin, John Weaver attaches the shorepower cord adapter for Atlantic Basin, coming back home at dusk with Red Hook Volunteer Mike Elders on deck, crew of tug SASSAFRAS docking the MARY.
Profuse thanks to the Port Authority, EDC & BillyBey for greenlighting our stay in Atlantic Basin within days. At this time, we would also like to welcome BillyBey to Red Hook as the new operator of Atlantic Basin. Our visit was their first vessel call in Atlantic Basin, and it was an auspicious start! Thanks also to Metro Cruise Services, the operators of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, for their help with the fencing we used during the TankerTours and tanker birthday party.
Thanks to the Red Hook Volunteers for providing essential
set-up and break-down labor. If you want to help Red Hook’s Sandy recovery, please come volunteer with
them! Sandy-damaged businesses, home owners, tenants and NYCHA residents are still being helped by them.
We only recently learned the MARY A. WHALEN's actual launch date was May 21 due to research by noted maritime historian Norman Brouwer, the man who basically wrote THE guides to historic ships and some of our national preservation standards for them. Thank you, Norman!
Special thanks to Vane Brothers for donating the tow between our current berth in the containerport and Atlantic Basin!!! We were very excited to be towed to Atlantic Basin by their brand new tug, the RED HOOK, named in honor of our favorite neigborhood. Vane's NYC operations are based at the former site of Ira S. Bushey's in Red Hook where the MARY A. WHALEN first began her working life, which provides a great reminder of how the working waterfront in Red Hook has a long, and living, history - and we are part of it!