Our ship MARY A. WHALEN made history! She turns 80 on May 21, 2018, and you can visit for art-making and TankerTours on Sunday May 20. She is the only oil tanker in the world open for public culture, education and job-training programs! Come visit! Come get to know PortSide NewYork! We turn 13 this month!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 2018, PortSide NewYork will make a great leap forward in fulfilling our vision of creating a dynamic, year-round maritime center for you! We are doing a new business plan for building space alongside our ship. Get involved!Read More
4th graders from Washington Heights in New York City prompted PortSide NewYork to create a new educational program: tankers and oil spill prevention. The kids are part of an after-school program "First Lego League" designed to grow interest in STEM topics. It's working!Read More
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
PortSide NewYork is excited to welcome you aboard our historic flagship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN in honor of her 78th birthday!
Sat 5/28/16 from 10am-5pm
Sign up for tours on-site. Groups of 20 will be admitted every 20 minutes. No tours at 1:00 & 1:20 as we break for lunch.
Can't make it? For other ways to experience the MARY, see Visitor Info
Flat soled shoes recommended. Directions here
More Ships! On the next pier at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Fleet Week will have three ships open to visit at the same time. Those ships will be open Thursday through Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. More info here.
Visit historic Red Hook, home to great restaurants, bars, cultural institutions and parks! Info
Please support our restoration of the MARY and other programs, donate to our Red Hook WaterStories campaign. Help us raise $20,000 by the end of June to match a grant. Red Hook WaterStories is funded in part by Councilman Carlos Menchaca and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
More about the MARY A. WHALEN
The MARY A. WHALEN is the only oil tanker cultural center in the world and an icon of Red Hook maritime history. She is the last of her kind in the USA and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She is significant for her role in the 1975 Supreme Court legal decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer, a major case in US maritime law. The MARY is a symbol of resiliency because PortSide's crew rode out superstorm Sandy on the ship, and then brought our office equipment ashore to set up and run a hurricane Sandy pop-up aid station.
The MARY A. WHALEN's story is woven into Red Hook WaterStories because she was built for the Red Hook company Ira S. Bushey & Sons and has been based in Red Hook for a good half of her life, first as a working tanker, later as a floating dock and office for Hughes Marine, and as PortSide's flagship since 2007.
The MARY was launched May 21, 1938 at Mathis in Camden, NJ and built for Bushey's, an innovative and unusually diverse maritime company which closed in the 1980s. Bushey's was based at the foot of Court Street and ran a ship yard, fuel terminal and fuel delivery fleet of tugs, tankers and barges. Bushey's built over 200 ships for the Navy and commercial service and had ships built at other yards. Today, the Bushey property remains an active maritime site with the fuel tanks operated by Buckeye and their fuel moved by our friends at Vane Brothers. Vane runs a fleet of tugs and fuel barges and has often towed our MARY A. WHALEN for free. Vane also introduced us to their paint supplier International Paint who has donated all the paint to recoat the decks and house.
Please donate now to support our restoration of the MARY A. WHALEN, public programs aboard which include TankerTours, TankerTime,
and our summer preservation internships with the WHSAD high school,
programs off the ship such as
our Sandy recovery and resiliency work and
Red Hook WaterStories which tells Red Hook maritime history over 400+ years.
Help us match a grant and raise another $20,000 for Red Hook WaterStories by the end of June and donate here!
PortSide NewYork is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a two-year New York City Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) grant for $49,500. We just commenced the contract. The allocation comes from the New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) and supports culture as economic development. REDC grants are very competitive, and we won the first time we applied! We also broke a glass ceiling -- maritime activity has not often been embraced as cultural activity.
PortSide activities cited in our grant application include:
Preservation programs and internships with WHSAD, a fabulous CTE (career and technical educational) high school, what used to be called a vocational school. Read what our summer 2015 WHSAD interns thought of it, in their own words.
Job training program with the Painters Union District Council 9 (DC9) who are the MARY A. WHALEN as a training site.
Red Hook WaterStories a history, mapping, cultural tourism and resiliency project that tells the history of Red Hook, Brooklyn via a water theme. In microcosm, Red Hook WaterStories tells New York City's maritime story.
Our role on the Sunset Park Task Force, where we are represented by our President Carolina Salguero. The first job of the Task Force was helping the NYC EDC shape the RFP for South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Carolina advocated for maritime uses, for avoiding an RFP that had so many proscriptions it would deter respondents, and pushed to allow maritime uses that were originally not going to be allowed (ferries and historic ships). Here is a Task Force description from the NYC EDC:
- "Since July 2015, NYCEDC has worked with Councilmember Menchaca and community partners to establish and convene a Sunset Park Task Force, comprised of representatives from local community groups, businesses, and elected officials.
- The goals of the Task Force are to:
- Maximize the potential of the Sunset Park waterfront in a sustainable and just manner to serve as an economic hub of traditional and innovating industries, including job creation and workforce development;
- Establish and promote regional and local priorities for efficient goods movement;
- Balance community access and needs across public and private initiatives and development; and
- Advocate for preserving and expanding Sunset Park's industrial, manufacturing, and maritime businesses, as well as nonprofit organizations and auxiliary/amenity businesses supporting the local community."
- The goals of the Task Force are to:
Our work on Red Hook's NY Rising Committee. Carolina Salguero was one of the original appointees to the committee by Governor Cuomo's office. She made significant contributions to the final plan submitted to NYS for the $3MM in funding. We are pleased that her advocacy for maritime activation made it into the NY Rising plan and was subsequently picked up by the NYC EDC in their planning for Red Hook's IFPS (Integrated Flood Protection System). The Red Hook community strongly supporting maritime activation as a key value to ensure in any flood protection scheme: "residents said they wanted to encourage the development of the maritime industry and businesses to set up shop in the neighborhood." Carolina's research and writing for the committee is supported by work done by PortSide staff and interns.
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.
PortSide NewYork is honored and excited to be part of Cunard's celebrations commemorating their 175th anniversary!
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.
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
N E W S
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.
# # #
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.
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 www.worldsleadingcruiselines.com.
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
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.
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.
- 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
Our Director Carolina Salguero is on the Red Hook committee of the NYS resiliency planning process "CRP." That process has stressed that the planning exercise is about more than recovery, or flood prevention and mitigation. It is supposed to take a long and broad view which includes economic resiliency years into the future.
This emphasis prompted Carolina Salguero to make some suggestions regarding Red Hook's waterfront assets, both their potential and the impediments to reaching their potential. She wrote a document to cover what was not being said in the CRP discussion that seemed essential to get into "Needs and Opportunities" document that was due on 10/28, a document that was first described as "a conceptual plan for Red Hook" and then later as a guide for issues to be discussed. PortSide shares that document below.
Many of the themes about policy, permits and pier design reflect citywide issues, so this blogpost has relevance beyond Red Hook and beyond Sandy issues.
The document is marked DRAFT as it was done in a rush due to a NYS deadline of 10/28 for that "Needs and Opportunities" document,. DRAFT signifying that it will be updated. After discussion at PortSide, we decided it was important to get this information out and shared without further delay given the pace of the CRP process -- also given the pace of the Bill de Blasio transition team.
PortSide, along with many other waterfront operators and advocates hopes that the impediments described will be lifted. NYC created a great road map for activating the waterfront, and the water part of the waterfront, in its new comprehensive waterfront plan "Vision 2020." Many of the changes proposed here would move the city towards fulfilling the great promise of that plan.
“Understanding Red Hook waterfront options means understanding a lot of arcane regulation and policy, so I have written up the following observations and suggestions to help Red Hook committee members of the CRP who are not waterfront people. “
“Red Hook is a peninsula. Water is therefore our greatest resiliency challenge due to the risk of floods, but water is also the defining feature of this place and our greatest economic asset.”
“If nothing else, consider the clout: the largest land owner in Red Hook looks to be the Port Authority, and Red Hook’s relationship with the Port could be grown and improved. The Committee should be sitting down with the major property owners.”
“Understanding and capturing the potential of Red Hook’s waterfront involves understanding and engaging a constituency that is not usually at the table in Red Hook planning discussions, the maritime community.”
Use CRP to improve NYS & NYC policy regarding pier design & use:
1. Change State Dept of Environmental Conservation (DEC) policy regarding permits to install or repair a pier
2. Change NYC policy, to go beyond just “access to the waterfront” to promote use of the water itself.
3. Change NYC policy regarding pier design & management
Longer Term Improvement Opportunities
o Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Shed
o Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Parking Lot
o Atlantic Basin
Reality Check: limitations on Atlantic Basin waterspace use
o Valentino Park
o A Home for PortSide NewYork
A. A Home for PortSide NewYork
B. DEC Impediments to pier repair and construction
Testimony to New York City Council
Committee on Waterfronts
Re: 6/15/05 Regulatory Obstacles to Waterfront Development
C. Frequent impediments to boat use of piers in NYC
Erika's generous offer of time prompted us to launch a December campaign "This Old Ship Kitchen" to return the Mary A. Whalen galley to its 1938 glory. We are looking for donations of materials, services and funds.
PLEASE DONATE TO SUPPORT THIS WORK!
Erika's offer is particularly important to us because security regulations in the Red Hook Container Port tightened last year so that our Director Carolina Salguero is now the only person who can bring in visitors who don't have the Homeland Security ID, the TWIC card, and the TWIC card limit is 5 visitors per card. In short, PortSide can only have 5 visitors at a time who don't have a TWIC card. This limitation pretty much shut down our volunteer program in March 2012 (one of the reasons we are so keen to get a home out of the port.) Erika's having a TWIC card allows her to come and go without Carolina.
Erika is an Air Force veteran whose resume says compelling things such as "Prepared strategic communications plan for Army drawdown in Afghanistan on behalf of a four-star U.S. Army headquarters."She's changing careers and starts at SUNY Maritime College in January.We'll give her some intro maritime training before SUNY, and she's going to do major work renovating the galley of MARY A. WHALEN.
As Erika put it, MARY’s “galley is a treasure within a treasure.” The cozy space has a Webb Perfection cast iron stove patented in 1918 which burns diesel (Our Director Carolina has learned how to use it), a wood paneled fridge and freezer, and handsome black and white tiled floors. Silver details in Monel metal; bronze portholes (in need of paint removal, fomer crews clearly tired of polishing), a large table which seats eight. It's bigger than most NYC apartment kitchens!
Carolina has started chipping paint in the galley to look at the history of paint layers to determine original colors, but stopped after shipcat Chiclet starting trying to eat paint chips. Chiclet was ushered out and chips swept up. We've been researching 1930s kitchen photos on line and started a rash of buying 1930s kitchware on eBay. Wait til you see the toaster!
Carolina has also posted questions to the Tugboatinformation group on Facebook, to ask for guidance. Here's part of one post:
I have a restoration question about galley paint color. We are about to do over the galley. Any of you have memories, photos or information as to how galleys might have been painted in 1938? I've been chipping paint here and there to see underlying colors, but I strongly suspect that some paints changed their color as they aged cuz I can't believe that lots of Mary A Whalen bulkheads were painted a kind of nasty khaki mustard color. Also, since I don't think all the cabinets in MARY's galley are original, I cant count on the layers in the paint history to tell me what was original. I"m pretty sure the galley was not all white at the outset. Could cabinet doors and drawers have been painted a different color from the cabinet as was common in 1930s kitchen's ashore and as in this photo? There's a light apple green that is very typical of that time ashore as in this photo. Could that have been on a workboat? I've found it on overhead and bulkheads in one cabin. Thanks for any info!
The galley is one of the tanker’s most popular spaces during our TankerTours - whether we are showing it to elementary school kids, professors or the general public. PortSide uses the galley as office space, board room and as the site of Supper Club dinners we will revive after the renovation.
We also use it as a board room, conference room and office space, not to mention staff lunch room (when it is too cold to use the picnic table on deck)
- Paint stripper (for metal dishrack & stove hood, 5 brass portholes, 4 steel drawers, 2 small wood shelves)
- Chemical cleaning of tile floor
- Furniture restorer to rebuild backs of 8 galley stools, and 5 galley seats.
- Re-activate fridge & freezer. Change compressors from DC to AC electricity, replace Freon, change gaskets.
Equipment & material
- Compressor and needle guns
- 2 cordless electric drills
- industrial cleaners and degreasers
- painters’ paper to cover the tile floor
- small number of floor tiles and adhesive to replace missing tiles
- Tyvek suits
- Disposable latex gloves
What donors get
Donors who give over over $500 in funds or services get two seats at Supper Club dinner in the newly renovated galley, credit on our website on the pages DONATE and MARY WHALEN PRESENT for one year.