The seam between water and land should be a porous membrane with people and things coming and going across it. Not only would that make the most useful waterfront, it would also make the most interesting and fun one.
— Carolina Salguero, Founder & Director, PortSide NewYork


PortSide brings the community afloat and community ashore closer together for the benefit of both.

The term "Sixth Borough" is often used to describe NYC's waterways, the water part of the waterfront, what PortSide calls the BLUEspace.

PortSide NewYork was founded to inspire more and better use of that Sixth Borough BLUEspace.

We were founded in 2005 in response to the first two decades of "waterfront revitalization" in New York City.  That revitalization focused on the land and did not address the potential of the waterways. 

That wave of revitalization stressed creating view corridors to the water and access to the water’s edge.  It stressed getting people TO THE WATER from the land and did not focus on what to do with, on and about the water once you get there. It did not understand that people can come FROM THE WATER to the land.

For New York City's diverse boat community, it was clear that the City had lost fluency with the maritime language. 

Advocates of boats of all types, from kayaks to cruise ships, from tugboats to tall ships, struggled for years to find dock space in NYC - a struggle that is not over, as PortSide's search for a home from 2005-2015 attests.

PortSide was founded to bring back that fluency, to create waterways bustling with life: boat life, human life, marine life.  To support use of the harbor for a modern working waterfront, culture, education, and recreation -- and, most importantly, to find new ways to harmonize those uses.

Since our founder Carolina Salguero had worked on the waterfront as journalist and advocate for years and did not see the maritime message being heard, she decided to create a place, PortSide NewYork, that demonstrated how things could be different. PortSide would advocate IN ADDITION to delivering programs and services. 

This makes PortSide a think tank and a do tank.

We walk the walk. 

Our goal is to create a waterfront center, with B-to-B services for workboats, a landing for historic, charter and excursion vessels, and water-related programs and services in building space alongside the pier.  

Our movement to reframe the waterfront planning dialogue inspired a pivotal study in 2010.   That year, New York City recognized the need to have its new comprehensive waterfront plan focus on the waterways; and City Planning created, with a year of community input, the plan called Vision 2020. PortSide contributed a lot of input in meetings and testimony. 

Vision 2020 ushered in a new era of water-focused planning and refers to the waterways as the Sixth Borough.  However, Superstorm Sandy hit October 29, 2012, less than two years after Vision 2020 was rolled out.

Don't let Sandy drown the great ideas of Vision 2020  

The post-Sandy resiliency dialogue focuses on closing off the water, on building sea walls; but to activate and use the waterways as per Vision 2020, we need apertures, not solid walls.  We need to "portify as we fortify," as PortSide President Carolina Salguero articulated in at a presentation at AIANY.

There is much work to do.  

One result of prior NYC policy is that the city built and/or designated piers “for views” where boats are now unwanted. PortSide cannot bring the MARY A. WHALEN to some piers, we are told, because “boats block the view.”  We think ships add to the view and that many communities would like to have a ship visit, that brings school enrichment programs, summer camp experiences, visiting tourists, evening cultural events, a floating museum, and some fun!

PortSide also supports waterfront environmentalism. Many trailblazing organizations have established that we need cleaner water and better estuarial management.  We seek to partner with such organizations to offer waterfront ecology programs.