PortSide NewYork gets a new home!

Historic Tanker to Move to Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin

Space for Regular Programming by Fall 2015

Programming Kicks Off With Educators Open House in June

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

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

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

Wheelhouse of the Mary Whalen

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

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

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

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

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

DC 9 trainees painting Mary Whalen's Galley

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TankerFlicks aboard the Mary Whalen

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

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

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

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

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

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

School Visit to the Tanker Mary Whalen

School Visit to the Tanker Mary Whalen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About PortSide NewYork www.portsidenewyork.org

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

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


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