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Colonial-era ship timbers buried in the mud, stopped construction at the World Trade Center site on the morning of July 13, 2010. Photo courtesy Lamont-Doherty.

Do you remember when the timbers of an ancient ship were found beneath the World Trade Center site, near where the Twin Towers once stood?

Archeologists whisked away the mud-encrusted wood, and after 4 years of intensive study have determined the ships origin. [Lamont-Doherty]

A team of archeologists with New York-based AKRF cataloged each timber and artifact before hauling the pieces off site. Photo courtesy Lamont-Doherty.

Tree ring analysis of the white oak frame timbers show the vessel was built in or around 1773 in a Philadelphia shipyard.

Detail of north elevation of Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall), from 1752 map of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Image: Library of Congress via wikipedia

What’s more, the white oak used in the mystery ships timbers came from the same old growth forest in the Philadelphia area as wood used to build Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, built between 1732 -1753, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed.

The Hickory ships keel told scientists the ship was probably built in the northeastern United States. Photo courtesy of Lamont-Doherty.

The ship’s keel, made of hickory, was the first breakthrough. Hickory had disappeared from Europe thousands of years before the Colonial-era which indicated that the ship had most likely been built in the northeastern United States.

The entire ship was scanned before its removal to create a precise record of where each of its pieces were originally found. Image: Corinthian Data Capture LLC via Lamont-Doherty.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory | Columbia University: In a study now out in the journal Tree Ring Research, the scientists say that an old growth forest in the Philadelphia area supplied the white oak used in the ship’s frame, and that the trees were probably cut in 1773 or so—a few years before the bloody war that established America’s independence from Britain.

Well-defined growth rings in the white oak in the ship’s frame. In dry years trees form tighter rings, in wet years, wider rings, creating a record of the climate in which the trees lived. Photo courtesy Lamont-Doherty

As trees grow, they record the climate in which they lived, putting on tighter rings in dry years and wider rings in wet years. In the process, a record of the region’s climate is created, allowing scientists to see how Philadelphia’s climate differed hundreds of years ago from say, New York’s Hudson Valley. The climate fingerprint also serves as a kind of birth certificate, telling scientists where pieces of wood originated.

Archeologists identified the ship a Hudson River Sloop much like Pete Seeger’s Clearwater. Photo by Anthony Pepitone via Lamont-Doherty

The ship itself has been tentatively identified as a Hudson River Sloop, designed by the Dutch to carry passengers and cargo over shallow, rocky water. It was likely built in Philadelphia, a center for ship-building in Colonial times.

Read more of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory | Columbia University report here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee.

Newly wed Capt. John Doswell will be hosting today’s Hidden Harbor Tour of Port Newark. It’s a beautiful day to be on the water, and what better way to spend a gorgeous Saturday morning than to take a cruise behind-the-scenes of our magnificent working harbor.

Bill Miller will be guest-narrating with Capt John, powerhouses of our working waterfront. Bill, an expert in the history of the Hudson River and her glory days as the Ocean Liner Capital of the East, and Capt John Doswell with his extensive knowledge of the inner workings of NY Harbor, will enthrall you with their stories.

The 2.5 hour tour will cruise the KVK, ships highway to the towering cranes at Port Newark – passing maritime dry dock repair, state-of-the-art FDNY fireboats, while motoring alongside tugboats navigating huge container ships beneath the graceful arch of the Bayonne Bridge into the 3rd largest port in the nation.

Get an insider’s view of how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. Enjoy close up views of port terminals where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world.

Our tour boat leaves Pier 84 (W42 St./12 Ave.) at 11 am (boarding at 10:30am), returning to Pier 84 at 1:30pm. You can get tickets at this link, or purchase them dockside at the Circle Line ticket booth. Just ask for the Hidden Harbor Tour!

See you onboard!

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee. All photos by Mitch Waxman, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee


Maher Terminal Port Elizabeth. Photo by John Skelson

Go behind the scenes of our bustling port on a Hidden Harbor Tour this Saturday. The Working Harbor Committee presents their 2.5 hour fully narrated Hidden Harbor Tour of Port Newark, in partnership with Circle Line Sightseeing.

Bill Miller, “Mr Ocean-Liner” is the guest speaker and together with Captain John Doswell, they will give industry-insider tidbits as the tour boat winds her way through the harbor. Get tickets here.

Explorer of the Seas Pearl River and Quantico Creek. Photo by John Skelson

The tour departs from Pier 84 on the Hudson River (W42nd Street and 12 Avenue), on a comfortable Circle Line boat with an outdoor deck as well as an air-conditioned deck and cruises through “tugboat alley” – the Kill Van Kull, to the container terminals of Port Newark.

Laura K Moran Pushing Hard. Photo by John Skelson

a journalist from recently joined us on a tour. She wrote of her experience:

It’s easy for us New Yorkers to forget that we’re actually islanders, and even easier to lose sight of the size and scope of the working port that our city’s harbor once was . . . and very much still is. In fact, New York Harbor today only trails Long Beach and Los Angeles in California amongst the nation’s largest ports in terms of size, and holds the title of the busiest working port on the East Coast.

So many photos! Photo by John Skelson

For some insight into this behind-the-scenes side of NYC, Hidden Harbor Tours recently launched operations aboard Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises (the tours were previously conducted on New York Water Taxi) to showcase a fascinating back-door peek into the goings-on of New York Harbor (including both the New York and New Jersey waterfronts) that’s far removed from the typical tourist boat circuits that normally ply these waters.

Underway. Photo by John Skelson

Participants get to ogle nooks and crannies where the other tourist boats don’t venture, offering up-close encounters with tugboats, shipping barges, and other assorted maritime vessels, plus plenty of hidden-from-view shoreline sights that you wouldn’t be able to see any other way.

Morgan Reinauer at Caddell’s Dry Dock. Photo by John Skelson

Designed by nonprofit organization Working Harbor Committee, the narrated 2.5-hour tours launched in June 2014, and are scheduled to run on select Saturdays through October. Commentary onboard is offered by a rotating roster of noted maritime speakers and historians.

Gramma T Lee Moran huffin’ and puffin’. Photo by John Skelson

Cruises board at 10:30am, and sail from 11am to 1:30pm. Tickets cost $40/adults; $35/seniors; and $26/kids ages 3 to 12 (children under 3 are free). A portion of the ticket proceeds go toward supporting Working Harbor Committee’s mission. Visit or  to book; sailings embark on Circle Line from Pier 83 on the Hudson River (at W. 42nd St. & 12th Ave.). Read more at here

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee. All photos except image of Bill Miller by John Skelson.

Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, a nonprofit organization of hundreds of artists, will open their summer exhibit “Out of Order” this weekend in Red Hook, as reported by The Observer.

Jessica Fox, “Graffiti Girl.” (Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition) via The Observer.

BWAC is housed in 25,000 square feet of gorgeous waterfront space in one of the O’Connell Organization‘s historic Civil War-era warehouses at the tip of Van Brunt Street across from Fairway supermarket in Red Hook.

499 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook Brooklyn. Photo via

The Observer: The organization started as a tight-knit group of Dumbo artists in 1978, but they didn’t have a permanent home until developer Greg O’Connell stepped in, said Jane Gutterman, the organization’s arts administrator.

Photo via

“We started as a very small organization and we didn’t have a space,” Ms. Gutterman said. “Then 20 odd years ago, he gave us a space—first a smaller portion of the space and now 25,000 square feet. It’s really wonderful.”

Photo: (BWAC) via RedHook

The art exhibition will feature over 800 pieces by over 200 artists working in traditional and digital medias, and starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 26. Immerse yourself in art, live jazz and chocolate cocktails at the ‘meet-and-greet’ reception with the artists.

Charlotta Janssen, “Arrested July 13, 1961, Jackson, MS: Eddie Austin, 18.” (BWAC) via The Observer

The Observer: “The show will contain works critical and comical, traditional and digital, flat and 3D,” says a prepared announcement from the organization. “There is a special juried section, ‘World Out of Order,’ where problems such as homelessness, poverty and hunger are addressed and 25 percent of the sales will be donated to charities.” Read more at The Observer here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee





The New York Times reports that the historic steamship SS United States could be headed for Brooklyn in a matter of months.

SS United States docked at Philadelphia, Pa. Photo by Lowlova via wikipedia

The 990-foot-long, luxury ocean liner that once steamed across the Atlantic has been slowly disintegrating, tied to a pier in South Philly.

The ships financially struggling owner, the SS United States Conservancy has been talking to several developers about options for converting the vessel into a hotel/entertainment/shopping mall complex, or some other combination of reuse, in an effort to save the “last American ocean liner” from being scrapped.

SS United States at sea, 1950s. Photo via wikipedia item held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

The New York Times: Scrapping the ship would destroy a piece of American social history and an engineering landmark that still holds the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing by an ocean liner, said Susan L. Gibbs, executive director of the conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs.

“There is no other American ocean liner left,” she said in an interview. “This is the last one.”

SS United States in dock at Pier 86 in New York on 31 July 1964. Photo by JR Covert via wikipedia

Now there’s word that the ship could come back to homeport here in Brooklyn.

The ship may move to a location in Brooklyn within four to six months if negotiations with the conservancy succeed, according to a person with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are continuing.

The person said he was optimistic that a deal would be done, and that the ship would be reborn as a commercial and cultural center.

The SS United States in Philadelphia February 25, 2012. Photo by Smallbones via wikipedia

Simply keeping the ship tied up in Philadelphia costs at least $60,000 a month, and that has drained the conservancy’s resources to the point where redevelopment is the only option, Ms. Gibbs said.

SS United States in New York Harbor. Photo postcard via Cafe Parisian

Despite the ship’s historic listing, the conservancy receives no government funding, she said. Read more at the The New York Times here…

Anyone know where she might be headed in Brooklyn? Any speculations?

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Photo via New Amsterdam Market facebook page

Founder Robert LaValva announced this week that the New Amsterdam Market that has been a staple in the South Street Seaport neighborhood since 2007, is no more – kaput, shuttered, done. [Downtown Express]

Although Amsterdam Market had an event scheduled for July 26th, with “noted chef David Tanis, formerly of Chez Panisse, on a seasonally inspired clam bake” – it seems that the most recent market day on June 21st was the last one.

Downtown Express: New Amsterdam Market board member Roland Lewis, who is also president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, told Downtown Express that the move to close the non-profit greenmarket by LaValva came as a surprise to its board.

“We haven’t spoken to Robert,” Lewis said. “It’s always been a challenge for the market to make it.”

The board held an emergency meeting Monday to discuss how to proceed.

“We would like to see the market continue,” he said.

Photo via New Amsterdam Market facebook page.

LaValva blamed the markets closure on elected officials in a scathing email announcing the markets demise. Read more at Downtown Express here.

Photo via New Amsterdam Market facebook page

The below was also posted on the New Amsterdam Market website.

Founded in 2005, New Amsterdam Market was first held at the site of the Old Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan on December 16, 2007. Over the ensuing seven years, the market grew in frequency and scope while nurturing an evolving community of small businesses dedicated to sustainable food production, regional economies, and fair trade.

Photo via New Amsterdam Market facebook page

Through our steadfast presence under every adversity, we also championed the preservation of New York City’s oldest commons, where public trade has been conducted since 1642. But in 2013 the community was betrayed by elected officials who had professed their support but were ultimately swayed by the demands of the suburban shopping mall developer, Howard Hughes. As a result, Lower Manhattan has already lost one acre of irreplaceable public space and is now seeing its most precious public asset ruined by inappropriate programming.

Our last market at this location was held on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

We thank all who participated in this endeavor.

This photo was captioned “Stay tuned…” on the New Amsterdam Market facebook page last night.

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Photo via The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Golten Marine, who has been repairing engines and machining parts for ships in Red Hook for some 60-odd years, has closed their Van Brunt facility, Micah B. Rubin reports in the Red Hook Star-Revue.

Photo via Golten Marine.

For decades, marine mechanics worked long hours rebuilding the engines of stranded ships and tankers from all over the world.

Photo via Golten Marine

Now, the previously ever-present hiss of the shops air-compressor has gone quiet.

Photo via Golten Marine

Red Hook Star-Revue: On July 3, Goltens went silent, the building sold to LIVWRK, a developer with plans to convert the industrial space into office and creative spaces. 

Sandro and Ivo in the newly empty space. Photo by Micah B. Rubin/Red Hook Star-Revue

For the employees of Goltens – many of whom spent their careers covered in the building’s grease and grime – the closing hurts. Not because on April 4th, they lost their jobs. Not because they lost their income. Because they lost their family.

Photo via Golten Marine

Since then, the same guys who spent years mending and repairing damaged ship parts have been dismantling their second home… Read more by Micah B. Rubin in the Red Hook Star-Revue here.

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee, hat tip to John McCluskey, WHC steering committee member


Historic Fireboat John J. Harvey rides! Photo via MWA

Just 3 more days until the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance presents their annual City of Water Day festival!

Man the monitors of a historic fireboat. Photo via MWA

Every July, the MWA hosts City of Water Day – a full day festival, filled with free waterfront activities – boat rides, live music, dockside tours, great food and more!

Photo via MWA

There’s even a cardboard-kayak race – so much fun for the whole family.

Competitors from last year’s cardboard kayak race. Photo via

City of Water Day: MWA’s City of Water Day Festival is a free day-long celebration that draws thousands of people from throughout the NY-NJ metropolitan region to participate in hundreds of unique, fun, and educational waterfront activities held all around the harbor.

Organized by MWA and its 700 Alliance Partners, the events run between 10am – 4pm this Saturday July 12th, 2014. 

Hands-on exhibits for the whole family to enjoy. Photo via MWA

Check out the many, activities at the festival and in your own neighborhood! Click here for directions to the various locations.

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Will the third time be the charm?

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. has re-issued an RFP to develop a supermarket-restaurant-retail space at Admiral’s Row – 12 badly deteriorated buildings on Flushing Avenue that formerly housed naval officers. [Crain's]

Buildings H and C on Flushing Avenue. Photo by Jim Henderson via wikipedia

Called a veritable “food desert” by the president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard David Ehrenberg who says the development would “provide both the neighborhood and the 300-acre Navy Yard complex with a long-needed go-to place for groceries”.

Brooklyn Navy Yard. Photo by Jim Henderson via wikipedia

Crain’s: On Monday, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. released a request for proposals to build a big supermarket there, as well as additional retail space that could house shops or restaurants and more office and industrial space.

Clinton Avenue gate – the main gate of Brooklyn Navy Yard. Photo by Jim Henderson via wikipedia

It is the third time that the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., the nonprofit that operates the area, solicited developers for the site in as many years after two previous winners for the site, PA Associates and subsequently Blumenfeld Development Group, were dropped.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard. Photo: Buck Ennis via Crain’s

The nonprofit predicts that the project will require more than $100 million of investment and will generate 500 jobs. The deal will be structured so that the winning developer will lease the site long term.

The Admiral’s Row development will also allow the Navy Yard to add about 127,000 square feet of office and industrial space. That square footage will largely be on the second floor of a new building that will house the supermarket on its ground floor. Read more at Crain’s here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas. Photo via The Royal Navy.

Named after the British monarch, the HMS Queen Elizabeth was christened with a bottle of single-malt whiskey, instead of the usual champagne on the 4th of July, 2014 in Fife, Scotland.

She’s the largest warship ever built in the UK, the 65,000 ton aircraft carrier is the first of 2 new Royal Navy warships being built. [BBC News]

HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo via The Telegraph.

BBC News: First Sea Lord Admiral George Zambellas said the ship was “fit for a Queen”. “HMS Queen Elizabeth will be a national instrument of power and a national symbol of authority,” he said in a speech. “That means she will be a national icon too, all the while keeping the great in Great Britain and the royal in Royal Navy.”

The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh for the naming ceremony. Photo via BBC News

Addressing the audience, the Queen said the “innovative and first class” warship, the largest ever to be built in the UK, ushered in an “exciting new era”.

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo via The Royal Navy

“In sponsoring this new aircraft carrier, I believe the Queen Elizabeth will be a source of inspiration and pride for us all,” she said.

“May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

The Red Arrows flew over the dockyard before the Queen officially named the ship. Photo via The Royal Navy

Six shipyards in the UK including Tyne, Rosyth and Appledore have been involved in building parts of the carrier. More than 10,000 people at more than 100 companies have worked on HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has been beset by construction and design delays. The estimated cost of the vessel and its sister ship is £6.2bn, well over the initial projected cost of £3.65bn.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers being built. Photo via BBC News

The warship is as long as 25 buses and can carry 40 jets and helicopters at a time. It will have a permanent crew of almost 1,600 when it enters service in 2020. Mr Booth described it as a “floating military city that can deploy aircraft, that can act as a disaster relief center”. Read more at The BBC News here

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee


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