Archive for October, 2010

Continuing the ferry theme slightly, if you were to take the Staten Island Ferry from the Battery to St. George and then walk about two miles along the shore of the Kill Van Kull you would come to the Sailors’ Snug Harbor. This collection of Greek Revival buildings was once a home for “aged decrepit and worn out sailors,” founded in 1801 by Robert Richard Randall.


This is where those who made their living on boats could find



There are some beautiful stained glass windows:


Unfortunately, despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the exteriors of the buildings at Sailors’ Snug Harbor have seen better days:


The old Sailors’ Snug Harbor is now the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. You should go see it.

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New York Harbor is not Puget Sound. We don’t have mountains, and we don’t have as many big ferries.

We also don’t have conditions like this:

(For more pictures from this series, click here.)

One of the shortest (if not the shortest) ferry trips you can take in New York City is from the Battery to Governors Island. It takes about ten minutes, but it’s totally worth it. You get to see the water side of the recently restored Governors Island ferry terminal:


You get to ride on a vessel with all sorts of nice details that show the captain runs a tight ship, like this line, neatly coiled and ready for use:


And even if it’s raining you get a view of the East River and its bridges:


For a close-up view of another New York City ferry, click here.

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Those of us who spend time on or near the water are quite familiar with the amazing variety of tugboats. Most are quite large, but sometimes you need something small to get the job done. Here are some of the smaller boats I’ve seen around.

Herbert P. Brake at the entrance to the Gowanus Canal
Bosco from Boston near Troy, NY
Harbor II at work in Erie Basin
An unidentified boat in the Delaware at Marcus Hook, PA

And a personal favorite:

Brian in Gloucester, MA

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The deadline to submit comments on New York City’s proposed comprehensive waterfront plan is approaching faster than Puffin heading up the harbor against an ebb tide. You have until 5:00 p.m. on November 12 to get your comments in. The easiest way is online. The New York City Department of Planning will then compile all comments received and send them to the relevant agencies for review.

If you haven’t read the draft recommendations, you can do that here. This is your last chance to make sure your voice is heard. Speak up for town docks, more marinas, recreational boating, rowing and paddling, access to the waterfront and the water, in- and on-water activities, connecting schoolchildren with the waterfront… whatever floats your boat (so to speak).

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The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is one of New York City’s public high schools, dedicated to using the harbor as an instructional tool. It used to be located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, about as far from the harbor as one can get and still be in New York City. Today was the official opening of the school’s new Governors Island facility, a former Coast Guard building that has been beautifully renovated—an opening complete with the ceremonial cutting of, not a ribbon, but a fishnet.

It was chilly and rainy, but the ceremony was held outdoors. As Harbor School founder Murray Fisher explained, since the ninth-graders were at that moment out on the water on the schooner Pioneer, we should also be outside. The SUNY Maritime band played the anthems of the U.S. armed forces while we waited for the ceremony to begin:

The flags didn’t mind the rain:

Nor did the plants in the school’s garden, a joint project of the art and science classes:

The Sustainable NYC class at Fordham University worked with the Harbor School students to plant the garden and procured most of the plants.

Various dignitaries attended, including New York State Senate Majority Leader John Sampson, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, New York City Council Member Margaret Chin, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Here Nathan Dudley, the school’s principal, addresses the attendees (with Murray Fisher on the right):

Chancellor Klein spoke:

Students listened, some in the rain:

And some from their classrooms:

Finally, Mayor Bloomberg came to the podium as the rain got serious about falling:

The fishnet was cut with golden scissors:

We were rewarded with “light refreshments” for standing in the rain. This being the Harbor School, the refreshments included oysters:

One project of the school is the reintroduction of oysters to New York Harbor, a necessary step for cleaning up the harbor. These oysters did not come from their project (we think).

The Harbor School is the only school in New York with this view from its cafeteria:

And it’s also the only school in New York whose students get to see this every day on their way home from school, as they ride the schoolferry:

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