Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

lightship ambrose

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/07/01

Lightship Ambrose LV 87 / WAL 512
Built: 1907 by New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, NJ
Length: 136ft. (41.5m)
Beam: 29ft. (8.8m)
Draft: 13ft. (3.9m)
Original Illumination Apparatus: three oil lens lanterns
Propulsion: Steam

This lightship was stationed in the Ambrose Channel since 1906, guiding vessel traffic through the main shipping channel just below the Verazzano Narrows bridge, into New York and New Jersey Harbor until 1967. She was given to South Street Seaport Museum by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1968. A light tower replaced it, was hit by ships a few times too many, and, now, the channel is marked by lighted buoys.

Now at the new! improved! South Street Seaport Museum under the fertile wing—nurturing wing?— of the City of the Museum of New York  this lightship was painted in March, and is now being restored and is open for visiting at Pier 16.

The wings of the seaport museum are alive: a new exhibit is up, nautical pieces from another museum I love, the American Folk Art Museum.

And true to the harbor’s spirit, the active gem of the museum, Pioneer, is sailing. Go onboard to sail in the harbor or go and volunteer and learn how to handle lines and many other things that may always serve you well…!

growler

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/05/13

Growler is the sole survivor of the Navy’s fleet of pioneering strategic missile diesel powered submarines.”
– Historic Naval Ships Association

U.S.S. GROWLER SSG-577

Class: Grayback/Regulus II Submarine
Launched: April 5, 1958
At: Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Commissioned: August 30, 1958

Length: 317′ 7″ / 96.8 m
Beam: 27′ 2″ / 8.3 m
Draft: 19′ (surface trim) / 5.8 m
Displacement: 2,768 tons (surfaced)
Armament: Regulus I and II missiles

Speed: maximum surfaced – 20 knots
maximum submerged – 12 knots

Complement:   9 officers, 11 chief petty officers, 68 crewmen

Decommissioned: May 25, 1964

Growler was destined to be sunk as a target, but was saved at the last minute by the Intrepid Museum. More details here. Cool old photos on NavSource.

Pier 86 is the location of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum (West 46th Street & 12th Avenue).

We were surveying some piers located north of the museum, and would have to take tide readings regularly off a tide board posted up just east of this submarine, so these workers would watch us go back and forth, and wave:

And they know what many of us know: any day on the water is better than a good day at the office.

However, if you are in the office, check out Maritime Monday’s submarine edition and order a sub for lunch.

digester eggs of newtown creek

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/04/08

The digester eggs and the walkway/observation deck are a sci-fi aluminum grey, but I was in an aubergine mood today.

The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant has been in operation since 1967. Eight eggs sit on top of 54 acres of sewage plant area through which flow 200 to 310 million gallons of wastewater per day.

What artists these eggs are in the company of!

Etched in granite are the Native American names for these places. Carved into the steps of the kayak launch are the archaeological periods we have somehow survived (with little barnacles and mussels wedged into the steps. Probably zebra mussels, so don’t feel bad for ‘em.) And there is a fragrance garden that is wheelchair accessible, but sorry, nothing for the olfactory-challenged.

A relief of the Newtown Creek, pre-European days, is etched deeply into tilted granite so  rainwater can fill it and flow.  Two metal engraved maps of the areas set into another granite table. One depicts the industrial history from 1887 – 1951 (their source is  Sanborn Maps.) Lime, tin, barrelmaking, oil, gas, petroleum, shipyard, rope and line storage, grinding, dyeing, asphalt, paving, bricks, lumber, stones, iron and bronze works, welding, chemical, box factory, hat and tie company, steam laundry: these are labels on the first map. The dark line delineates the bulkhead.  In the second map, courtesy of the DEP 2008, the dark lines are shrubs. (Who are the artists, please?)

These artists, New York Shitty, are right on the mark: the free-association of eggs, droppings and Nature Walk of purgative plants made me laugh.

Digester eggs Jello art. I am in awe: Gold medal. We know the Jell-o Plant was here (animal carcasses=bone gelatin), thank you Newtown Pentacle.

And this artist–No Pots, Just Paintings–got it. The combination of the eggs and the onion top of the Russian Orthodox churches in the neighborhood are perfect. Alas, s/he is so terse, there’s no information on the artist.

Evocative photos of Newtown Creek here.  Just a stone’s throw across the Newtown Creek is the graffitti mecca, closed for a year during which it was ‘nearly destroyed by vandals’ (developers?)

The official site of the eggs is here, but the others are just more fun, and for thoroughness (fun, history, photos, philosophy, black humor) no one can beat the Newtown Pentacle!

Thank you, Tugster, who put together the combination of digester eggs and Easter, and made it so FUN! a hoppy one to all!

Central New Jersey Rail Road Terminal, Jersey City

Voilà, the gem of Liberty State Park!

cnjrr

The Central New Jersey Rail Road terminal (1889), also known as Communipaw Terminal is one of the most beautiful buildings of New York Harbor. Twenty tracks and four ferry slips provided the terminal with streams of cargo, supplies, passengers, workers. The palatial waiting room has a gabled ceiling three stories high and the most grand view of Upper Bay and the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines; it now houses Liberty State Park’s Visitor Center. Statue of Liberty ferries leave from the slips.

However, the treasure lies behind this elegantly proportioned and well-maintained edifice:

cnjrrjardin

the old tracks are overrun by a jungle of native flora, Nature come to reclaim her domain. Twenty tracks of young trees, tall grasses and weeds flourish, the dark old steel structures are lost amid the riotous green, the sidewalk cracks are colored in by little grasses and sprouts. A beautiful light filters evenly through the open trestles. It is dramatic in full sun, and magical on grey days:

(if it weren’t foggy, you’d have seen lower manhattan when the camera turned west at 0:25, looking out the building)

Nature’s indefatigable force is inspiring. Nothing we make–with all our might!–is going to last. No better proof exists than in the photographs of shipbreaking captured by Edward Burtynsky and Andrew Bell. Or, in the quieter photographs our own Tugster, closer to home, in the Kill van Kull.

What will last? Nature. Of which we can still claim to be a part, despite all our efforts.

“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home…” Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

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