This past Sunday (10/16) I took an unusual and very interesting boat trip sailing around Staten Island for a behind the scenes look at the working and historic side of the New York/New Jersey Harbor.
I boarded a packed New York Water Taxi at Battery Park and set sail at 10:00am across the Hudson River toward Staten Island. The first site was Robbin’s Reef Light House one of the many historic light houses that were, back in the day essential in guiding ships into the various ports of New York and New Jersey. This lighthouse as tiny as it is was home to the lighthouse keeper and his family. It must have been quite a challenge to live in the middle of upper New York Bay. The lighthouse keeper’s, wife Kate Walker would row her children to Staten Island to attend school every day. One heck of a commute and one heck of a mom!
We passed by the Saint George Ferry Terminal, through the Kill van Kull, the Arthur Kill, (kill or kille is Dutch for riverbed or water channel) and Fresh Kills Landfill which is soon to become a public park. We glided under the metal arches of the Bayonne and Goethals Bridges, and stopped a few minutes at the infamous Staten Island boat graveyard.
For most of the time I was positioned on the top starboard side toward the front of the boat but would wander around depending on what we were passing and where the sun was at the time. Everywhere though, from port to starboard from stern to bow one could observe and photograph the harbor’s bustling maritime traffic. I saw the little but powerful tug boats pushing and pulling huge tankards. Mammoth cargo ships cutting through choppy waters heading to the container terminals. Numerous small commercial and tourist boats, ferries, a smattering of leisure craft out for a mid autumn sail, and of course lighthouses.
The industrial shore line facing the harbor from both Staten Island and New Jersey is not your typical picturesque landscape, but for those who love to photograph gritty urban industrial “stuff” like I do, this is the place to be. The Port of Elizabeth’s huge cranes sat looking like lawn chairs for giants, enormous gas tanks with spiral staircases winding around their corpulent bodies, sprawling industrial plants with plumes of steam puffing from their tall stacks, as well as remnants of old factories, docks, boats and other terrific flotsam and jetsam, dotting the shoreline.
On our way back home we passed under the beautiful Verrazzano Narrows Bridge heading back toward Battery Park stopping for a few minutes to say hello to Lady Liberty where I got a shot of a helicopter circling her like a large pesky flying insect. I bet you didn’t know that the Statue of Liberty was also a light house. The view of lower Manhattan as seen from the middle of the river in the late afternoon sun is just spectacular and a great photo opportunity for all photographers.
This tour was provided and sponsored by the Working Harbor Committee whose mission is to “strengthen awareness of the working harbor’s history and vitality today, and its opportunities for the future.” After viewing my photos and website, check out their website for the next Hidden Harbor Tour.
Enjoy and Stay in Focus,