The Good Ship Lilac – In Black and White

It was a grey humid Saturday in Manhattan and after my hair cut in SoHo, I pulled out the camera and turned it towards the sky as I walked from the salon on Wooster Street, crossed Canal Street and up North Moore Street to my final destination, Hudson River Park.

Because the day was so devoid of color I decided to switch the creative mode to black and white and when I put my eye to the view finder, my world was transformed into a wonderful old black and white movie.

The details in the skyline with its juxtaposition of new and old architecture, hundreds of windows and ornately decorated facades, appeared to be etched in the sky. Removing color and concentrating on light and dark imparted a feel of the surreal. Windows looked haunted, tall buildings in the distance; a ghostly appearance, trees smooth and sculpted, flowers and plants luminescent.

The cityscape was fantastic but, and old aged steam ship was manna for this photographer in a black and white, looking for texture and detail mood. Birthed at Pier 25 at North Moore Street is the Lilac, a retired Coast Guard cutter and America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender. The Lilac Preservation Project is in the slow process of restoring her and hopefully someday in the not too distant future we will see her sail up the Hudson powered only by steam. Right now the Lilac is open as a museum to the public for free, although donations are very welcome, and all who board her roam freely over and under the Lilac’s decks. Yes!!!

I crawled all over that ship like an ant on a piece of candy, and though I’m sure this ship will look gorgeous when renovated, I just loved her as she was with her rust, cracked and worn wooden decks, chipped and peeling paint and fogged windows. Standing on the decaying bridge I surveyed the helm and the engine order telegraph and other steering mechanisms from back in the day and on the top of an old cabinet were curling maps laid out for view and study.

Old ships never lose their dignity and grace instead, they become venerable, and the memories of their past adventures have been infused into every hook and cleat, nook and cranny, pulley and rope, nail and screw, and the minute you put your foot on the deck those memories of the great days, seep up through your shoes and into your soul.

To learn more about this lovely old ship please visit the website at: www.lilacpreservationproject.org