Hoboken’s Loss is Brooklyn’s Gain as Historic Ferry Yankee Crosses New York Harbor to Red Hook

Well-wishers bid farewell to the Yankee Ferry as it's tugged from Pier 12 toward Red Hook, Brookyln   Photo: Hoboken Patch

Well-wishers bid farewell to the Yankee Ferry as it’s tugged from Pier 12 toward Red Hook, Brookyln Photo: Hoboken Patch

About two years, ago we posted about two historic vessels in New York harbor, the ferry Yankee and the tanker Mary Whalen.  In the space of two days, two different real estate and design publications featured articles about the grand old vessels, prompting us to ask “Are Historic Ships Getting Trendy in the Big Apple?

We may have been overly optimistic.  As it turns out both historic ships have had their share of real estate issues.  The ferry Yankee was recently evicted from a berth in Hoboken and the tanker Mary A. Whalen has been looking for a suitable home for some time now. Fortunately for both ships, and for ship lovers in New York and environs, it looks just possible that both vessels may find a home on the other side of the harbor from Hoboken in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Hoboken’s Loss is Brooklyn’s Gain – the Ferry Yankee Crosses the Harbor

The 106-year-old 150-foot-long steel ferry, Yankee, was docked in Hoboken for more than seven years.  For the first six, it was alongside a private pier in the Shipyard Marina, but after Superstorm Sandy, the ferry relocated two piers south to city-owned Pier 12 on a temporary emergency basis.  In April, the Yankee was given an eviction notice, and despite efforts to reach an agreement with the city, was towed out of Hoboken on July 2.

Fortunately, Hoboken’s loss was Brooklyn’s gain. A new home across the water was waiting for Yankee at the Henry Street pier in Red Hook.  With the help of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, the ferry’s owners’, Victoria and Richard Mackenzie-Childs, connected with John Quadrozzi Jr. of the Gowanus Bay Terminal, who allowed the ferry to dock at his pier in Red Hook.

The ferry Yankee has a long and illustrious history.  Built with a steel hull and three decks in 1906 in Philadelphia,  the vessel has served as a passenger ferry, a troop transport in both world wars, and is the last surviving Ellis Island ferry.  The Yankee was registered as an historic vessel with the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Will Red Hook Become New York Harbor’s Home for Historic Ships? 

As we have posted previously, the tanker Mary A. Whalen, has been looking for a suitable home for some time now. (See our post - No City for Old Tankers.)  The historic tanker is currently inaccessible to the public in a berth at the Red Hook Container terminal.  If all goes well, the Mary A. Whalen may become a neighbor of the ferry Yankee.  Quadrozzi is also in talks with PortSide NewYork, the owner of the Mary A. Whalen, to have that boat moved permanently at the Gowanus Bay Terminal Columbia Street pier.  If negotiations go well, Red Hook may yet be be a home for New York’s historic ships. Two historic ships is not a fleet but it is a good start.

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