Members and supporters of New York City’s maritime community gathered today at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal for a rededication ceremony for The Brooklyn Working Waterfront, an eight-panel mural that honors the people who made Brooklyn’s waterfront a vital part of the American economy. The event, hosted by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), was attended by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Richard M. Larrabee, Director, Port Commerce Department, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, James Devine, President, New York Container Terminal, and Louis Pernice, President, Local 1814, International Longshoremen’s Association.
“The rededication of this historic mural is a fitting tribute to the many men and women who today are contributing to the rebirth of New York City’s waterfront as a dynamic economic engine of the City’s economy,” said Seth W. Pinsky, President, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). “With industrial maritime uses at Red Hook expanding into Sunset Park, and the thriving container terminal at Howland Hook in Staten Island, the New York Harbor is on its way to reclaiming its former status as a vibrant hub for international shipping. I am pleased that NYCEDC is a part of this revitalization and this tribute.”
The 24-foot by 9-foot mural was created in 1963 by Bernard Seaman (1913-1989), a noted editorial cartoonist and artist. It was originally displayed in the lobby of the Brooklyn Longshoremen’s Medical Center in Brooklyn. When the building was scheduled for demolition in 2008, the efforts to preserve the mural were spearheaded by ILA Local 1814 President Louis Pernice and the members of the local union. The transfer and reinstallation at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal was funded by New York Container Terminal President James Devine.
“The working waterfront has always played a significant role in the lives of New Yorkers and the economy of New York City, and this mural is a beautiful illustration of that relationship,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “I, along with all New Yorkers, am grateful for the generosity of the New York Container Terminal and Jim Devine, its CEO, who paid for the preservation and relocation of the mural to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. I cannot think of a better location for it than at this cruise terminal with the views of the cranes, stevedores and the working waterfront at the Red Hook Container Terminal next door.”
New York State Assemblyman, Felix Ortiz conveyed his support for the rededication of the mural, “I commend the individuals who have worked so diligently to preserve this wonderful piece of art and for finding it a new home right here in our Red Hook Community. Preserving such historic relics is essential in understanding and celebrating the rich history of this great city. I am thankful to our leaders who recognized the importance of this project and I look forward to working with the city to preserve and protect our working Waterfront, which is critical to our economic prosperity.”
The mural depicts scenes of longshoremen hauling cargo-laden nets during the height of activity on the Brooklyn waterfront. Each of its 3 x 8 foot panels contains hundreds of pieces of acrylic layered to create different hues and textures. The men are depicted hoisting sacks of coffee and crates while barrels of oil wait to be loaded on the Brooklyn docks. There is a large stack in the foreground representing the ubiquitous steam ships of the era. The intricate work also portrays the Statue of Liberty centrally framed by the Brooklyn Bridge.
“The Brooklyn success story is in no small part due to the contributions of our waterfront and the men and women who have labored on its docks and along its shores, said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “By restoring this vivid mural, we celebrate our waterfront’s colorful history and its continuing story as an international gateway to Brooklyn and the world.”
Councilmember Sara M. Gonzalez expressed her enthusiasm for the restoration of the mural, “As most of what remains of Brooklyn’s working waterfront is contained within my district, I am pleased this important work of art has been relocated here. May it forever stand in tribute to the men and women who have toiled so diligently in the past; those who continue to work here today and all those for whom we’re fighting to ensure there are more jobs in the future.”
For the past six years, the City and its maritime partners have been working to re-establish New York City as a thriving international port. At the 65th Street Rail Yard, there are two float bridges that connect the rail yard to New Jersey by barge float. In addition to the 65th Street Rail Yard, the City is exploring plans to renovate and maximize the use of rail via the 51st Street rail to move goods such as concrete and building materials, as well as flour and food products.
Port Authority Port Commerce Director Richard M. Larrabee said, “The continuing growth of the Port of New York and New Jersey would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the ILA moving cargo on a daily basis. The mural is symbolic of their efforts over the years to help this port and the accompanying economic activity and good paying jobs that it provides.”
Currently, there is significant private investment in water-related business. Lafarge, a major supplier of cement, has opened a new facility at the 25th street pier. The state-of –the-art, eco-friendly operation imports its products by water. The facility removes about 60 truck trips from area roads per day. At Pier 6, C.P. Cimento of Brazil is planning to invest approximately $25 million to rehabilitate the pier and construct a similar distribution facility. This operation will also remove about 60 truck trips daily.
“As we gather here today to honor the longshoremen who worked on Brooklyn’s docks in the past, we also look forward to a bright future for the Harbor,” said ILA Local President Louis Pernice. “To achieve that future, we need to reemphasize vocational skills as part of the public education curriculum to ensure that the youth of today and tomorrow are prepared for the jobs that will be created on the revitalized working waterfront.”
“I am very pleased to be here to capture the essence of the working waterfront and celebrate the future of the great Port of New York,” said New York Container Terminal CEO James Devine. “As we move ahead, it is always good that we look back and remember our heritage.”
At the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, the Axis Group is investing $40 million dollars in an auto processing facility. The autos will arrive and depart by water. In addition, the new Sims Recycling facility at the 29th Street Pier will process the City’s metal, glass and plastics under a contract with the City. The state-of-the-art plant will employ about 100 workers.