The Red Hook Waterfront mid to late 1880s - Erie and Atlantic Basin

Two sets of ancestors lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the late 1800s.

  1. Fritz Kettler born Freisland circa 1862 married Hannah Peters born in Norway circa 1863 most likely in Brooklyn circa 1883. The had four children: Marie (1886), Gertrude (1889), Fredrich (1891) and Henry (1894). They lived in Brooklyn where Fritz worked as a longshoreman. Around 1891 the family moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. Fritz died in 1896. The two middle children Gertrude and Frederich were placed in the Brooklyn Orphans Asylum Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn from 1896 until 1901.

  2. Johann Berend Peterman born in the Duchy of Oldenburg German in 1843 married Sophia Steuer in Germany. They had one child John born in Germany before they immigrated to the US and made their first stop Red Hook, Brooklyn. A second son, Christian was born in Red Hook in 1883. The family then moved to Hoboken, New Jersey before 1884.

Of note:
  • Christian Petermann born 1883 and Marie Kettler born 1886 and Gertrude Kettler born 1889 were delivered by the same mid wife, Matilde Ruppanner.

  • John Petermann, the son of J. Berend, was a pilot in New York Harbor. I believe he was licensed in New Jersey.
New York Harbor was a very busy place in the mid to late 1880s. Trying to take it all in is rather overwhelming. Most occupations, boats and ships were found throughout the greater harbor but I have chosen to focus on Red Hook, Brooklyn and Hoboken, New Jersey because that is where my family lived.

Hamilton Ferry

The Hamilton Avenue Ferry ran from South Ferry to Hamilton Avenue

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


The Hamilton Avenue Ferry began service in 1846 as a way to facilitate the transportation of bodies from Manhattan to Greenwood Cemetery.

In 1890 the the Union Ferry Company ferry ran

" From Hamilton av. to Whitehall st. New York. From 5 A. M. to 6 A. M. every 15 minutes; 6 A. M. to 7 P. M. every 10 minutes; 7 P. M. to 12 P. M. every 15 minutes; 12 P. M. to 5 A . M. every 30 minutes.

Brooklyn Daily eagle almanac 1890

In 1889 the Van Brunt and Erie Basis line railroad ran:
From Hamilton Ferry, through Hamilton av. to Van Brunt st, to the Erie Basin, through Elizabeth st. to Columbia St. Erie Basin Dry docks. Transfers by Brooklyn City R. r. to Fulton Ferry, passing all ferries, also by South Brooklyn Central R. R. from Hamilton Ferry through Sackett, Hoyt and Bergen Sts. to Albany av.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle almanac, 1889

Green-Wood Cemetery, A National Historic Landmark

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Atlantic Street or South Ferry

Shipping in Red Hood in the late 1800s

In the 1880s ships arrived at the Brooklyn waterfront from all over the world. They carried cotton from the American south, sugar from the West Indies, silks and teas from China, jute and hemp from South America, red wood from California, pine from Maine, paving stones from the New England states, grain from the western states and Canada.

In 1880 there were over 9,000 ships arriving in Brooklyn from foreign ports. This does NOT include the domestic arrives. In 1881 the figure had dropped to 8,000 and in 1882 even lower to 7,000 and lower still in 1883 to less than 6,000. These figures are hard to evaluate because, in fact, during this period of time the vessels had become larger and many were now under steam versus sail.

The customs inspector only reported foreign vessels so the following accounts do not factor in the number of domestic ships that arrived during the period in question.

By 1884 the Brooklyn waterfront was divided into 19 Customs Districts. Red Hook encompassed five districts: 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

  1. The 1st district extended from Hamilton Ave Bridge to Fort Hamilton and was about five miles long.

  2. The 2nd district ran from Hamilton Avenue Bridge to the foot of Columbia Street and included the Gowanus Canal. The inspector was A. D. Bennett. He reported the arrival in 1884 of 274 vessels "102 with cargoes from foreign ports, 84 which came in ballast and the remaining 124 coming to lie up. "In addition a "great deal of building materials, such as cement, laths, and lumber" was imported from Canada on "small 75 to 100 ton schooners".

    Notes: In ballast means the ship was carrying a useless load (sometimes water) in the hull instead of cargo. This helped the ship to maintain stability and balance.

    To "lie up" meant the ship was idle. Ships that were "lying up" were not earning any income while doing so.

    "Laying-up ships makes good business sense during tough times. Not only does it allow ship owners and operators to avoid non-profitable journeys and over supply, it also reduces wear and tear, crew costs, fuel consumption and insurance premiums during the idle period."

    Guidelines for Lay-Up of Ships GAC Ship Lay-Up Solutions (GLUS) Powered by Bibby Ship Management & DehuTech

  3. The 3rd District extended from Columbia to Conover streets and encompassed the Erie Basin. The inspectors were A. P. Cole and B. S. Stein. The storekeeper was M. D. More. The was over two miles of waterfront in this district. Imports included cotton, grain, sugar, nitrate of soda, salt peter and lumber.
    "The principal storehouses are those of the New York Warehousing company and of Baird (sic) & Robinson. Some of these stores have capacities for 25,000 bales of cotton 10,000 hogsheads of sugar, and 2,000,000 bushels of grain."
    A 20 acre breakwater contained a lumber yard.

  4. The 4th Distinct ran from the Marine Ship Railway* to the foot of Walcott. In 1884 177 vessels arrived in this district. They carried sugar, cotton, salt, nitrate of soda, iron and corkwood (from Spain). P. Parquot was the inspector. Mr. Edward Bennett was the Government storekeeper. This district included the Merchant and German America Stores.

  5. The 5th district included the southern half of the Atlantic Basin. It ran from Wolcott to Summit streets and included "the South, West, Central, South Central and Commercial Wharfs". Thomas Bell was the inspector and Charles C Talbot was the storekeeper. The buildings in this are were describes as "hugh three, four and five story warehouses which figuratively speaking groan under the of commodities each year hidden away in their recesses." In 1884 312 foreign vessels arrived in this district. Imports included sugar, cotton, wine, wool, oil, iron, honey, licorice, guano and rags.

    Note: Rags were an important commodity. Wool rags were recycled into woolen fabric like shoddy. See Shoddy invented by my ancestor Benjamin Law in Yorkshire, England circa 1813. Cotton rags were recycled into paper.

  6. The 6th district ran from Summit street to Hamilton Ferry and included India Wharf, North Central, East Central and North piers (essentially the upper part of the Atlantic Basin). R. Johnson and Edward Van Zant were the inspectors. In 1884 209 vessels arrived in this district "to discharge" but many others arrived to take on grain. Imports included grain, cork, cedar, mahogany sugar and cotton. The basin also accommodated over 2,000 canal boats which came down the Hudson laden with wheat, corn, barley, peas, potatoes and other vegetables. These canal boats wintered in Brooklyn.

  7. The 7th district ran from Hamilton Ferry to Baltic streets

  8. The 8th district ran from Baltic to South Ferry.

  9. The 9th district ran from So. Ferry to Joralemon streets.

  10. The 10th district ran from Joralemon t Wall Street Ferry

  11. the 11th district included Pierrpont and Mediterranean Stores

  12. The 12th district included Harbecks, Bartletts and Waston stores

The remaining districts continued north up the waterfront.

In 1885 at India Wharf steamers from the Mediterranean unloaded "cargoes of fruits, raisins and potted goods from Italy and Sapin and silks and cotton goods from Southern France". The Hamburg line ships arrived with general merchandise from Germany. African ships brought ivory, palm oil, fine woods and spices and exotic animals like baboons, an anteater, parrots and an "occasional monkey or two." (BE, Sept 14, 1885)

In 1891 the Atlantic Basin was also the scene of large immigration. On September 14, 1891 two large steamers discharged their cargo of immigrants 500 from Naples and Marseilles, and 80 from Lisbon. On March 23 1900 "nearly 2,000 Italian Immigrants reached Brooklyn ... and were transfered to the Barge Office."

Note Ellis Island opened in 1892. Before that immigrants passed through the Barge Office. see Immigration


Daily Alta California, Volume 42, Number 13953, 13 November 1887


New York's Great Reservoir Full of the World's Wealth.


A Peep Into the Mile of Warehouses That Line the Water Front of Brooklyn

How They are Filled.

N. Y. Sun.

Tho most prominent object that attracts the attention of the passenger on the Fulton, Wall, or South Ferry is the long line of warehouses that stretches along the water front of Brooklyn. Back of these warehouses rises the bluff upon which the leaders of Brooklyn society have built their residences, and to which they have given the name of Brooklyn Heights. In the mansions luxury reigns. In the storehouses commerce masses all that it can command to fill the lap of luxury.*

The piers extend out to the channel several hundred feet in front of the storehouses. These are all brick, and vary from three hundred to live hundred feet in depth. They stretch in a practically continuous line, broken only by the ferry slips, for five miles, beginning with the Empire stores, above the great bridge, and extending beyond the Erie basin. The buildings are not absolutely fireproof, but their walls are so thick that a fire cannot spread from one to the other. The ceilings are low and the ground floors are dark. Iron shutters are the rule. There are 7000 feet of them altogether. There is an appearance of great solidity about the buildings. They were evidently built to withstand the assaults of time, and to hold secure what is given them to keep. Not a particle of ornamentation is to be discerned from one end of the long line to the other. The object for which these buildings were erected is not display, but security. Here are the riches of the metropolis awaiting its order. When the ships of the merchants come in from foreign shores they unload their freight upon the piers, and it is rolled back into the deep recesses of the cavernous depths of these immense warehouses. If the merchant wants money, he takes his warehouse receipts to his bunk and puts them up as collateral. If he wishes to deliver or ship the goods, his receipt commands their production on demand, and they come forth, as the water spouts from the pipe when the faucet is turned, or the light answers to the touch of an electric button.

Great archways let in the stout Percherons with huge drays, which cart away hogsheads and crates, bags and bundles, bales and boxes, in an almost endless procession. As these carry away goods, gangs of longshoremen roll on the piers other goods that have been hauled up out of the holds of sailing vessels and steamships. From the tops of the slender masts float the flags of nearly all nations, least of all in number being the stars and stripes. The red flags with cross of St. George is most numerous. The tri-color is prominent, as is also the red, white and black of Germany. Others are the black, yellow and red of Belgium; the red, with white cross, of Denmark, the yellow, with red stripes, of Spain; the blue stripes, with yellow cross and cross in corner, of Sweden; the white, blue and red stripes of Russia, the yellow, red and blue stripes, with seven white stars on the blue, of Venezuela; the red, with yellow cross, of Switzerland, and most rare of all, the white and blue stripes, with white and blue cross, of Greece. The private flags of the owners display strange devices, some having tigers, lions, crosses, letters and the like.

The piers present a busy scene. An army of custom-house inspectors and weighers in their white caps calmly survey the scene of which they are indisputably the monarch. A glance at the labels on their caps enables one to easily distinguish them from the laborers. The latter are stalwart, with brawny arms, broad chests, bronzed fares and sturdy limbs. As they trundle the boxes, bales and bags down the pier, they dump them in little spaces chalked out for different owners. Pools of molasses and a carpet of sugar grains waste enongh sweetness on the air to tone up the flapjacks and coffee of the whole sixth ward. The weighers' assistants knock off the boxes from great chunks of what looks like sawed-off elephants' legs. It is crude rubber that has just arrived from South America, and has just scraped acquaintance with representatives of the same kind from Australia, Central America and Africa. The finest comes from Para, in 440 pound boxes. When cut into looks like canned meat.

As bags of coffee by the hundred are rolled down the piers from the ships, other bags of pungent aroma slide down with a load swish from the upper stories of the warehouses, through a long, steeply-inclined chute of canvas. This is so strong and coarse and the descent is so sharp, that a laborer who essays an easy passage finds himself in need of a new seat to his trousers at the bottom.

The deep-keel ships from Calcutta and Manila bring huge quantities of jute butts, bamboo, hemp and cutch-like tar, used in breweries. The Mediterranean line brings fruits nnd skins, the Jamaica ships bananas, the Rio do Janeiro vessels coffee and rubber, cocoa and birds [?]. Odors float about of tamarinds, cinnamon from the East Indies, cloves, allspice, vanilla beans, bananas, oranges, lemons, codfish, guano, figs, raisins, niace, tea, sugar and chocolate. Here is cochineal in cartons [?] made of skins, also indigo. Hogsheads of molasses spread over acres, and sugar in mats, boxes, and hogsheads fills warehouse after warehouse.

Men besmeared with tar stir up with huge paddles great caldrons of boiling pitch. A team of horses jogs lightly along with a load piled to a great height. It is cork with the bark on and looks like saw logs. Another truck follows with bales of codfish, and another with hides heavily covered with lime. Over a great pile of rock salt the bowsprit of a ship, rising and falling with the billowy tide, swings its flapping sail to and fro like the trunk of an elephant. In the warehouse opposite a black cat meanders over a great pile of sulphur, while a group of longshoremen play penny ante on the planks.

There is one picture that is very pretty. The importers of oranges and lemons have arranged their fruit for inspection by buyers. The boxes are piled in tiers that rise from the floor of the wharf to the top of the warehouse. The covers of the boxes have been removed and the boxes laid upon their sides. The fruit is wrapped in pink, purple, white, red and stiiped paper. Circles have been cut out from the wrappers; so that segments of the oranges and lemons contribute their bright colors to the great rainbow. It is a sight worth crossing the river to see. A great ship with bowsprit extending far over the wharf, has a sea serpent for a figurehead. Another has a dragon, one a female, another a sailor boy. Here is a general, there a goddess, here a mermaid, there a seahorse. There is an endless variety of strange devises from strange climes. Champagne is piled up in great square piles of square boxes. Wine in casks and boxes, brandy in barrels, beer in tierces and barrels, are here in quantity. Fortunes are stored in the warehouses and scattered about the immense wharf surface. One hundred and seventy-five thousand tons of sugar are stored in the warehouses. This is independent of the 20,000 tons that the Havemeyers usually have piled away in their private storehouses. Tea by the cargo goes into the building. Half a million bags of coffee are usually on hand, notwithstanding the fact that, the cargoes of the ships irom Rio Janeiro quite often are transported to their destinations in different directions without going into the warehouses at all. Goods are stored, sometimes for a month, sometimes for a year. The stock of cotton is very heavy when the crop comes in. These warehouses were established when the New York merchants stopped storing in the city. Years ago the clippers, fleet as the wind when upon the sea, rested at these piers, their fine, lines attracting admiring visitors. The Lord of the Isles, after making her magnificent day's , record of 4 440 miles, nearly, equaling first-class steamer time, brought many a cargo to the Atlantic Stores. But nowadays the sailing vessels are the exceptions.

Tramp steamers that skirt the globe, taking in a cargo of furs in Siberia, selling them in North China, loading with teas in the Flowery Kingdom, bring their black sides up to the stringpieces, and as chest after chest goes up out of the hold on the creaking tackle, reveal the deep red of the lower plates.

Of regular lines of steamship there are the United States mail line to Brazil, Ward's line to Cuba, Anchor line to Liverpool and the Mediterranean, Red "D" line to Laguayra, Venezuela, Curacoa, Maracaibo and Pernasibnco. Booth & Cross' Co's Red Cross line to Brazil, French line to Marseilles, Alexandra Havana and Mexico. Lambert & Holt line to Rio Janeiro. There are regular sailing vessel lines to the East Indies that bring cinnamon and spices, others to Central America, Madagascar, Mozambique and Africa that bring rubber, and some that bring in casks from Egypt.

If all the rock salt dumped on the piers were piled up in one great heap the cattle of a thousand hills might lick it for many a month. Sailors of all nationalities toil at the lifts, mend the sails or stroll about the docks and through the streets in search of adventures. If they desire a delicate tidbit as a relief from the salt horse or their long sea voyage, they stroll into the "Crumb," where hash above suspicion may be had for eight cents a plate, fried liver in laid down at ten cents, and toothsome cruller for the nominal sum of one penny. As they lunch they can watch the circling flight of Pinto's pigeons, which grow fat off the grains of wheat dropped by the long arms of Dow's elevators, where spouts thrust their greedy lips into the holds of canal boats, and each gulp 8000 bushels a day, pouring it into the depths of waiting ships.

The tobacco storehouses take in from 15,000 to 25,000 hogsheads of tobacco, which comes from Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, New York, Illinois and Missouri. E. B. Bartlett & Co., 19 Old slip, own the Watson, Harbeck, Roberts, Mediterranean, Baltic, Kelsey, Union, Anglo-American stores, Commercial wharf, and Central and Union elevators. The United States Warehouse company handles grain. Ward's warehouse specialty is pork. Martin and Fay handle more coffee and hides than anything else. The Columbia or Dow stores attend to grain. In the Prentice and Pierrepont store sugar is the feature.

There is over 5,000,000 square foot of storage capacity in these warehouses. How great the value ot the goods they hold we cannot be told. No records are kept at any central point, and the goods are coming and going all the while. But it is safe to say the value is up in the hundreds of millions. The value of the real estate will round up into nine figures also. Among others stores are the Pinto, Finlay, Stranahan, German American, Merchants' (owned by Bartlett, Brookman & C 0.) Beard, Empire, Hamilton, India Wharf, Waverly. The India Wharf stores are nine and eleven stories high. They were originally a sugar house.

*This describes the waterfront to the north of Red Hook.

The Atlantic Basin (Atlantic Docks)

The Atlantic Basin, built by the Atlantic Dock company, was finished 1847. This 40 acre basin provided a safe harbor for the sailing ships of the day. It could accommodate 130 squared rigged ships at one time.

The complex included 3 miles of wharf, 20 acres of warehouse storage, 9 large steam elevators for grain. The Atlantic Basin afforded a safer working environment for the off and on loading of the ships than the Manhattan side of the East River. The Hamilton Ferry gave quick access to the Custom House and Banks in Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn was part of the port of New York and had to report to the custom house in lower Manhattan.

In July 1855 a tornado hit New York causing substantial damage at the Atlantic Docks.

"The stores Nos. 58, 60, 62 and 68, across the Atlantic basin, occupied by our government, were stripped of their zinc roofing. The hoisting wheels in front of one or two of the stores were also blown away.

The boiler and machine shop of Henry Esler & Co. a short distance beyond the stores was blown down.

The door of the shop at the time was open, and the wind entered and filled the building. The air lifted the roof from the supports and it fell over the side of the boiler shop, carrying the latter with it to the ground.

Delaware State Reporter, July 20, 1855.

Several boats also sustained damage.

In 1863 two grain elevators at the Atlantic Docks burned during the Draft Riots. Many books written at the time (and just after the war) attribute the burning of the Atlantic Docks to the riots. Modern sources also list the burning of the docks to the riots. See Brooklyn in the Civil War However, The Brooklyn Eagle was less certain:

The fire occurred on the night of Wednesday the 15th of July, the third and last day of the riots in New York. Two grain elevators, a boat, the pier, a quantity of machinery, grain, etc. were destroyed. (BE)
The paper stated that the fire was the "deliberate act of incendiarism, but there is no evidence whatever to substantiate the assertion that there was a riot."

In 1880 a two alarm fire broke out at 8:30 A. M. at the Cereal Manufacturing Company's mills, Nos. 5 & 6 Atlantic Docks on August 1. The company manufactured breakfast cereal, flour and steam cooked oats. The building was "one of a long row or granite four story structures the majority of which are owned by the Atlantic Dock Company." It was believed that the fire originated in the drying room of the cereal mill. Police were called in to keep a large curious crowd at a distance. An additional tragedy occurred as an indirect result of the fire. An 11 year boy had climbed on the "rack" of the Hamilton Ferry to watch the fire. The ferry New York struck the rack knocking the boy off and he fell to his death. (NYT, Aug 2, 1880)

In the late 1800s the Atlantic Basin handled most of New Yorks grain trade - 157 million bushels in 1898. (Sea History 1979, National Maritime Historical Society)

Atlantic Basin has nine "first class" steam elevators to transfer grain from canal boats into ocean-going vessels or to its warehouses during the 1870s. Each of these elevators could unload a canal boat in three hours, and a well built Atlantic Basin warehouse could store two million bushels at one time.

Sea History 1979, National Maritime Historical Society

In 1881 the warehouses in the Atlantic Docks held: sugar, molasses, provisions, flour, lumber, stone, cotton guano, grain, saltpeter, brimstone (sulfur), salt, iron, resin and turpentine.

Warehouse in the Atlantic Basin in 1886 included: Clinton Stores, Finlay Stores, Atlantic Dock Company Stores, Franklin Stores, India Wharf Store, Strahnahan's Inspection Sotres, plus the Atlantic Flour Mills and an "oil Works".

In 1886 The Grain Warehousing Company at the Atlantic Docks included Excelsior Stores, Clinton Wharf Stores, Commercial Wharf Stores and Finlay Stores. Capacity 3,500,000 bushels with three elevators (Brooklyn Almanac, 1996)

Warehouse in the Atlantic Basin in 1890 included Commercial Wharf Stores, Clinton Wharf Stores, North Pier and Finley's Stores and South Pier and Finley's Stores (Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac 1890)

Grain elevators in the Atlantic Basin in 1890 included, Excelsior Elevator, Commercial Wharf, Elevators A and B, McCormack's Elevator, Laimbeer's Elevator and F. E. Pinto & Sons Elevator.

Steamship lines in the Atlantic Basin in 1893 included:

  1. Antwerp Line to Antwerp, sailings irregular, Cargo, passengers and general
  2. Bordeaux Line to Bordeaux, sailings irregular, cargo, passengers and general
  3. Honduras and Central American line, to Jamaica, Nicaragua, Honduras Guatemala, sailings irregular, Cargo, passengers and general
  4. New York and Porto Rico Lines, to Porto Rico sailings irregular, Cargo, passengers and general
  5. Union Direct Hamburg Lines to Hamburg, semi monthly, Passengers, porcelain, general
In 1893 The Brooklyn Eagle Almanac described the Atlantic Basin thus:
The Atlantic Basin near Hamilton ferry, and opposite Governor's Island, is unique in that there is nothing in the United States that so much resembles the great docks of London and Liverpool. While it cannot compare with the massive granite structures on the Mersey and Thames, it excels them in one way: ships can enter at any tide, whereas the English docks are only accessible at high water, and are closed at other times by gates or caissons. The Atlantic Basin, covers forty acres, and is surrounded by brick and granite warehouses on three sides. These are 100 feet in depth, and three to five stories high. The basin contains four piers, three of which are covered, and are 700, 800 and 900 feet in length by 80 feet in width. South central pier, 900 feet long, is the largest in the port. In the basin are seven elevators, six of which are controlled by the New York Grain Warehousing Company, the seventh being owned by Pinto Bros. Atlantic Basin is the largest grain depot in the world. Its frontage line of basin and piers measures three miles. South central pier is leased by the Union Hamburg and the Nicaragua and Central American lines of steamships. Barber & Co. and T. Hogan Rons control east central pier; Funch & Edye's steamships dock at the south central pier, as do the lines to Bordeaux and Oporto. At west central pier many goods from the Indies are unloaded, especially plumbago* and cocoanut (sic) oil. The entrance to the basin is 200 feet in width. North pier is much used by Italian barks. The basin has a uniformed police force of its own. The basin or dock is a monument to the energy and ability of J. S. T. Stranahan, who, in spite of his 84 years, still manages its business. It is a centre to which canal boats come laden with farm produce.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac 1893

*This was probably not the flower, but was "black lead" or graphite.

James Samuel Thomas Stranahan born April 25, 1808 moved to Brooklyn in 1844 and supervised the building of the Atlantic Docks.

The 1889 Brooklyn Eagle Almanac listed the following in the Atlantic Basin:

  1. North Pier, Pinto's Elevator
  2. India Wharf
  3. North Central Pier
  4. East Central Pier
  5. Commercial Wharf, Masters' Elevator and Franklin Stores and McCormick Stores
  6. Clinton Wharf, Laimbeer's Elevator
  7. South Central Pier
  8. West Central Pier
  9. South Pier, Excelsior Elevator

By 1901 the bulkheads of the Atlantic Basin along the Buttermilk Channel were in bad shape:

These have been neglected for years and as a consequence much of the cribwork was torn away by the action of the waves. In some places the rip rap or broken stones has been washed out almost up to the foundations of the warehouses on the North and south piers.
Work was in progress to remove the West Central pier. The new pier was to be 80 feet, 50 feet shorter than the old pier, to allow "ships a better show to warp into the South Central pier". The German American stores were also receiving some attention.

Bradley's Reminiscences of New York Harbor, 1896, openlibrary.org


ATLANTIC BASIN: 1. Pinto's Stores, 2. Norton's SS Line, 3. Miscellaneous steamship lines that have no regular place to load and discharge cargo, 4. Atlantic Sugar House, 5. Knott's Prince Steamship Line; John C Seager, general agent, 2 Stone Street, New York, 6. Earn Steamship Company, 7. D. D. Mangam & Co., feed etc., 8. Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse grain elevator, A., 9. Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse grain elevator, B., 10. Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse grain elevator, C., 11. Clinton Stores, Laimbeer Stores, 12. Central America Steamship Line, 13. New York and Nicaragua Steamship Line, 14. New York and Porto Rico Steamship Co., Miller, Ball & Knowton, agts 96 Water St. & 13 Pearl St. New York, 15. Union Direct Hamburg Steamship Line (Sloman's steamers) for Hamburg; Funchs, Edye & co. agents, Produce Exchange Annex, Floor C, New York, 16. Compagnie Nationale de Navigation a Vapeur Steamship Line for Marseilles: Funch, Edye & co. agents, 17. Bordeaux Steamship Line, Funch, Edye & Co. Agents, 18. Johnson Steamship Line for Baltimore and Tampico, Mexico, Wm Johnson & Co (limited) general agents 5, 6, 7 Produce Exchange, New York, 19. Sailing vessels, 20. Excelsior Stores 21. Powell Mfg. Co (formerly of 86 and 88 N. 4th Street, Brooklyn) office 120 Front street, New York

BETWEEN ATLANTIC AND ERIE BASIN: 22 Strannahan Tobacco Inspection, 23. Mutual Co. office 127 Produce Exchange, New York, 24. John W. McDonald's lumber yard, 25. Johnson & Hammond Naval Store Yard, 26. Johnson & Hammond Naval Store Yard, 27. Lidgerwood Mfg., 28. German American stores. 29. Merchants Stores; Hygiene Ice Factory, 30. Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse, 31. Burtis Dry dock, 32. Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse

Atlantic Basin in 2013, google map

Warehouses and Stores at the Atlantic Basin in the late 1800s

  1. Finlay (Finley) Stores

    The 1800 map shows the "Finleys" Stores at the south end of the north outer pier and the north end of the south outer pier of the Atlantic Basin. On the 1886 map the "Finley" stores were located on either side of the opening to the Atlantic basin from the Buttermilk Channel and were constructed of stone.

    In 1861 the northern most stores on the pier were labeled Wheeler and Roberts. Next to that going further south was "Excelsior Stores - Shaw, Fancher and Co.". There are the following notations on the Excelsior stores:

    "Engine & boiler rooms com by two open doorways. They are separated from the stores by brick walls with no opening, and roofed by iron beams and brick arches, with flags over on 3rd story of store. Seven floors Tin roof Com with Nos 80 & 82 by one duble iron door to each, on the 2nd and and 5th stories of stores.
    There was a wooden grain elevator.

    In October 1859 the Excelsior stores at the Atlantic Dock were owned by Messrs. Shaw, Fancher & co. and possessed "facilities for elevating and storing unequalled by any other buildings in and around New York". There were twelve buildings totaling 600 feet in length , a 800 horse powere elevator capable of lifting 4,000 bushels of grain per hour. The stores could hold 1,500,000 bushels of grain.

    In June 1881 a hugh fire broke out at the Excelsior stores and elevator. The Excelsior Stores were described as eleven "solidly constructed brick buildings" - one of five stores the rest of 4 stories, each with a dept of 100 feet and a frontage of 40 feet. The comprised Nos 70 to 92 with No 80 being the five story building. Attached to this building was the 9 story elevator. It was in this building that the fire began. One of the watchman ran six blocks from the stores to the Van Brunt Street fire station. Boats which were lying along the dock were towed to safety. Building no 80 and the elevator were lost and the firemen's efforts were centered on preventing the spread of the fire to other buildings. A great deal of grain was destroyed and the nearby stores were badly damaged by water from the fire hoses. It was a three alarm blaze with 11 engines and 2 trucks at the scene. According to the Titusville Herald the buildings were owned by the Atlantic Dock co and the machinery was owned by New York Warehouse company.

    See Excelsior stores under Clinton stores.

    On the 1861 map the Finlay stores are indicated in red=brick. However, a Brooklyn Eagle article of 1857 stated that fire proof granite buildings were being constructed on 32 lots on the Atlantic Dock piers.

    In November 1889 the Finlay Stores, granite warehouses at King Street, near the Hamilton Ferry, belonging to the Commercial Warehouse Co., were sold at auction to satisfy creditors. There were sixteen warehouses in thirty-two lots of land. There were eight warehouses on the north peri and eight on the south pier. In 1895 the Finlay stores had 400 feet of frontage on both the North and South Piers . In 1895 and 1897 the stores on the south pier were listed with a 400 feet frontage and an iron elevator; the north pier stores had the same frontage but no elevator was mentioned.

  2. Clinton Stores

    On the 1880 map the warehouse later labeled Clinton were designated as such:

    • The southern end of the outer pier shows a brick building called Excelsior Stores.

    • A large brick structure on the south side of the dock is called Laimbeers Stores.

    • A large building between Clinton Wharf andKing street and between ferris and Commerce is called Clinton Stores

    On the 1886 map the Clinton stores were located all along the south end of the basin in the spaces indicate in the 1880 map as including, Laimbeer, Excelsior and Clinton stores.

    Atlases of New York city. Insurance maps of New York. Brooklyn Atlas 63. Vol. 1, 1886 labels the Laimbeer warehouse "The Grain Ware Housing co." and shows two grain elevators and notes that the boiler and engine rooms extent to the 3rd floor "no floors intervening - ceiling; iron girders & brick arches .

    The Clinton stores were shown on the 1861 Insurance Map bounded by King, Conover and the wharf. The building was brick with two wooden structors on the dock - One marked elevator.

    Richard H Laimbeer was born in New York in 1825. He moved to Brooklyn in 1849. He was in the storage business from 1845. In 1848 he moved his business to the Atlantic Basin "where he remained until 1863" when he moved to the Clinton Store. He stayed there until 1868. In 1872 the Grain Warehouse company was organized. It assumed the organization of Laimbeer and Co. Richard H. Laimbeer died in 1900

    Laimbeer stores were mentioned in various documents in 1872 and 1873,

    "William B Barber

    come on 2nd floor by double iron doors in 16" walls.

    Tin roof, metal gutters, coped walls, iron doors and shutters.

  3. Atlantic Dock Company

    On the 1886 map the Atlantic Dock company stores were located at the northern end of the piers that bordered the Buttermilk Channel and at the southern end of the piers that formed the eastern boundary of the basin.

    Atlases of New York city, Insurance maps of New York, Brooklyn Atlas 63. Vol. 1, 1886 shows a structure Between William, Verona and Imlay at the "Commercial wharf" and labeled it "being built". "Building Improvements" permission was granted to Atlantic Dock company to build nine four story brick warehouses 51x180 feet each on the block bounded by Comercial Wharf, Imlay, William and Verona, (Brooklyn Eagle Friday, May 14, 1886 Page: 6) Note: This does not mean that they actually were build. However, the 1898-1899 map does show a brick structure in this space.

    In 1895 the American Dock company had 200 feet of frontage.

  4. Franklin Stores

    On the 1886 map the Franklin Stores were located between Verona and Commerce streets on the piers that formed the eastern boundary of the basin.

  5. Commercial Stores

    On the 1886 map the Commercial Stores were located between Commerce and Bowne streets on the piers that formed the eastern boundary of the basin.

  6. Unnamed stores between Bowne and Summit

    The 1861 Insurance Map shows four brick structures more or less in the middle of the block between Bowne and Summet, Imlay and the Atlantic Basin. They are marked "A. E. Masters" The hand written notations indicated that the buildings were 5 stories high, had double iron doors. 20 inche thick walls on the first three floors and 16 inche walls on the top two floors separated the building into sections. There were two wooden structures on the wharf side one labeled "elevator". The engine and boiler room was separated from the stores by thick brick walls.

    This block of buildings is simply labeled "store houses" on the 1886 map. In November 1885 it was noted in a Brooklyn Eagle article about construction and new buildings in Brooklyn "On the corner of Imaly and Bowne streets a brick addition is being built to Shaw's warehouses to accommodate the engine - 50x10 and five stories high." This is the only reference to Shaw's warehouse.

  7. Pinto Stores

    1864: October 29, An auction was held at the Pinto stores on October 22, 1864. It included cotton and terpentine"captured by the steamer Clyde", the U. S. Schooner Fox, the U. s. Schooner sagamore, the cargo ship Last Resort, the U. S. Steamship Magnolia and the U. S Schooner Ariel. This sounds like Civil War booty.

    1873: August 5, Brig Bessie, British, Capt. Hackett, 218 tons from Cardenas [Cuba], with sugar to the Pinto stores, Atlantic docks.1873: August 23, The Schooner King Bird, Br. Capt Simpson form Caibarien [Cuba], with sugar and molasses at Pinto stores

    1873: September 30, arrivals Schr. Ralph Carlton (Amer.) Patan master, form Caibarien, with sugar at Pinto's Stores

    1875 Frank Monday tried to steal two canvas covers valued at $1 from one of the lighter docked at Pintos store. He received 29 days in jail.

    1877: August 13, An attempt was made to steal sugar from the Pinto stores by a "boy".

    1878: The English bark, David Taylor, was anchored at the Pinto stores with a valuable cargo of prepared lard when river thieves tried to make off with several firkins* of lard. * A small cask to hold liquids or semi liquids.

    1886: The Pinto stores were not labeled on the 1886 map.

    1887: In January there was a strike of dockworkers. It was started by coal handlers and joined by the longshoremen. Work in Red Hook cam almost to a standstill. However, Mr. Pinto of Pinto stores succeeded in hiring 30 or 40 "Italians" from the "streets of New York". Pinto stores were running two grain elevators loading the steamer Cartagena with grain. Pinto denied any animosity between the striking union men and the Italians. However, one Italian was reported arrested for wearing "a knife which was so long that he could not conceal it."

    "I am sure I don't know what the strikers want any way, they were getting work and good wages and tell me that they have no grievances."

    So said Mr. Pinto.

    1895: In 1895 The Pinto stores was listed with 490 feet of frontage.

    1891: September 25, The steamship Barraglough sailed from the Pinto store with a full cargo of grain. 1892: January 4, A four story frame elevator in the rear of Pinto's warehouse was totally destroyed by fire. The high winds not only flamed the fire but threatened the India Wharf Brewery which was directly across the basin. "Showers of sparks were flying in every direction and threatened the many stores and dwellings in the neighborhood." (The World). The flames also spread to store No. 14 where the roof momentarily caught fire. The fire, whose origin was not known, started in the second story of the elevator. The elevator was used to hoist grain from vessels along the dock and then shoot it into store No. 14 in the back of the elevator. The building and the hoisting machinery were a total loss estimated at about $60,000. William D Pinto of the firm of Francis G. Pinto & sons said the building was totally covered by insurance. The grain in store No 14 was damaged by smoke and water at an estimated loss of $40,000. The fire was so impressive that it drew large crowds:

    "The conflagration made a picture that attracted crowds. The tall warehouses buildings were thrown out in bold relief against the dark background of sky, while the masts, rigging and spars of the many vessels docked nearby showed distinctly against the flames. People coming from New York by Hamilton ferry boats experienced great difficulty in elbowing their way through the throngs of spectators, and travel by horse-car was delayed for some time."
    The fire boat Seth Low was on the scene. 1896: The Atlantic Storage Company had its offices at the Pinto Stores.

    1901: The "store keper" at the Atlantic Docks had his office at the northern end of the basin at Pinto stores.

    1901: September 24, the steamship Warfield was seized by a U. S. Marshal on libel for $5,000 damages in personal injuries to Martin J. Garvey.

    1902: Workmen began dismantling the old stone warehouses including Pinto stores on the North Pier at Atlantic Docks in March 1902.

    Mr. Krekeler of the firm of Thomas Krekeler Company had a new method for razing the 100 buildings of stone and brick which were substantially build and bolted together their mortar hardened by the years. The side walls were about 80 feet long and four stories high and about 24 inches at the base to 20 inches at the top. The first step was to tear off the roof and remove the pine beams - reportedly a comparatively easy task. Rather than go at the gigantic walls with picks and crowbars teams of 15 men used the large pine beams as leavers to "throw" the walls to the earth. It took a half and hour to prepare for the "tumble". The beams which were as long as the wall was tall were raised agains the wall and securely braced. When the beam was in place a men with crowbars climbed to the top and start to pry the beams. At a signal from the forman that the wall is about to go the men scramble down the beam "to a place of safety". "The wall falls with a crash". The process took about five minutes. "To the inexperienced the work seems extremely dangerous for the men who are engaged." But Mr. Krekeler said there was no danger to the men and claimed that since the work began no one had been hurt .


    Francis E Pinto was a a first Lieutenant of Co. D, First New York Volunteers in the Mexican War. He was a hero at Chapultepec. He was later made General for his service in the Civil War.

    1888: June 23, Francis E Pinto, owner of the Pinto stores, was arrested and charged with compelling the payment of 1 cent a bushel storage on grain taken from the steamer Olinda, a violation of the law which fixed the rate at five-eights a cant per bushel. The warehousemen fought the law but lost. The arrest was to bring a test suit to see if the law could be declared unconstitutional. Pinto pleaded guilty.

    1889: The Gain Elevator Law, it was held in the appeals court in Albany that grain elevators were private property and boatmen did not have to patronized them unless they wanted to.

    1900: 105 State Street, Francis E Pinto 76, born, Connecticut, no occupation, Gertrude C Pinto 49, New York, Francis E Pinto 42, New York, soap manufacturer, Emily Clifford 20, servant, born Ireland

    1905: July 18 General Frances E. Pinto died at age 83 at his home 103 State street in

    Frances E Pinto

    Francis E Pinto

    1870: Francis E Pinto 45, storage, $50,000, $50,000, Jessie Pinto 40, born England, Lauretta Pinto 16, born California, Jessie Pinto 14, born New York, Francis Pinto 12, born New York, William Pinto 9, born New York, Mary Masa 30, servant, Bessie Longden 25, servant.

    Children: His son Francis E Pinto Junior was born in 1857 remained single and died in 1951. A daughter, Lauretta, married John Laimbeer and died in 1917 at age 92. A daughter, Jessie, married Arthur Hart. William A. Pinto born circa 1861 was married and living in Plainfield New Jersey with his wife and son, Effingham E. Pinto, in 1910. Effingham born circa 1888 was listed with his mother, single, in Plainfield in 1940.

    Effingham Pinto was a Broadway actor and later a landscape architect. See Effingham Pinto impersonating the Triumphant spirit of France

Atlantic Basin Warehouses in General


In the warehouses of the Atlantic Dock Company, and others S. therefrom to Red Hook Point, there is stored — grain, $20,000,000; sugar and molasses, $15,000,000; provisions, $2,200,000; flour, $1,000,000; lumber and stone, $1,200,000; cotton, $1,500,000; guano, $1,500,0)10; rags, $500,000; saltuetre and brimstone,$100,000; salt,$500,000; iron, $2,000,000; miscellaneous, including resin, turpentine, etc., $4,000,000; total, $50,000,000"

Johnson's New Universal Cyclopaedia: A-E, 1877

In April 1902 nearly all the stone warehouses on the north and south pier of the Atlantic dock were torn down to make room for steel steamship piers.
"Two of Laimbeer's stores on Clinton Wharf have been razed also to allow the dock railroad to pass to Stranahan's stores south of Laimbeer's stores"
The Clinton wharf "is being widened 20 feet."

(Brooklyn Eagle Thursday, April 10, 1902)

A History of the City of Brooklyn by Henry R Stiles, 1870

The Atlantic Basin c 1870

The street on the left of the image is Hamilton Avenue. The small tower-like buildings inside the basin represent the grain elevators.

The Atlantic Basin is now the home of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

In July 2010 Carolina Salguero wrote to inform me that the Atlantic Basin is currently about half of its former size. Originally the Basin went from the Buttermilk canal to "to the RR sidings below the Imlay St NY Dock buildings".

Atlantic Basin 1878, Old Brooklyn in Early Photographs William Lee Younger, Long Island Historical Society, 1978

Atlantic Basin, 1851
New York City Public Library, 1851, Gleasons Pictorial ID80070

Appleton's Journal, Saturday April 1, 1871, Scene at the Atlantic Docks Brooklyn

Grain Elevator

Pictorial History of Brooklyn, 1916.

Atlantic Basin, Laid Up for the Winter, 1873

See canal boats below.

New York City Public Library, ID800704D G91F172_035F

Atlantic Basin
New York City Public Library, Stereo Card, ID G91F172_035F

Brooklyn Musuem, George Bradford Brainerd, American 1845-1887, 1872-1887, January 2012

Brooklyn Musuem, George Bradford Brainerd, American 1845-1887, 1872-1887, January 2012

Brooklyn Musuem, George Bradford Brainerd, American 1845-1887, 1872-1887, January 2012

Brooklyn Museum, George Bradford Brainerd, American 1845-1887, 1872-1887, January 2012

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013


Atlantic Basin, 2007
Photo Maggie Land Blanck, 2007

This image was taken from one the cruise liners that now dock outside the basin. The original basin included the area that is now covered by the grey sheds with the blue doors.

Atlantic Basin, 2007
Photo Maggie Land Blanck, 2007

The Erie Basin

Bradley's Reminiscences of New York Harbor, 1896, openlibrary.org

Erie Basin in 2013, google map

Erie Basin: 1. Beard's Stores, 2. Anglo-American Stores, 3. Erie Dry docks, John N Robbins and Co, 4. Timber Basin, 5. Hilton & Dodge Lumber Co.6. Towsend & Downey sparmakers, 7. Brooklyn Balance Dock, 8. & 9. Wm Gokey and Son's Dry Dock, 10. Thomas A. Crane's sons, Dry Dock


In 1886 the J. P. and J. C. Robinson Grain Stores were located in the Erie Basin at the foot of Van Brunt Street. Capacity 1,500,000 bushels and two elevators. (Brooklyn Almanac 1886)

Erie Basin: Beard's Grain Elevator Elevator and Beard's Warehouse, Handren & Robbins (Robins) Boston Dry docks, Townshend & Edgett's Provncial Dry Dorks, New York Balance Dry Dock Co. (Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac 1890)

The New York Warehouse built in 1869 was shown on the 1886 map of Ward 12 on the water front between Conover and Van Brunt. This is currently the home of Fairway the supermarket.

In 1889 The Brooklyn eagle Almanac listed the following in the Eire Basin :

  1. Erie Basin Breakwater

  2. Long Dock

  3. Provincial Dry Dock, Pier 2 Erie Basin

  4. Pier 2 Erie Basin

  5. Pier 4 Erie Basin

  6. Endner's Spar Yard

  7. Erie Basin Dry Docks and Ship Yard

  8. Anglo-American Stores Richards street

  9. Beard's Stores and Elevator. Van Brunt street

  10. New York Warehousing Company

  11. Burtis' Ship Yard

  12. Merchant's Stores, Van Dyke street

  13. German-American Stores

  14. Johnson & Hammond's Rosin Yard
  15. Mutual Co.'s Lumber Yard
  16. Stranahan's Tobacco Inspection
Most of these businesses are covered in other sections of this web site.

Leslie's History of Greater New York Vol II Brooklyn (not dated, circa 1898)

Yachts in Winter Quarters Erie Basin

Leslie's History of Greater New York Vol II Brooklyn (not dated, circa 1898)

Yachts Laid Up at Erie Basin - View on the Pier

Erie Basin Dry Docks

William Bear and Jeremiah P. Robinson were the men behind the building of the Erie Basin Dry docks. Two large dry docks located near the foot of Otsego st and along Elizabeth Street were originally built by a Boston company, but was not successful. Financial loses caused the property to be sold at auction. It was renamed the Anglo American Dry Dock and Warehouse company. Extensive improvements were made.

In 1888 the two docks of the Anglo American Dry Dock company were describes as 500 feet and 600 feet in length with a depth of about 30 feet. They were capable of receiving the largest steamships that arrived in the New York Harbor. Sometimes four ships were docked at the same time. A ship was floated in, gates were closed and the docks were pumped dry. In 1888 the docks were called the Anglo American Docks and the following work was done there in October of that year:

  1. "Work has never been brisker around Handren and Robbins iron works and the Anglo American Dry Docks than during the past few weeks. The transformation of the State of Alabama into the Riker dredger entailed the expenditure of some $50,000 in this dry dock and much of this went to the machinists, iron workers and ship builders in the vicinity of Red Hook."
  2. The steamship Nevada of the Guion Line had her propeller blade repaired.
  3. The steamship Regulator, which had been destroyed by fire, was converted into a a coal barge.
In March 1889 the steamship Kimberley was in the docks for evaluation. The French steamer Cachemireof Marseilles was in the second dock having lost her stern post and rudder. And two yachts, the steam yacht Atlanta and the old schooner yacht Alarm were also in the docks.

In January 1893 after the ice had thawed the docks got busy again:

  1. A Standard Oil tank barge was in one of the smaller docks
  2. The Portuguese steamship Oeveuum was being scrapped and painted.
  3. William K Vanderbilt's steam yacht was being fitted out for a Southern cruise.

In February 1893 the Red Star steamship Westernland of Antwerp was dry docked at the Anglo American Docks to have her propeller repaired after a rough Atlantic crossing.

In March 1893 there were about 500 men working at the Anglo American docks.

Inauguration of the Erie Basin Dry Dock October 1866
The Nautical Gazette, July 1919, February 2012

Ocean Steamships: A Popular Account of Their Construction, Development, Management and Appliances (Google eBook), French Ensor Chadwick, Albert Edward Seaton, William Henry Rideing, John H. Gould, James Douglas Jerrold Kelley, Ridgely Hunt, C. Scribner's Sons, 1891

The North German Lloyd Steamer Havel at Handren & Robbins Erie Basin Dry Docks, Brooklyn.

A fast screw steamer, the Havel weighted 6,963 tons with 11,500 horse power.

Johnson, John S. Detroit Publishing Co 1895, Aug 24. Library of Congress

The Yacht Valkyrie II America's Cup Racer in the Erie Basin Dry Dock

Erie Basin Dry Dock 1919
The Nautical Gazette, July 1919, February 2012

Erie Basin and Gowanus Canal

Brooklyn Eagle Post Card, Series 72, No 428

The Erie Basin is on the south side of Red Hook

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Theo. A. Crane and Sons

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Theo. A. Crane's Sons Co., Brooklyn Floating Docks and Shipyard, Breakwater Gap, Erie Basin, 1905 Invoice
"Sufficient depth of water to haul at any stage of tide.

First-class facilities for repairing Yachts, Steamers, Steamboats and Sailing Vessels.

Particular attention to building Railroad-Car Floats, Tugboats, Barges, Etc.

Saw-Mill, Machine, and Blacksmith Shop, and Floating Derrick for handling Propeller Wheels"

Theo. A Crane's Sons company

" The shipbuilding and repair business conducted under the corporate name of Theo. A. Crane's sons Company in Erie Basin is the outgrowth of a business established by the late Theo A Crane more than half a century ago. The founder of the business was born in Newark, N. J., but came with his parents to Brooklyn, when he was a child, and was educated in schools there.
During the Civil War he worked at the shipbuilding yard of Devine Brutus in Brooklyn. In 1867 he established his own yard first at 16th street and later at 26th Street. He bought the yard in the Erie Basin from G. H. Ferris.

Theodore Crane died in 1891 and his sons Edward and Alfred continued the business. Edward died in 1899 of typhoid fever. Alfred continued in sole control until the business was incorporated in 1901.

America's maritime progress,1920, By George Weiss, J. W. Leonard

In 1893 the Crane company was known for the building of railroad transportation barges.

The Robins Dry Dock and Repair Company

In May 1900 the steamship Kelvindale arrived in the Robins "yard". She had scrapped her bottom while passing through the Straits of Magellan "bound from Iquique to New York" with a load of nitrate of soda. About 8,000 bags of nitrate washed out though a hole in the bottom of the vessel. She was originally "surveyed" at the Fletcher Dry dock in Hoboken.

Note: "Sodium nitrate may be used as a constituent of fertilizers, pyrotechnics and smoke bombs, glass and pottery enamels, as a food preservative and a solid rocket propellant." Wikipedia

1902: Theodore A Crane's Sons' new sectional dry dock was opened in 1902 at the Erie Basin. It was located in the firm's ship yard in the angle of the breakwater opposites Staten Island. I was to be tested by the 3,800 ton vessel Hillglen arriving from the East.

The new docks consisted of "four sections, 90 feet in length, 60 feet wide on the floor with hulls 14 feet deep". there were sixteen 14 inch pumps in each section. A total of 128 pumps were capable of clearing the hulls of water in twenty minutes. The structure was designed and built by Alfred M Crane, the eldest of the Crane Brothers who were all "quite young men". The company had contracted with the Ward Line to build three lighters for service in Cuba.

Ira S. Bushey and Sons, Inc.

Robins Dry Dock 1916, Pictorial History of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Eagle 1916

Ad for the Robins Dry dock


It boasted a New 100 by 335 feet Machine Shop, 320 horsepower Air Compressor, 40 fire steel forge, Dry Dock "capable of taking a big steamer out of the water in twenty minutes" and a Carpenter's Shop

Canal Boats on the Brooklyn Water Front

Canal boats plied their way between the Erie Canal and the New York Waterfront. From the New York docks they were towed in fleets by tug or steamer to Albany. From Albany to Buffalo and back they were towed singly along the Erie Canal by horses or mules. Each boat need a troop of six horses or mules to tow the barge the 350 miles from Buffalo to Troy (up the river from Albany). The animals were kept in the forward section of the boat.

From Albany back to New York they were again towed in fleets. Each boat could make about 5 round trips from New York to Buffalo during the season. The canal froze in the winter. So as winter approached the canal boats made their last trip south for the season leaving their horses or mules in Troy or Albany. A tow from Troy to New York cost $32 in 1911. The upriver trip was cheaper at $22. Why? Many canal boatmen and their families spent the winter tied up in the Erie basins in Brooklyn. In 1911 the Erie basin was home to the largest colony of these boatmen - about 260 boats. The boatmen and their families were generally self sufficient. Minor purchases were made at the Long Dock from the a ships chandlery business and a "general store". There was little need to frequent the shops on Van Brunt street. While in port the children attended the Red Hook schools - Visitation Parochial and the public school at the corner of Wolcott and Conover.

The season usually opened in April.

At one time there had been about 2,500 boats on the Erie canal, but by 1911 the numbers had dwindled to about 450. They transported produce of all types but especially moved grain.

The Erie Canal between Albany and Buffalo was 363 miles. It was about another 145 miles from Albany to Brooklyn. The average rate of towage along the canal was about 4 miles per hour. Canal boats took from ten to twelve days to make the trip. It took thirty five or forty hours for the trip down from Albany to Brooklyn.

A canal boat was about 18 feet wide and 98 feet long.

A large tow from Albany in the fall of 1880 consisted of 103 boats stretched out over nearly half a mile. On their last trip south for the winter canal boatmen frequently carried some produce that could be sold through the winter, such as apples or potatoes. In 1874 a choice of Oneida County potatoes included: Early Rose, Peach Blows, Peerless, Jackson Whites for sale on the Middle pier Atlantic dock.

Title: An Albany tow coming down North River Related Names: Detroit Publishing Co. , publisher Date Created/Published: [ca. 1900] Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 8 x 10 in. Reproduction Number: LC-D4-13908 (b&w glass neg.) Call Number: LC-D4-13908 [P&P] Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, 2013

Tug towing canal boats and barges on the "North River" circa 1900

Smaller tugs collected the canal boats into a line then larger river stugs step in take the tow around the battery and all the way to Albany or reverse.

Grain was a major product transported by canal boat. In 1880 69,000,000 bushels of grain came through the Erie Canal and down the Hudson to New York City.

The Grain Commerce of New York, publication unknown, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013


On side of building "New York Central and Hudson River R. R. Co. Grain Elevator". The paddle wheal steamer is called the Carlisle. The grain elevator of the NY Central and Hudson line was opened at 12th ave and 16 st. in 1876. New York Times

Publication and date unknown, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013


Harper's Weekly, February 16, 1884, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013


Although this was on the East River in Manhattan the look would have been similar in Brooklyn.

Postcard collection of Maggie Lad Blanck

Canal boats tied up at the Erie Basin Buffalo, New York - posted 1901.

Grain Elevators

Harper's Weekly, May 20, 1871, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013


The Pinto stores are on the right.

According to the article that accompanied the above image, the floating elevators were steam driven. In New York city in 1871 there were more than nineteen floating elevators with an average capacity of 3,000 bushels per hour. The floating elevators moved around the harbor transferring grain from canal boats to ocean going steamers and sailing vessels at their anchorage. In one instance 40,000 bushels of grain "were put, after six o'clock in the evening, into a steamer that was ready to sail the next day at noon." In 1871 there were sixteen stationary elevators or warehouses in New York Harbor, with a working capacity of 40,000 bushels per hour. The above engraving is a view of one of the warehouse elevators at the Atlantic Docks.

Harper's Weekly, October 9, 1897, collection Maggie Land Blank, May 2013


The American Magazine, Frank Leslie's Monthly, Volume 21, 1886 collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013


The accompanying article listed some of the produce received in the Brooklyn fruit warehouses. Among the fruit received from overseas were dried and cured fruit: raisins (London, layer, Muscatel, Valencia, & Sultana), prunes, currants, dates, figs, almonds, filberts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, olives preserved peaches, oranges, pears, cherries, figs, nuts, plums, apricots, syrup in the natural juice and in brandy; French peas-petits pois, artichokes, cepes, mushrooms, macedoines (mixed vegetables or fruits) haricots verts (French string-beans), flageolets (small Lima beans) truffles, olive oil, capers, anchovies and sardines. Also fresh fruit: pineapples, lemons, oranges, limes, shaddocks, tangerines, mangos, plantains coconuts, bananas, star apples, custard apples, prickly pears, guavas, sapodillas, tamarinds, pomegranates, avocado pears, pawpaws, and breadfruit.

In the middle background the grain elevators at the Atlantic dock rise above the other buildings.

Notice the ships are powered by both steam and sail. The steam stack is in the center of the boats and the sails are located at either end. Steam was much more expensive then wind power. These boats sailed as much as possible and used steam when wind would not move them forward.

Munsey Magazine, December 1900, collection Maggie Land Blank, May 2013


Loading Grain from a Floating Elevator - Ocean steamships; a popular account of their construction - google book.

The grain elevator is getting in position. It is followed by the canal boat which holds the grain. The next image shows the elevator in operation.

Harper's New Monthly Magazine September 1877, collection Maggie Land Blank, May 2013


The grain was taken from a canal boat or lighter, transfered to the grain elevator, and then transfered to the ship (and vise versa).


Lighters were boats that carried merchandise from here to there in the harbor or from a ocean going vessel to the dock (an vice versa).

The lighterman's day was long. His work was fatiguing. His hours were uncertain. His day was spent helping others move cargo from ship to shore - heavy casks, bales, barrels, hogsheads. If he had cargo on board the lighterman had to spent the night on his boat to guard it. He slept in a small cabin on board.

Lighter, New York Harbor. The March of Commerce. From a photograph, courtesy of the New York Lighterage Co. Digital ID: 92556 Record ID: 50685 Digital Item Published: 7-19-2004; updated 3-25-2011 (NYPL)

The lighters are the two boats on the right.

Frank Leslie June 1881, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

Cotton Lighter

Tugs on the Brooklyn Water Front

The tug boat was the work horse of the harbor crafts.

Tugs came in a variety of sizes and strengths.

The Atlantic Basin was the home of several tug boat crews. In addition to towing the barges up and down the North River, tugs brought the ocean liners into and out of port. The tug crews would get a notice by telegram that a boat had arrived near Sandy Hook. The crews would jump on their boats and race to the incoming steam boat and fight to see who would get the tow.

Tugs also pulled vessels free that had run aground and towed picnic barrges to a park or riverside grove.
Frank Leslie's Magazine, June 1883, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

The Tow Office

Munsey Magazine November 1900, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

While commonly called tug boats, these vessels actually both tow and push.

Munsey Magazine November 1900, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

The Start of an Ocean Voyage - The American Liner St. Paul Pushing Out Into the Stream

Harbor tugs frequently towed ocean liners from the "Hook" through the Verrazano Narrows and into New York Harbor.

Munsey Magazine November 1900, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

A Typical Ocean Going Tug - "Built Not So Much To Look Upon As For Hard Work And A Great Deal Of It"

This tug was capable of going out into the Atlantic.

Munsey Magazine November 1900, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

New York Harbor In winter - A tug Towing a Railroad float Through The Ice Off The Battery

The Tug R. J. Moran

The 1895 the R. J. Moran and the John T. Williams were found at fault for insufficient attention which resulted in a collision between the Willams and a garbage scow in tow by the Moran.

The R. J. Moran was part of the fleet celebrating the Washington Centennial in New York Harbor on April 29, May 1 1899.

In November 1900 the tug R. J. Moran was described in Munsey Magazine a "a small high pressure tug of about a hundred tons displacement." On a freezing stormy February night she was ordered to Sandy Hook to assisted a stranded Atlantic ocean liner. A north west gale was blowing and the tugs metal and wood work were completely sheathed in ice. She had been wildly tossed and turned by the time she arrived at the light house at Sandy Hook. The crew searched in vain for the liner which had already "gone to sea". As the tug pitched and tossed the stove was upset and red hot coals fell out upon the floor. A fire immediately ensued. The captain turned the boat before the wind to keep the draft from the flames. With his coat tails on fire he held the boat until the fire was doused. (Munsey Magazine, November 1900)

On April 16, 1907

About 3.30 p. m., towboats R. J. Moran and Transfer No. 5 collided in the East River off Astoria ferry slip, causing slight damage. Both tugs had tows. No one hurt.

United States Congressional serial set, Issue 5125

Mystic Seaport, Title: Tugboat R.J. MORAN sunk in ice Accession Number: 1964.660.1763 Category: PHOTOGRAPHS - GLASS NEGATIVES Type: gelatin glass negative Maker: Chapman Derrick & Wrecking Co. Description: Gelatin glass negative of Merritt & Chapman Derrick & Wrecking Co.; neg. #5789; tugboat R. J. MORAN sunk in ice; see 1964.660.1764-1765.

Moran Towing was founded by in 1860 by Red Hook resident Michael Moran. See Moran

Water Boat


Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Frank Leslie Magazine, June 1883, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

Water boats suppled fresh drinking water to ships and islands without a water source.

The water boat took on fresh water at a spring and transported it in casks or in a tank in its hold. The water was pumped by hand or by steam.

Frequently these water boats were converted from old tugs whose finer days had passed.

Police and Fire Boats

Frank Leslie June 1881, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

Police Boat

Munsey Magazine November 1900, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

The Fire boat New Yorker, "Bluff Bowed, Squat and Determined; But what she lacks in beauty she makes up in strength"

Fire boats fought fires on the shoreline and on boats. The earliest fireboats were converted tugs fitted with pumps and nozzles. They have an unlimited supply of water since they pump the water out of the harbor.

To see the New Yorker in action go to You Tube, Fireboat ''New Yorker''

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck, May 2013

Fire Boat in Action, New York

Harper's Weekly November 11, 1882, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, July 2013

Pilot Boats

A ship coming into or out of a harbor could have difficulty if the captain did not know the tides, channels, shifting shoals, boat congestion and other potential hazards. A pilot was a mariner who know his harbor well. Aided by tugs he would lead the ship into and thru the harbor to its berth or lead a ship out safely to open waters.

A harbor pilot did not actually take command of the ship he was guiding but was completely responsible for seeing her safely into and out of port.

In sailing ship days the pilot boats stayed close to the harbor. By 1870 pilot boat competition had become agressive and the boats were going hundreds of miles out to sea along the shipping lanes in search of clients. Pilot boats carried several pilots. When a ship in need of a pilot was sighted a pilot transferred from the pilot boat to the ship leaving one less pilot on the pilot boat. When no pilots remained onboard, the boat returned to port. U. S. vessels were not required to use a pilot but international vessels were.

After a pilot helped a ship to leave the harbor he was left off at a station boat to be picked up by his own boat. The station boat was a pilot boat which took its turn near Sandy Hook.

"There is always a pilot-boat cruising in sight of Sandy Hook (changed every four days), the duties of which are to relieve pilots from vessels outward-bound, and to take pilots to vessels desiring to enter the harbor, that have escaped the searching vision of those on the lookout far at sea."

(Literature, Science and Art, 1870)

While sailing in the sea lanes on the lookout for incoming vessels, especially during inclement or foggy weather, the pilot boat was often hard to see. This presented the danger of a steamer (or other ship) crashing into the pilot boat. There are numerous incidents of ships hitting pilot boats. The transfer of the pilot to ship was frequently a dangerous endeavor.


A pilot-boat, at night, by her flash light, was seen from a steamer at a distance of several miles, and the officer of the steamer saw her movements, and saw that her course was such as would cross the course of the steamer. The pilot-boat came to a position nearly ahead of the steamer, and lowered a boat, with a lantern on board, to take a pilot to the steamer. This was seen from the steamer. The pilot-boat was crossing from starboard to port of the steamer and kept her course. The pilot-boat showed no mast head light. The steamer did not stop, but starboarded, and collided with the pilot-boat:


  1. That the collision was not due to the want of a masthead light on the pilot-boat;
  2. That the steamer was in fault in starboarding, and in not stopping to receive the pilot;
  3. That, it being shown to be custom, it was not, a fault in the pilotboat to put herself into the path of the steamer, and there lower her yawl, to put a pilot on board of the steamer.
The City of Washington, 487

(Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Court of the United ... By United States. Circuit Court (2nd Circuit), Elijah Paine, Samuel Blatchford)


"At a little past 12 o'clock on the night of December 2, 1883, when the steam-ship Alaska, bound for New York, was about 12 miles S. S. E. from Fire Island light, the pilot-boat Columbia, in preparing to put a pilot on the Alaska in answer to her signal, was run down and sunk, and all on board perished".

(The Federal Reporter: With Key-number Annotations ..., Volume 27)

The ships were out in all weather: gales, storms, snow, ice, and summer calms.

In 1870 the pilot boats were expensive, beautifully crafted, yachts from fifty to seventy feet in length.

In 1881 there were twenty eight licensed pilot boats in New York Harbor - not including New Jersey pilot boats. The pilot boat Caprice, ninety-six feet long and 20 feet in the beam, carried six pilots and a crew of four seamen, a cook, a cabin boy and a boat keeper. The boat keeper took the boat back to port after all the pilots had gone aboard vessels they were directing into port.

After eight rough days at sea the Caprice was 450 miles east of New York on the edge of Saint George's Bank having put only one pilot aboard an incoming vessel. In the next few days they sighted several steamers but all already had a pilot aboard. After twelve days at sea they still had only put one pilot on a ship.

In 1893 New York City had twenty one Pilot boats - New Jersey had eight. New York Pilot Boat No. 13 was a trim stout rigged schooner ready for all weather. The boat carried six pilots and a crew of five. The pilots owned the boat and employed the crew which included a steward. The boats were not build for speed but for service and stayed out in good weather and bad. The boats would go out either on an eastern run along the shipping lanes, sometimes 500 to 700 miles or on a southernly run down along the cost of New Jersey. The run out was usually a week long but depending on the number of incoming vessels could be up to a month or two. Taking a vessel in was done by a rotation of the pilots. When the first ship was met pilot number 1 took her in. Pilot number 2 took the second vessel. The fee depended on the size of the ship. Some large liners could pay $250 and a small vessel might only pay $25. It all evened out in the end. The rotation continued so that the first pilot off one trip was the last pilot off the next trip. The pilot was transfer from the pilot boat to the vessel to be piloted by yawls - a short, broad, deep and very buoyant small craft. One of the pilots most dangerous tasks was to board an ocean steamer in "heavy" weather.

There was one cabin for the pilots and one for the crew. Several months supply of food and water for the eleven men was stowed on board as the ship prepared to take her turn for a week or a months duty. In addition extra supplies of food and water were aboard in the event the boat met distressed mariners.

Fresh meat and vegetable were kept on ice for about a week - A week being the duration of the normal run. When the supply of ice was gone the pilots and crew fell back on preserved food - tins of beef, canned vegetables, salt fish.

On its return voyage the boat would be in port for about two days to take in new supplies. It cost about $400 to $500 a month to pay the crew and buy the provisions. The pilots's income depended on a certain amount of luck. The pilot had to take what came, big or little - steam or sail. They could make from $100 to $250 a month. Each pilot paid a share of the operational expenses.

The territory was loosely divided - Some boats on the eastbound route other on a south bound route. The competition was keen. Sometimes boats raced against each other to be the first to reach a sighted vessel.

As soon as the last pilot was off the crew took the boat back to port as quickly as possible. The first pilot always got a vacation of a week or so before the boat returned.

A young man could learn the business by serving on the pilot boat crew. When ready he could be licensed to take in small boats. After a few years he could receive a full license.

Occupations of John Petermann born 1879, lived in New Nersey (my grandmother's brother): 1908, boatman, 1909, boat ----, 1910, captain tug boat, 1915, steamer man, 1918 pilot, 1920, steamboat captain, 1925, boatman, 1930, brakeman R. R., 1942, alms house, Secaucus, New Jersey See John Petermann

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Monthly, June 1870, THE OCEAN STEAMER

Welcoming the harbor pilot on board.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, A Cruise in A Pilot-boat - Centruy Magazine, 1881

On the Lookout

Monetary incentives were sometimes given to the seamen who spied an incoming vessel.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, A Cruise in A Pilot-boat - Century Magazine, 1881

A Glimpse of the Sun

In the background is the one of the ships two yawls.

There was a lot of down time onboard during which the men frequently played cards.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, A Cruise in A Pilot-boat - Centruy Magazine, 1881

Launching the Boat

A pilot with his bag packed and his dress suit on prepares to leave the pilot boat and go to meet the ship - which is seen in the background.

Many times the pilot would get ready to be transferred to a ship only to find that they already had a a pilot on board.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, A Cruise in A Pilot-boat - Centruy Magazine, 1881

Boarding a Steamer

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, A Cruise in A Pilot-boat - Centruy Magazine, 1881

Iced Up

LIbrary of Congress

Pilot Boat Taking Pilots Out

The pilot boat is in the background.

You Tube - pilot boat

You Tube - pilot boat

You Tube - pilot boat - Pilot boarding on Interceptor, April 2008

Ferry Boats

Hamilton Ave Ferry

The Hamilton Ave Ferry went from the foot of Whitehall street in Manhattan to the foot of Hamilton ave in Brooklyn.

From 1846 this line was operated by the Union Ferry Co.


Officials of the Union Ferry Company say that at no time since the opening of the East River Bridge, in 1884, has the business at the ferries been as great as it is now. The reason is said to be the introduction of the trolley as a motive power for surface roads. So many people object to climbing the steps to the elevated stations, it is said, that they take the new trolley cars instead and go by the ferries.

Three of these trolley roads go to Hamilton Ferry, and as a result extra boats have been put on that route, and efforts are being made to get two ferry slips in this city instead of the one now in use at the foot of Whitehall street.

Very large and handsome boats have been put into commission on this ferry and they are crowded with passengers all day and very greatly overcrowded in the morning and evening hours.

(The Electrical Engineer: A Weekly Review of Theoretical and ..., Volume 15, 1893)

In 1897 the Hamilton Ave Ferry at the foot of Hamilton street connected to to lines to trolly lines to Brooklyn Heights, Nassau Electric lines and Coney Island Electirc lines.

Independent Ferries

In 1888 there was an injunction restraining Captain Marr of the Alberta M from carrying passengers from Brooklyn to the New Jersey Oil Works opposite New Brighton. The court overruled the injunction and the service continued.

In 1890 the Alberta M was listed as a tug.

In 1901 Charles McCrea was running the Alberta M as a ferryboat between the Atlantic docks and the Bayonne oil yards leaving at seven o'clock in the morning.

The "steamship" Alberta M sank in March 1902 at the Pinto Stores. she had been used as a ferry to carry sometimes as many as 180 men from Brooklyn to the New Jersey Oil Works in Bayonnne. Many of them were Italians. The boat had been built in 1882, and was 67 feet long and 15 feet wide.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, The Illustrated London News March 15, 1890

America Revisited Fulton Ferry, New York

1884: The sister ferry to the Clinton was the America a paddle driven boat belonging to the Union Ferry Company. On a crossing between Manhattan and Brooklyn in January 1884 the America was hit by a large piece of ice on the 6 o'clock in the evening run. Seconds later a large log hit the boat and became lodged in in the revolving starboard wheel's paddle box. Delays ensued. The Clinton was "taxed to the utmost" to accommodate the crowd. (NYT)

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, Leslie's history of the grater New York.

Ferryboat passengers landing on the ice

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly March 4, 1871

Crossing the East River on the Ice Bridge

Unfortunately, as with many of these images sold online the text has been cut out. Three lines below the image can still be read which includes the tidbits:

"twice this winter the East River between" ...stopping even the powerful steam ferry boats - and to permit adventurous people to make the passage on foot from shore to shore"........."The bridge lasted, on each occasion about four hours, until the falling of the tide detached the edges from the shores"...."and a general rush and scamble for terra firema,at once took place. Most of the adventurers - among whom were women and chil-"

In March 1888 it was possible to cross the ice from Brooklyn to Manhattan when an immense flow of ice came down the Hudson to the bay near Governor's Island. When the tide turned it floated up the East River past the Battery. It filled the river from Wall street to the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side and from Fulton street to Hamilton ave on the Brooklyn side. It was solid from shore to shore. The ice was about six inces deep and covered by about two inches of snow. The ferries, of course, were not able to run so some intrepid souls ventured out to try and make the crossing. In an hour about several hundred people had gone across from Brooklyn to New York and a few came in the other direction. Eventually the police stepped in and tried to stop anyone else from attempting the crossing. About half a dozen people remained on the ice when the floe broke up. Police on tugs rescued the stranded men by throwing ropes to them. It was said that the rive had been crossed on an ice bridge in 1813, 1817, 1821, 1851 and 1875. No mention was made of 1871. In 1851 15,000 people were reported to have crossed the river on the ice bridge.

Ferry Clinton, circa 1895 Mystic Seaport

River Thieves (Also known as River Pirates)

Another "occupation" on the Brooklyn waterfront was that of river thief. Although the waterfront was well patrolled by harbor police and warehouses hired guards to protect the goods stored therein, river thieves were common. They appear to have mostly stolen cotton, tobacco, sugar, coffee, wheat and ship parts. Many of the thieves worked in gangs with names like Smokey Hollow (in the 6th Ward), Red Hook Canalers, Gowanus and Eight Ward Hardscrabbles.

Although they caught many of these thieves the police were rarely able to get a conviction because the thieves obliterate any markings on the goods and the police were unable to find a person who claimed ownership and was willing to prosecute. Unless they were caught in the actual act of stealing most river thieves were not prosecuted. In the late 1890s river thieves were very active in the Atlantic basin. They slipped their row boats under the piers/docks gliding stealthily from point to point. The constructed makeshift shelters urder the piers where they drank, played cards and laid their plans.

Various methods were used to pilfer goods. Bales of cotton were thrown in the river and towed to shore where the bands were broken and the cotton was stuffed into smaller bags. Unattended boats were stripped of anything and everything.

The thieves would row under the sugar warehouses, bore a opening through the timbers of the wharf into the sugar hogheads stored on the docks above and then catch the sugar as it ran out of the hole. Coffee was stolen in the same manner.

The frontmen for the river thieves were said to be the local junk dealers.

Dutch Frank

Dutch Frank was arrested in July 1885 when he and two other men were involved in the the theft of a hawser (thick rope) off the British vessel Salisbury. The two accomplices were on board the ship and passed the goods to Frank who was in a row boat at the stern of the ship. The Captain of the Salisbury witness the transaction. As Frank rowed off the Captain called to a tug to follow. A police boat joined the pursuit. Frank got as far as Governor's island where he tried to hide. He was captured and brought to trial. Some months later he was convicted or another theft and sentences to five years in prison.

Frank Schmidt AKA Dutch Frank AKa Frank Smith "a big hulking fellow" was brought to trial for river piracy in October 1885. (Oct 2, 1885 (BE). He was said to be a Red Hook junkman who called himself a boatman. He was dressed in a "natty suit of navy blue, patent leather shoes and conspicuous cuffs fresh from the hands of Ching Lee" (BE Oct 6, 1886). He was convicted of receiving $20 worth of stolen sails and rope off the Norwegian ship Standard lying off the foot of Partition street. He acknowledged being in court before. Once for "insulting an officer with a slugshot. On being pushed he also acknowledged that he had been accused of stealing a rope from a steamer. Apparently he had been indicted but not tried on that offense because the the steamer left port before the case came to trial.

When he appeared for his sentencing his attire was greatly altered. He wore "heavy brogans and a jumper." (BE Oct 22, 1885). He was sentenced to five years in prison. The judge remarked that he was the kind of man who induced sailors to steal from their ships.

In 1895 "Dutch Frank" AKA Frank Smith, age 40 of 62 South street Manhattan, who already had a criminal record, was arrested on August 26 as he was about to land with a "cargo of plunder". He and a partner were rowing a 19 foot boat loaded with twenty seven bags of stolen fine white sugar weighing about 3,000 pounds and worth about $90. It was believe that they had stolen the sugar from a warehouse near Atlantic Avenue.

See Red Hook Police and Fire Departments

Brooklyn Eagle

Stealing From A Lighter

Brooklyn Eagle

Hiding Place Under a Pier

Gowanus Bay

Harper's Weekly, June 9, 1877, collection of Maggie Land Blanck, July 2013


In 1877 the New York Bay Regatta started at a stake off Hunt's Dock, Gowanus Bay, went around a channel buoy of Bobbin's Reef, then to a stake boat in Graveshead Bay opposite the Bath House and then to the point of departure. It was a distance of 10 miles sailed twice by boats in the first three classes.

SECOND PLACE - CHURCHES IN RED HOOK - NORWEGIANS IN RED HOOK - Other Images of Brooklyn - LIFE IN RED HOOK MID TO LATE 1800S - RED HOOK TAVERNS SALOONS AND LIQUOR STORES IN THE MID TO LATE 1800S Red Hook Butchers - Red Hook Celebrities - Red Hook Restaurants - Life in Red Hook - Red Hook Streets



Red Hook Streets

Life in Red Hook

Adams Lumber - Atlantic Flour - Chesebrough/Vaseline - Eagleton Sprint Co. - P. H. Gill & Sons Forge and Machine Works - Lidgerwood - New York Wire and Rope - Pioneer Iron Works - South Brooklyn Iron - James H. Williams, Drop Forging - Worthington Hydraulic Pump Works -

History of the Isthmian Steamship Lines, Erie Basis, Red Hook Brooklyn includes an arial view of the Erie Basin Terminal and tons of other images and information

Red Hook Waterfront, The O'Connell Organization is a family owned and operated real estate development business. Clearly they love the Red Hook waterfront and their website contains some fabulous photos of the old warehouses and other buildings in Red Hook.

Port Side, Cultural Tourism

Water Front Museum and Showboat Barge

Brooklyn Memories

A Preservation Plan For Red Hook 2009

Red Hook Flickr Group

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© Maggie Land Blanck - Page created 2013 from an original page of 2004 - Latest update, October 2014