With demand rising for housing and other amenities businesses along Brooklyn’s southwest industrial waterfront area in Red Hook are slowly being erased off the map.
John Quadrozzi Jr., who owns the Gowanus Bay Terminal at the end of Columbia Street, has an interesting idea to keep the waterway alive, Crain’s New York reported.
He imagines a “grandiose” ship or historic boat floating beside the Columbia Street Esplanade, welcoming visitors with tours and classrooms devoted to maritime industry. He believes many in the city do not realize that essential goods like heating oil and rock salt come from terminals on Gowanus Bay, a pier-strewn inlet between Sunset Park and Red Hook. The current vessel for Quadrozzi’s plans is a retired FDNY boat.
At Quadrozzi’s business, the GBX, concrete is crushed, fuel barges are docked and dispatched out to sea via tugboat, and road salt and powdered slag—a byproduct of the steel manufacturing process that can be used in place of cement—is loaded and unloaded. By having tours and classes dedicated to maritime industry, this can be a way to educate and preserve the maritime business area of Red Hook.
Preserving an industrial area is important to the economy as well. A recent study from the Pratt Center for Community Development compared the average incomes of families employed in manufacturing with those employed in retail. The study constructed two hypothetical families, one living on the average yearly manufacturing wage ($50,934) and another living on the average retail wage ($25,416). Manufacturing jobs are overshadowed and many younger people do not realize these are actually very good career paths.
Carolina Salguero is the founder of Portside New York which operates out of a retired tanker named the Mary Whalen.
She has been working to connect the public to the waterfront for 12 years. When it comes to the city’s shoreline, misinformation abounds, Salguero said. “The most damaging is the widely held belief that the working waterfront is dead’.
By Justin Edwards