Quadrozzi invites 107-year-old ship to Gowanus Bay Terminal

Booted from Hoboken, historic ferry finds new home in Red Hook

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Hoboken’s loss is Brooklyn’s gain.

A beloved 107-year-old ferryboat booted out of its Hoboken home on the Hudson River last week has found refuge in Red Hook.

The history-rich SS Yankee, after being made homeless last week, on July 2 was tugged over to its new home at the Gowanus Bay Terminal.

“We had nowhere to go,” said owner Victoria MacKenzie-Childs. “This was a way for Yankee to exist.”

MacKenzie-Childs and her husband, Richard, are both artists and have owned the boat for the past 12 years. Said to be the oldest known ferryboat in the country, the U.S. Navy commissioned it during World War I and II to be a patrol boat. During the 1920s, it shuttled thousands of newly-arrived immigrants from Ellis Island to New York City.

After spending eight years docked at a private pier in Hoboken, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the steel-hulled passenger vessel was forced to relocate to a pier owned by the New Jersey city. In March, the city of Hoboken hit the ship with an eviction notice, said MacKenzie-Childs.

Desperate, the couple tried to negotiate with the mayor’s office to allow the boat to stay in Hoboken. But, in late June, they were told that the old ship had to leave for reasons that included electrical violations and other complaints.

With just days to find a new port big enough to hold the 150-foot-long vessel with three-decks, the boat owners went to the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. The Alliance was able to link up the owners with concrete titan John Quadrozzi Jr. of the Gowanus Bay Terminal. He allowed the crew to dock the boat on the Henry Street pier.

Even before an agreement was finalized, the vessel was tugged over to Red Hook last week because it was in such a dire situation, said MacKenzie-Childs.

After meeting Quadrozzi and viewing the neighborhood’s industrial waterfront, MacKenzie-Childs said that having Quadrozzi as a boat landlord was a perfect match.

“After we got here, we knew it was meant to be,” she said. “I want Red Hook to be as grateful to Yankee as Yankee is to Red Hook.”

Yankee will likely become a permanent fixture at the Gowanus Bay Terminal, said both Quadrozzi and MacKenzie-Childs.

The ferryboat has been revamped over the years and has even been used as a “boatel” for people to rent out rooms for overnight stays.

MacKenzie-Childs said that she hopes to create a public museum in the boat. She wants to have exhibits showing the history of the waterfront and the Yankee. The ship will offer free tours and MacKenzie-Childs said she plans to rent out the upper deck as a community and professional meeting space.

“Yankee could be a business think tank,” she said, “a place where people can leave the corporate board room.”

Quadrozzi said he expects to have the boat permanently docked at the Columbia Street pier so that the public can easily board it from the street.

“It’s going to be a public attraction vessel,” said Quadrozzi, adding that his vision for the waterfront matched that of MacKenzie-Childs.

Quadrozzi is also in talks with PortSide NewYork, the owner of the Mary A. Whalen, a Depression-era oil tanker, to have that boat moved permanently to the Columbia Street pier.

“My hope is that the public can become educated by having these vessels along Columbia Street,” he said.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ishmael from Avenue I says:
Public museum? Bet someone, er, the only person on the Mary Whalen is getting a little seasick..
July 9, 2013, 7:40 am
T-Bone from DoBro says:
Oh jeez. This is going to make Die (Jerome) Hipster's head explode.
July 9, 2013, 7:44 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Well, living on a ferry is one way to future proof against hurricanes and sea-level rise.
July 9, 2013, 8:18 am
Karen from Red Hook says:
This is a very beautiful old boat (haven't seen the inside). Love the notion of more historical vessels docking in Red Hook.
July 9, 2013, 8:28 am
The Chooch from your ghetto says:
This is fantastic! The Gowanus inlet could become to the age of steam what Mystic Seaport is to the age of sail. A museum of old boats, and a new cultural tourism center for Brooklyn. And, maybe an R&D hub for solar-powered boats and other environmental initiatives. Remember folks, the reclamation of the entire New York waterfront for human use and habitation is a long term objective of city planning. The Mast Brothers could open a factory down here and sail into Gowanus in their fabulous wooden schooner.
July 9, 2013, 8:30 am
Dave from hoboken says:
"tried to negotiate with Mayor"... has anyone successfully reached a compromise with this incompetent public servant? Just another case of her inability to work well with the community...maybe if the boat had bike lanes they could have stayed!
July 9, 2013, 8:33 am
Dave from hoboken says:
"tried to negotiate with Mayor"... has anyone successfully reached a compromise with this incompetent public servant? Just another case of her inability to work well with the community...maybe if the boat had bike lanes they could have stayed!
July 9, 2013, 8:34 am
The Chooch from your ghetto says:
It doesn't matter. We'll take the boat, for sure! Maybe Hoboken can take a few of our public housing projects in exchange. Oh, and we got a bridge for sale too. This is a great deal with Hoboken, they don't know what they're losing. We'll have a Hipster Love Boat on the waterfront!
July 9, 2013, 8:41 am
o3 from bk says:
wonder if they still rent rooms?
July 9, 2013, 9:09 am
the Chooch from your ghetto says:
"MacKenzie-Childs and her husband, Richard, are BOTH ARTISTS and have owned the boat for the past 12 years."

Emphasis added. The boat is full of their art. This is sheer awesomeness! The visions these guys must have, and their ability to live the life! They should really be in Brooklyn. And they won't even have to look for a studio.
July 9, 2013, 9:54 am
Shwammy from Hobokken says:
so the dining area pic has a glass table suspended by rope at 4 points. does that mean in rougher waters or unexpected swells the glass and metal table swings wildly around?
Nice, maybe that "interesting" looking lady with the facial tic and kool-aid hair moonlights as a paramedic or something in addition to siphoning money from dim-witted unsuspecting hipsters that board her vessel.
July 9, 2013, 11:27 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
meh, a boat is cool, but lets get some submarines.
July 9, 2013, 11:55 am
Rob from Sunset Park says:
The table is clearly wood, and on pulleys so that it can be raised and lowered depending on the how the space will be used.

I don't know anything about the boat, I'm just looking at the photograph.
July 9, 2013, 12:39 pm
Marilyn from Ferry guest says:
I stayed on the Yankee Ferry.
It's a treasure that Vicky and Richard share.
It was more interesting that corporate Manhattan,
Maybe it wasn't yuppified enough.
Seems like a cycle- artists make an area interesting, lawyers and corporate types buy up the area and kick the artists out for being too different.
Don't they have more important things to do?
Good luck.
July 10, 2013, 9:47 am
James from Ditmas says:
It's a cool piece of history, no doubt, but Victoria and Richard are certifiably insane.
Aug. 8, 2013, 2:49 pm
Canonchet from Brooklyn Heights says:
Spied the Yankee recently in its new temporary Gowanus Bay berth, from the Columbia Street Esplanade - it looked rather said, amid the sand and gravel, though still proudly intact. Maybe a more accessible and amenable docking spot could be found inside Erie Basin somewhere? Welcome to Brooklyn: I made many fondly remembered trips (to Block Island) on the Yankee as child with my father, as he did with his father before him.
Aug. 19, 2013, 10:11 am
JT from Virginia says:
"It's a cool piece of history, no doubt, but Victoria and Richard are certifiably insane."

Disagree - they're eccentric, but some of the nicest, coolest people I've ever met. Staying on the Yankee was one of my favorite NY experiences. I hope I'll be able to do it again...
Nov. 4, 2013, 3:23 am
Paul Gattinella from Providence,RI. says:
I've been a professional mariner (Merchant Marine) all of my life. Yankee played a very big part of my early days. (Trips with family...and later on... girlfriends) out to Newport, and "The Block" for the day. Proposed to my beloved wife during one of those idyllic trips. Annual "poker" trips with a bunch of buddies....(now all gone...far too soon)
I am also an antique and classic yacht restorer. (Presently live aboard my own "Yankee" in Florida)
Although well intentioned, I find it sad that the present owners have caused so much unintentional destruction to this historic vessel. Gutted and misplaced furnishings and bulkheads...."ham and egg" wiring to what was once a 6 volt system. Kind of like turning a classic 18th Century Home into a clothing boutique. I don't care how much "arts and crafts" you produce....or how great an artist you proclaim yourself to demolished a classic vessel in order to showcase your own "self-proclaimed" talents. I am also VERY familiar with the dangerous and rat-infested Henry Street dock. (A back-water junk yard.) HOPEFULLY, you will not litter the dock with "artistic" tires stuffed with plants.....and run cheap extension cords to wherever you can steal power.
You should be ashamed. Leave Antique and Classic Vessels to those who know how. Yankee would be prouder as a reef.
June 22, 2014, 3:17 pm

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