It's not a typical museum subject, but the Caddell Dry Dock and Repair on Staten Island is the star of a new exhibit at the Municipal Art Society. The show "Caddell Dry Dock: 100 Years Harborside" — organized by the Staten Island museum, the Noble Maritime Collection — allows a peek inside the workings of this necessary part of a working harbor.
Dry-docking involves guiding a ship out of the water in order to make repairs. Ships float into a box-like framework. When the vessels are secured, water is pumped out, allowing workers to fix the boat. "It's the way you get big boats dry," photographer Michael Falco told the Knickerbocker.
Mr. Falco's contemporary photos of the dry dock, taken over a two-month period, are featured in the exhibit. Most notable is a large photo of dry dock workers labeled, "Electrician, Carpenter, Ironworker, Dockmaster, Machinist." Along with caulkers, they are among the many jobs that make a dry dock operate. Nearby is a photo of a foreman replacing a propeller.
One of the last surviving ship repair yards in New York, Caddell fixes about 300 ships a year, including the Staten Island ferry and Circle Line boats.They have even worked on a replica of Henry Hudson's Half Moon.
The dry dock is a family-run operation that spans three generations. John B. Caddell came from Nova Scotia. He and his three brothers each married daughters from the Forbes family who lived on a neighboring farm. Caddell first rented a shipyard in Red Hook and later moved to Staten Island.
Two pieces of equipment on display bore the names of animals: "Pinch dogs," which are large pieces of hardware connecting blocks and planks, and "beetle," a mallet used to force cloth and oakum (hemp or fiber containing tar) into plank seams. "The sound of that mallet is what you heard all over New York harbors a century ago," Mr. Falco said.
Many gathered recently to see the exhibition, including industrial archaeologist Tom Flagg and Anne Fahim of Anne Fahim Architectural Services, who is working to preserve buildings on Governor's Island. Her connection to Staten Island is through her great-uncle, Ginger Ketzer, a former boxer who ran a bar on Port Richmond Avenue and Richmond Terrace called Ginger's Place, where tugboat captains would gather for drinks.
Enjoying the show was Flint Gennari, who documents the boroughs of New York in the early morning with his camera, seeking to take advantage of the light that comes just before dawn.Noble Museum founder Erin Urban said her favorite photo in the show was one showing workers carrying materials in the dockyard. It had a "timeless" quality to it, she said, pointing out that the picture could have been taken now or 20-years ago or earlier.The Caddell Dry Dock was "like a little city," she said.
Others at the show opening included the coordinator of Municipal Art Society tours, Tamara Coombs; a trustee of the Noble Museum, Gale Bellafiore, with her husband, Vincent Bellafiore, a past president of the Staten Island Children's Museum. He was instrumental in helping that museum acquire the gift of a 1941 Seagrave Pumper fire truck from Lackawaxen, Pa., after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Another guest attending the exhibition was project coordinator in the capital projects office of the Central Park Conservancy, Tom Rinaldi, who has coauthored a book called "Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape" (University Press of New England). He is working on an exhibition about the Yonkers Power Station to be held at the Municipal Art Society lobby in September.
At a talk Tuesday by Mr. Falco at the Municipal Art Society, the Knickerbocker met a former carpenter at Caddell's, Eric Feltham, who in 1993, at age 9, went to sea for three months with his father, a fisherman and boat builder.Mr. Feltham had built a wooden model of a dry dock inside of which was a Grand Banks fishing schooner. He made the model for his grandson, he said.
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CITY MEMORY Are streets and recollections intertwined? One could think so when viewing a show at the Municipal Art Society featuring the Urban Memory Project, exploring changes in two Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Created by Rebecca Krucoff and Ain Gordon, the exhibit displays photos and writing by students at the Brooklyn School for Global Studies and Williamsb urg Preparatory High School, as well as photos by Jackie Neale Chadwick.
At the opening this week were photographer Anders Goldfarb, whose influences include Eugène Atget, Berenice Abbott, and Walker Evans; Louis Blumengarten, who leads historical tours of New York neighborhoods; Coney Island sideshow banner painter Marie Roberts; editor of the thrice-annual Professional Women Photographers Magazine, Barbara Nelson; a city planner, Bruce Rosen; and a co-author of "Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names" (New York University Press), Jennifer Weiss.