Seaport Report: February 2018

Paul Farrell’s book chronicles the history of the tugboat industry and its importance to ports and commerce.
W.W. Norton

BY JANEL BLADOW

February’s chill isn’t putting a stop to the fun around the Seaport. There’s a little something for everyone!

Book talks of tugs and stowaways… Neighbors and boat buddies join architect Paul Farrell for a fun talk and a few drinks on Thursday, Feb. 8, at the Melville Gallery. A life-long tugboat enthusiast, Farrell spent 25 years researching and writing “Tugboats Illustrated,” (W.W. Norton, 2016, $34), an extensively detailed guide to the rise, design and role of these workhorses of the waterways. The Cambridge, Mass., author traced how first mule- and horse-drawn barges gave way to steam-powered tugs which eventually evolved into today’s hyper-specialized offshore work vessels. His tome is worth checking out for anyone with an interest in boats, waterways, commerce and design. It is full of photos, drawings and diagrams of the development of these hard-working boats. It also details how the tug is shaped by the demands of their watery workplaces and its element of danger, and pays tribute to the intrepid seafarers who manned them. Physics and design fans will relish details about how these boats can make exacting turns in small spaces, navigate towering sea swells, and still guide larger seacraft and ships safely to their destinations. The South Street Seaport Museum hosts Book Talks every month and is worth the $10 admission (free to SSSM members).

Last month celebrated the launch of “The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica” by Laurie Gwen Shapiro (Simon & Schuster, 2018, $14). She tells the tale of a 17-year old boy from Queens with a lust for the adventurer’s life. Defying his parents who were dead set against his dream, Billy Gawronski set out to join American explorer Richard Byrd on his historic journey to the South Pole. Late at night on Aug. 24, 1928, the boy jumped into the dirty Hudson River and swam to Hoboken, N.J., where Byrd’s flagship, The City of New York, was docked. With no plan beyond hiding below decks, Billy was soon discovered (since he reeked of fishy water) along with other stowaways and put ashore. Not to be deterred, Billy boarded the boat again — and was found — two more times. Did the boy make to the South Pole? You have to read the book! For info about next month’s Book Talk, see: https://southstreetseaportmuseum.org/book-talks-at-the-seaport-museum.

Women & Wall Street… Since February is a chilly month best spent indoors, here’s another book about a local hot topic worth a read. It’s even nominated as an “Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction NYC Book Writing” this year by the The Guides Association of New York City (GANYC). Author George Robb traces the key role of women on Wall Street in his newest book, “Ladies of the Ticker: Women and Wall Street from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression,” (University of Illinois Press, 2016, $25 paperback). Women have been on Wall Street and managing money for decades, but their contributions have also been long overlooked. Now this history professor explores three generations of women who ran with the bulls and the bears. Robb details the financial acumen of trailblazing women bankers, brokers and speculators at the turn of the 20th century. And, in case you’re interested, the 4th-annual GANYC Apple Awards will be held March 12, at the SVA theater on 23rd Street. Brian Stokes Mitchell hosts the event, which celebrates those who share what makes New York City great. For more details: www.ganyc.org.

Share the love… Let’s also celebrate Valentine’s Day. Skip the roses and dinner (or maybe not) and try something different. Warrior Bridge (250 Front St.) hosts a Thai Massage for Two workshop (Sunday Feb. 11, 7–9:30 pm, $80 a couple). For two hours you will be shown how to give each other a full body massage. Each of you will receive a total massage as well. Experts will use their hands, arms, feet and legs to guide trainees through the moves. Assisted stretches and deep compression of joints and muscles help restore lost flexibility and relieve tension. Dress comfortably since the massage is fully clothed. No oils used. And it’s great for all body types. “A lovely evening with minimal effort and maximum relaxation,” is promised. The best part? You can practice your newly learned techniques at home on Feb. 14 (after the dinner and flowers, one hopes!). Limited space so RSVP required, www.warriorbridge.com.

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