Intro from Jay Allison: Anniversaries are for remembering. Of course, none of us have forgotten. So, heading into the flurry of remembrance that this anniversary is bound to bring, there is some hesitance–especially among the media whose charge is to broadly mete out the stories–over what we should say, and how much, and why. Here at Transom, we wanted something simple and unadorned that we hadn’t heard before, something that resembled a spoken history, at which radio excels, but which due to time and format constraints, often remains in archives. "All Available Boats" is a series of short narratives by those who worked the river on that day–ferry captains, fireboat engineers, tug crew members, private boaters–evacuating an estimated 300,000 people from the waterfront. The material was gathered by producer David Tarnow for the Southstreet Seaport Museum and we’re glad to give it a wider hearing. As David says, these people spoke with eagerness and reluctance, "eager to get the stories off their chests and reluctant to relive the horror of that day." That’s how many of us feel, I’m betting. We hope you will find this work both eloquent and quiet.
Notes from David Tarnow
“All Available Boats: Harbor Voices from 9/11” consists of a series of interviews with members of New York’s maritime community and it documents their response to the attack on the World Trade Center and their role in the subsequent evacuation of Lower Manhattan. Since the bridges, tunnels and subways were closed off, the water suddenly became the only way out. The Coast Guard enlisted all available boats to evacuate an army of walking wounded and terrified office workers and to bring rescuers and supplies onto the island. What emerges is the story of a collective effort of selfless dedication on the part of these previously invisible waterfront hands. These are the people who made this evacuation possible (perhaps the piece should be re-titled “Dunkirk on the Hudson”).
The interviews were commissioned by the South Street Seaport Museum for a permanent archive documenting the event and they form the basis of an interactive exhibit currently on display. I worked very closely with South Street Seaport’s senior historian Steve Jaffe to make sure to show that the expertise, teamwork and ability to improvise under pressure were qualities practiced by these people in their daily working lives. Many of the interviewees had approached the Museum with written accounts and when it came down to it they were both eager and reluctant to talk. Eager to get the story off their chests and reluctant to having to relive the horror of that day.
Captain of the Staten Island ferry Newhouse:
A Sandy Hook Harbor Pilot:
Owner of Amico Ironworks:
A sailing coach at the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point:
New York Fireman assigned to fireboat John McKeen for Marine Company 1:
Port Captain for Reinhour Transportation, a tug and barge company:
Former crewmember of the fireboat John J. Harvey:
Chief Engineer on the fireboat John J. Harvey:
A Battery Park resident rescued on 9/11:
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