The Waterfront Museum is one of the most unique museums in a city filled with unique cultural and creative institutions. During the decades when New York Harbor was the largest seaport in the world and prior to the containerization of the maritime shipping industry, the waterways around New York City were filled with Railroad barges towed by tugboats. Most of these small, flat-bottom vessels were abandoned by the 1960s and the era of barges almost forgotten. The Waterfront Museum maintains one of the last surviving railroad barges, inviting visitors aboard the Lehigh Valley #79.
What You Will See
The Waterfront Museum is almost a single item museum: the Lehigh Valley #79 Railroad Barge. Saved from extinction in 1985 by David Sharps, the barge has been lovingly restored and preserved and is open to curious visitors, floating just off of the Red Hook shoreline. The vessel is filled with artifacts dating to the maritime heyday of New York City and knowledgable staff is more than happy to share stories of life on the water in early 20th-century New York. The barge also plays host to a variety of performances--one of the most unique spaces in the city.
Why You Should Go
Located at the very edge of Red Hook, the Waterfront Museum is not easy to get to. Public transportation ends before you reach the barge, and the narrow streets are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy damage. But the trip is well worth it, not just for this unique piece of authentic New York History, but for the unrivaled views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Museum hours are limited, so double-check the schedule before you make the trek. This is a must-see museum.