M is for Maritime

Located at 6 Pennyfield Ave, Bronx, NY 10465, within the SUNY Maritime College campus
Museum Website:  https://www.sunymaritime.edu/aboutpublic-programs/maritime-industry-museum

Maritime Industry Museum

Among my list for this A to Z Blogging Challenge, this will be the least known. Surprisingly, not even many native New Yorkers (Is there a word ‘New York Citian’?) are aware of this museum. 

The Maritime Industry Museum is a treasure trove of information about the seafaring industry, its origin and development in the western world, with specific reference to New York. The stated mission of the Maritime Industry Museum is “to collect, restore, preserve and interpret artifacts, photographs, art and writings celebrating all facets of the Maritime Industry ashore and afloat”.

The museum is located in historic Fort Schuyler, within the campus of the SUNY (State University of New York) Maritime College. Its location right below the Throgs Neck Bridge offers a unique view of the bridge and Manhattan further ahead.

The museum was established in 1986 as a true labor of love. It was an idea of Captain Jeffrey W. Monroe, then Associate Professor of Marine Transportation at SUNY Maritime College to provide a location to display the rich heritage of the maritime industry for the general public, in addition to a resource for the college’s cadets.

With the help and contributions from the college’s staff, alumni and student body the museum was filled with photographs and paintings of ships, and its passageways flooded with showcases displaying nautical artifacts from the seven seas.

Since then, steamship lines, related companies in the maritime industry, and private collectors have donated hundreds of artifacts to supplement the museum’s collection. Today, the Maritime Industry Museum has over 2,000 items on display, and thousands of other items in its archives, which will be preserved for future generations.

This is a hidden gem of a museum is a testament to the importance of shipping and the seafaring way of life to the modern global society.

The first European to settle in the lands that Fort Schuyler stands today was John Throgmorton, who obtained a license to settle on the peninsula which now bears his name on October 2, 1642, according to recorded history. The place gets its name, Throgg’s Neck, from this original inhabitant. Four sides of the fort’s irregular pentagon-shaped edifice face Long Island Sound and its juncture with the East River.

With the idea of constructing a fort to protect New York from attack by sea, a tract of 52 acres of land was purchased by the Federal Government in 1826. In December 1845, the fort was completed. It is named after for the Continental Army General Philip Schuyler, who commanded the Northern Army.

In 1932, military operations at the fort were ended and in 1934, it became the home of the New York State Merchant Marine Academy.

In cooperation with the Eastern Dive Boat Association, the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler has artifacts from many local shipwrecks of different time periods, like from the Cunard liner Oregon.

The museum has many unique artifacts ranging from the Clipper Ship era to the present. 

The extensive collection of ship models, some up to 6 feet in length, is a major part of the museum. Some of the valuable large scale models include those of the liners S.S. Bremen, S.S. Reliance, S.S. Hansa ,S.S. Argentina Maru, and S.S. Saturnia.

The library has maritime industry books, periodicals, documents, papers, prints, photographs, and old steamship company records.

There are so many artifacts related to the history on New York and its seafaring environment. The museum is an excellent reminder that maritime trade is how and why New York City has grown into the international center of industry that it has.

The Maritime College has active classrooms inside the museum.

The Maritime Industry Museum is spread over two floors, with many galleries which are full with charts, historical documents, advertising posters from bygone times, paintings, ship parts, and shipping related instruments and tools.

In addition to browsing the artifacts and maps relevant to maritime trade from the earliest Atlantic fishermen to mid-20th-century supertankers, Fort Schuyler itself is an interesting place to visit.

The winding stone steps, of the spiral staircase going up the fort’s towers, are a real charm. 

Even the forgotten ship disasters like General Slocum, Morro Castle, Andrea Doria, etc. are not forgotten here.

Outside the museum, the grounds offer great views all around.

This museum is quite enjoyable, and one learns a lot in the process, even if you don’t have any knowledge of, or interest in ships and shipbuilding. There is so much history living in its galleries!

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  1. Pingback: Reflections on April Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2023 | The Big Jackfruit Tree

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