Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

Arthur Kill by Nate Dorr

OBJECTTugboat, Couch


Artist Statement

Arthur Kill, that slim waterway that prevents Staten Island from being part of New Jersey, has a surplus of discarded watercraft. Scuttled, sunken, or just eternally moored. The Rossville Tugboat Graveyard is certainly best known of these sites, but wander the other industrial neighborhoods of western Staten and you’ll find yourself in places like this one: some dozen vessels, ranging from seemingly-operational to scrap-heap, all tucked into a narrow cove hidden from the road by a veil of trees. A hidden salvage yard? Temporary storage inadvertently become long-term? It is difficult to say.

I was dredged out of the Gowanus and deposited in Brooklyn in summer 2004. When computer problems forced me into a musical hiatus shortly after, I found myself wielding a camera with ever increasing frequency until musical concerns were all but forgotten. For the last couple years, I’ve bridged the gap as a photographer and writer for Impose Magazine.