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The North River Historic Ship Society, founded in 1994, is a state-chartered nonprofit organization that supports and encourages the restoration of historic ships, advocates for free dockage so that these ships can be open to the public, and it sponsors public programs.

What's the North River? "North River" is the historic name of the Lower Hudson River (from the Battery to the northern tip of Manhattan). It dates back to the 17th-century Dutch who called the Hudson the "North River" and the Delaware (along New Jersey’s southern shore) the "South River." Today’s professional mariners still call the Lower Hudson the North River.

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Seventh Annual 2015
North River Historic Ship Festival CANCELED

The Sixth Annual 2014 North River Historic Ship Festival was held Friday, June 20-24, 2014 at Hudson River Park's Pier 25, Hudson River and N. Moore St., in Lower Manhattan

Tug Pegasus and Fireboat John J. Harvey
Photo © Ann T. Rossetti

The 107-year-old tugboat Pegasus and the retired NYC fireboat John J. Harvey delighted guests with free river trips at last year's festival.

Events included free tours of historic ships; free trips on the Hudson River aboard a schooner, a tugboat and a fireboat; a circus on a showboat, pier-side fishing, nautical knot-tying and more.

For a report on the 2013 festival, click here.

Participating Vessels

Ships at the festival
Aerial photo copyright Milo Hess.

Lehigh Valley Barge #79, tug Pegasus, the steamship Lilac, and fireboat John J. Harvey (above, left to right) offered river trips and dockside tours during the festival, as did the schooner Pioneer, pictured above.

Vessels participating in the festival included:

  • Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79, built in 1914 and celebrating its 100th birthday this year. It is the only surviving wooden railroad barge of its type.
  • The retired NYC fireboat John J. Harvey, built in 1931 and a 9/11 firefighting hero, looking better than ever after recent major restoration work.
  • The 174-foot former Coast Guard lighthouse tender Lilac, built in 1933 and the last steam-powered lighthouse tender in America. Visitors can see crew quarters, heavy-lift cranes and the ship’s amazing triple expansion steam engine.
  • The iron-hulled schooner Pioneer, built in 1885 to carry cargo, now carrying passengers on harbor sails. She is owned by South Street Seaport Museum.
  • The 107-year-old tug Pegasus, who spent her long career towing barges and docking ships in New York Harbor.


Festival Highlights

More than 6,000 people have participated in the six North River Historic Ship Festivals held in Hudson River Park since 2009.  Adults and kids, from West Side neighbors to international visitors, have come to explore antique ships, take boat rides on the river and learn how ships like these made New York one of the greatest ports in the world.  Scenes from previous festivals are below.

copyright North River Historic Ship Society copyright North River Historic Ship Society
copyright North River Historic Ship Society copyright North River Historic Ship Society

copyright North River Historic Ship Society

Photo credits: Betsy Haggerty, Ann T. Rossetti, Bernie Ente.
Clockwise from top left:  Learning about steam engines aboard Lilac; registering for free tours and trips at the North River Historic Ship Society booth on Pier 25; gathering near Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79; getting wet on fireboat John J. Harvey; starting out on a river trip aboard John J. Harvey, as tug Pegasus ties up to Lehigh Valley No. 79 a.k.a. the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge.