Boats Empty Out of 79th Street Marina Ahead of Reconstruction; But Where Did They Go?


Empty. Photo by Marianne Hettinger.

The 79th Street marina in the Hudson River is empty, as the city gets ready to start a major reconstruction project which should expand the docks and make the area more resilient as climate change continues to reshape the environment.

The boats that have docked there, some of which stay year-round, are all gone. We asked the Parks Department where they went, and a spokesperson wrote that the residents were offered assistance to move, and given information about three dozen local marinas. They will get priority to come back when the new marina is complete, but that could be a while. Work is set to start in 2023 after environmental reviews.

The project is slated to cost $90 million, with FEMA footing about one-third of the bill. Deteriorating wooden structures at the basin will be replaced “using modern resiliency standards,” with some timber being switched out for steel and concrete. The new design will be ADA compliant, the city says. And the area will be dredged. West Side Rag got a look at an early design in 2019.

Marianne Hettinger, a local resident who has visited the boats, wrote in that she already misses the community. “It was a community that was part of the Upper West Side whose presence was always comforting to me and imagining life on those boats always looked so adventurous yet cozy to me,” she wrote.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 12 comments | permalink
    1. Ed Bacon says:

      The Boat Basin diaspora: No place in Manhattan would accommodate the boats. They have had to move to Jersey City, New Rochelle, Port Washington, the Rockaways, Kingston, etc. Some boats were sold. Some given away. Parks has refused to give the boaters a written guarantee of return.
      The Basin will belong to the birds and the rats for at least the next two years before the rebuild starts. Anyone need fertilizer for their flowers or gardens?

      • Eric says:

        What will become of the woman who incessantly fed the ducks and geese? She was a nuisance in the extreme. The birds, not so much… Let’s hope she doesn’t have a fondness for pigeons.

        • Marianne says:

          Eric: the woman feeding the rats/ seagulls/ pigeons is still coming. They did not close the pier down and she is going to be a fixture even if they close the pier. Old habits die hard…

      • frankie says:

        Don’t forget City Island in the Bronx! City Island, once the site of a thriving ship building industry, still has three yacht clubs, numerous marinas and moorings – and of course the seafood restaurants it has become known for.

    2. Cato says:

      It will be interesting to see how the developers build a 30-story luxury condo in the water.

    3. Barbra Music says:

      I’ll so miss watching the boats bobbing up and down on the water which sparkles like diamonds. The feel and sound of walking on the wood can never be replaced by concrete and steel. Just like the new futuristic sky scrapers popping up everywhere , I can’t imagine why architects aren’t able to design something sustainable, but with a nod toward humanity. Maybe they’ll put wood over the cement if we’re lucky.

    4. SAM SPOONER says:

      tragic. Been enjoying seeing that community for over 50 years.

    5. young_man! says:

      As someone who used to keep their boat there, the place was a nightmare, docks falling apart and downright dangerous when hit by waves from passing commercial traffic and with electrical issues that bordered on dangerous.
      The office/dock staff was amazing in keeping everything functional but they couldn’t perform miracles.
      Most of the boats were used as condos and never moved from their slips. Additionally the waste pump-out rarely functioned so the boaters that didn’t move their boats would just discharge their waste tanks directly into the river.
      I look forward to the construction of a clean and modern marina with in-slip pump-outs like most other marinas up and down the east coast.

    6. Clau says:

      If the construction project won’t start till 2023, why on earth were the boats and the people living in them asked to leave now. Another way of the city disrupting the lives of people based on bureaucracy.
      The upper West Siders enjoyed having them there, they were part of the community. They will be missed.
      I wonder what the city really has in mind for the area.

    7. Elliot Podwill says:

      Want to bet we won’t see the boats again for a good decade if at all. Clear them out two years before planned work begins? Will it actually start that year? And will it be continuous or piecemeal? There goes another UWS gem.