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About Us

Built in 1929, Lightship #115 "Frying Pan" guarded its namesake Frying Pan Shoals, 30 miles off Cape Fear, NC, from 1930 to 1965. She is 133 feet, 3 inches in length, with a 30-foot beam, a draft of 13 feet, 8 inches, and she weighs in at 632 gross tons. 

The US Coast Guard used lightships as floating lighthouses – their beacon of light was used as a navigational aid to guard other ships from running aground on shoals (or submerged rocks) and to safely navigate them through the night, dense fog, and storms. The unique shape of lightship hulls was designed to withstand the storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, and 15 men lived aboard the ship to keep the light atop the mast burning and the foghorn sounding, regardless of the weather, season, or time of day. The crew was stationed aboard the ship for three months, followed by two months of shore leave. It was said to be a job "filled with months of boredom followed by minutes of pure fear."

As background to the current location of Lightship “Frying Pan,” back in the early 1980s, Captain John Krevey had an electrical contracting business on Pier 63, near the end of West 23rd Street. In 1985, the controversial Westway Project was finally scuttled, and the west side of Manhattan had been a collection of rotting piers for more than a decade, with virtually no legal public waterfront access.

At this point, Lightship “Frying Pan” had been abandoned for 10 years while docked at an old oyster cannery in the Chesapeake Bay. We believe she sank due to a broken pipe and was underwater for three years before being raised by salvors. But, instead of going to the scrapyard, John Krevey bought the ship and set about to restore it.  After tons of silt and shells were removed from the hull, the ship was outfitted with a Volkswagen engine and, in 1989, sailed to New York City with the intention of creating a waterfront public access location and keeping alive New York City's working maritime history.

A vintage Lackawanna Railroad Barge (and an Erie Railroad caboose), which had been used to transport goods from New Jersey rails to Manhattan, was bought to help dock the Frying Pan, and Pier 63 Maritime was born. The site quickly became a crucial waterfront and Chelsea community-gathering place. Artists used it for painting and drawing, Pier 63 Maritime hosted Free Movie Night with Community Board 4, and Frying Pan provided free space for local organizations, schools, and others. And, by opening a free public dock, Pier 63 Maritime gave large vessels a site to tie-up, and it helped launch a non-motorized boating movement on the west side. Groups like Manhattan Kayak and New York Outrigger finally had waterfront access to launch their human-powered boats and a place to store them. This once desolate, forbidding area of Manhattan now thrived with a lively community spirit. Over time, the railroad barge and Lightship “Frying Pan” were approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to be stationed in the protected New York Harbor waterway, and the concept of a waterfront public park began to take hold.

Years later, in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f), Lightship “Frying Pan” was written into the Programmatic Agreement that led to the development of Hudson River Park. In 2007, construction of the Park necessitated the move of the Railroad Barge and the Lightship from Pier 63 to the newly-built Pier 66a., where we attached to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Float Transfer Bridge, and waterfront public access became an even greater success.

Lightship "Frying Pan" has led a remarkable life, including a stint at the Panama Canal during World War II, and it was designated a historic site in 1991. It is listed on both the New York State and Federal Register of Historic Places, as it is one of 13 lightships remaining from the more than 100 built. While the ship's exterior has been restored to its original appearance, the interior retains the barnacle-encrusted, sunken ship motif that acknowledges its storied past.

Today, Lightship “Frying Pan,” along with its related business, Pier 66 Maritime, is an extremely popular café that is a Hudson River Park and New York City landmark institution enjoyed by locals and visitors from around the world. The site is also the long-time home to the retired FDNY Fireboat “John J. Harvey,” which has Landmark & National Register Status and is part of New York City folklore for its heroic efforts in fighting the World Trade Center fires on 9/11.

Lightship “Frying Pan” and Fireboat “John J. Harvey” have long provided a public benefit to the local community, and it helped pioneer the way New York City looked at its waterfront. Many of the guiding principles and policies of Hudson River Park Trust for waterfront public access, historic vessels, and public education about the area's rich maritime history were practiced by Frying Pan, Pier 63 and Pier 66 Maritime long before the creation of Hudson River Park. 

Sadly, John Krevey passed away in 2011, but the operation is run by many of the same people he started out with, and the team behind it has worked tirelessly through urban blight, the permitting process, Park construction, and the unique challenges waterfront locations pose to create a successful and popular destination in Hudson River Park. When Superstorm Sandy hit land, which knocked out most of Lower Manhattan and the Park, the highly skilled and dedicated crew kept the location unscathed (except for one broken pane of glass). This kind of expertise and institutional knowledge has enabled us to be a completely self-sustaining operation, one that functions as a high-quality destination for the local community and all Park visitors. For many decades now, Lightship “Frying Pan” has been an important cultural amenity and a beacon to what is possible along the waterfront, and Hudson River Park and New York City are the better for it. 

National Register of Historic Places:

Lightship Frying Pan was designated a historic site in 1991 and is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

John J. Harvey was designated a historic site in 2000 and is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Vessel Specifications:  

Original use: United States Lightship #115

Current use: Dockside attraction. Bought while on the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay at White Haven, MD

Built: 1929  

Dimensions: 133’3” x 29’ x 10’

Displacement: 632 tons  

Construction: Riveted steel 

Speed: 3-4 knots 

Original power: Single 350 HP GE motor powered by four 6-71 Graymarine Diesel generators

Current power: Re-powered in 1989 with a single 370 HP Cummins VT8370M Diesel engine