New York City’s Graveyard of Abandoned Historic Ships

by Owen James Burke


(Photo: Will Van Thorp)

Between Staten Island and New Jersey is a marsh which can be seen from the New Jersey Turnpike. Just out of sight lies a graveyard of ships dating back to the Second World War and the early 1900s.

In the years following WWII, a salvage yard was developed along Arthur Kill, collecting any old rusty tin can that came their way. People were all too happy bring their old dinghies and barges there to die, but the influx of boats was (and apparently still is) far to great for the ship breakers to keep up with, and has resulted in this disheveled mess of graves.


(Photo: Atlas Obscura)

The most famous set of bones in the yard likely belong to the Abram S. Hewitt (1903-1958), a fireboat which rescued some 300 of the 1,400 passengers aboard the PS General Slocum, a steamship paddleboat that caught fire and resulted in the largest single loss of life in New York until September 11th,2001.

PC-1264, a navy ship, chased German U-boats to protect Allied convoy with one of the two only all African American ship crews of WWII.

Slowly, artists have begun to recognize some artistic integrity in Arthur Kill, and a documentary film on the yard has just been produced and directed by Will Van Dorp, an English professor, and Gary Kane, a former editor with the Associated Press.

Here’s the film’s trailer:


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