Waterfront Heroes of New York City

14th People’s Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony at the Waterfront Museum in Red Hook

Waterfront Heroes of New York City

Brooklyn Heights
Red Hook

On Saturday, August 24th from 4pm to 7pm, the Waterfront Museum in Red Hook hosts The People’s Hall of Fame Special Reception to honor 9 Waterfront Heroes of New York City with pomp and circumstance, and a reception featuring sea chanties and seafaring music from Staten Island.

They say that not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they wear waders, wool caps, and rubber raincoats; boat shoes, sunglasses, or life jackets. This exhibit pays homage to the unsung champions of New York harbor, the women and men who help to sustain our working waterfronts, restore historic vessels and other objects destined for the junkyard, and carry on the occupational culture of our waterways so that future generations can learn of New York's crucial maritime heritage.

The People's Hall of Fame is an awards celebration honoring grassroots contributions to New York's cultural life. Taking as its symbol an historic New York subway token, "tokens of our esteem" will be presented to a cohort of individuals who are contributing creatively to the folk culture of New York City. This year's awardees protect our shoreline communities and nautical traditions, and preserve New York's legacy as America's greatest port. Their work deeply impacts the environment, the economy, and the development of the region.

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"Most people don't see or have contact with the working waterfront. It's hard to meet a tugboat captain. It's difficult to get on board a pilot ship, or a visiting tall ship. It's important that we continue to advocate for New York's maritime past to serve as a working part of its present," said David Sharps of the Waterfront Museum

This year's recipients are:

  • Naima Rauam for painting the poetry of the Fulton Fish Market;
  • Ray Keenan and other members of the Sandy Hook Pilots Association for shepherding ships to shore in New York waters;
  • David Sharps, founder of the Waterfront Museum on a barge he personally dredged from the Hudson;
  • Conrad Milster, a steam whistle collector from Brooklyn who started a 50-year New Year's Eve steam whistle blowing tradition in Brooklyn;
  • Adam Green, founder of Rocking the Boat, which works with underserved youth to build boats in the Bronx;
  • Seetha Wickramasuriya, a Staten Island nurse from Tangol, Sri Lanka, honored for her bravery saving a bedridden patient during Superstorm Sandy, and for the traditional kavi songs and poems she wrote about the hurricane;
  • Samir Faraq, founder of Staten Island's Museum of Maritime Navigation & Communication and collector of forgotten maritime paraphernalia;
  • Carolina Salguero, founder and director of PortSide NewYork, for creating a living lab for better urban waterways;
  • Dennis Heaphy, tinsmith at the Statue of Liberty, for preserving a living cultural landmark.

The Waterfront Heroes People's Hall of Fame ceremony will take place on board the Waterfront Museum in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The event will include this great group of harbor heroes, a performance of traditional sea chanties by Bob Wright and Harbortown, and plenty of sea-worthy stories.


One of the last on the water, the Lehigh Valley Barge #79 was built in 1914 for the railroads that worked in the Port of New York. The barge managed to survive the mid-20th century replacement of lighters with container ships, only to nearly molder away in the mudflats below the George Washington Bridge. That’s where David Sharps encountered it. Sharps, who was introduced to the waters of the world as a cruise ship juggler, bought the barge from a pile-driver for $500 in 1985. With the help of friends, Sharps refurbished the vessel into a floating museum and showboat, and moved it to Red Hook, Brooklyn in 1994. The Waterfront Museum receives nearly ten thousand visitors each year.


In 2005, Carolina Salguero founded PortSide NewYork as a maritime center combining the working waterfront, public access, workforce and harbor advocacy, and community development. Programs take place on and off their flagship, the historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN.