This post is about our annual Welcome Back get-together – this time at the FRYING PAN at the Pier 66 (at 26th Street) Maritime Complex in the Hudson River. We’re meeting on WEDNESDAY, SEPT 25th. New and prospective members, please come at noon and current members, please meet us at 1pm. Our raindate will be Friday, September 27th (same times). Bring some cash for lunch and a glass of wine and find the rest of us! This event is on our Sign-Up page – if you can RSVP it would be greatly appreciated so we can offer a number of attendees to the people at the Complex. But if you don’t know now but find out at the last minute that you can make it – PLEASE JOIN US!
Time to think about the year ahead and catch-up after the summer. No essays required but, come on, tell us: “What did you do on your summer vacation?” So, we’re going for very easy this year – you don’t have to bring anything, we don’t have to get a permit from the Parks Department and you don’t have to wander around Central Park to try and find us! And besides, the FRYING PAN, that famous ol’ hunk of a decommissioned Coast Guard lightship is pretty cool in its own peculiar way and is sitting in the Hudson as part of the Pier 66 Maritime Complex at 26th Street. Urban legend has it that for years the FRYING PAN docked at various spots in New York’s waters in order to avoid taxes of some sort. That’s not quite right … but the real story is just as interesting and, of course, revolves around a classic New York character. YA GOTTA LOVE THE FRYING PAN!
The FRYING PAN made it to New York because of a classic, but steely, New York dreamer and doer in the form of one JOHN KREVEY. He moved to NYC in the late 1970’s, from Seattle, and rented space for his electrical contracting business in a warehouse near 23rd St. At the time, far-west Chelsea was no-man’s land: no High Line, no Chelsea Piers, no waterfront park – it was mostly the gritty vestiges of an industrial neighborhood which had historically served longshoremen and the support businesses for the boats and trains which brought goods into the city. He couldn’t believe his luck – he had landed a property on NY’s oddly abandoned waterfront! He then started collecting a somewhat rag-tag collection of oddball watercrafts – one made up of old police barriers tied to 55 gallon oil drums, a sunken wooden cabin cruiser and a couple of old tug boats. But the boat that changed his life, he always said, was the FRYING PAN.
He purchased it in the early 1980’s for $8000. It had been built in 1929 as a floating lightship – a type of boat which had been replaced by lighted buoys or stationary lighthouses. When he bought “The Pan” it was sitting at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. But he and his gang raised it, did a DIY restoration job (honestly, it took years and years to get it painted!) and started to bring it North with long sojourns in Annapolis, Baltimore and Philadelphia. It arrived in NYC in 1990 and became a local floating nomad because there was no place to dock it. “Where’s the FRYING PAN?” was a popular guessing game among NY cognoscentii in the 1990’s as it moved from one place to another – it was docked behind the Statue of Liberty, at a New York State-owned pier, near the 79th Street Boat Basin, at Chelsea piers, at the Intrepid … In the meantime, as all of this was going on, Krevey became an advocate and booster of NYC’s neglected waterfront. The rest of New York just had to catch up with his visionary thinking.
And we did! The Frying Pan became a beloved and endearing symbol for many New Yorkers, one that represented hope, can-do possibility, individualism, creativity and kismet in the middle of New York City. No wonder it is so loved! John Krevey died in 2011 but not before the FRYING PAN was anchored, along with several other ships at the PIER 66 Maritime Complex. Boy, he would have laughed at that very formal-sounding name, but Krevey would also have loved the fact that New Yorkers now have easy and open access to their waterfront. Rest in peace, John – and THANK YOU !