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"Tugboats and Shipyards: The Russells of New York Harbor, 1844-1962"

by Hilary Russell

This 157-page recollection includes 140 photographs, illustrations, and maps, genealogy, and index. 

Beginning with his great-grandfather’s sail lighterage business, boatbuilder and author Hilary Russell, Jr. chronicles the growth of the Russell family’s businesses from 1844 to 1962. Based at Hunters Point, Queens, along Newtown Creek where it built and launched its own tugs, and operating from New York Harbor up through the Great Lakes and along the coast, Russell Brothers Towing lived up to its motto, “We tow anything, anytime, anywhere.” In the first half of the 20th century, its third generation took the company to its height and expanded the family’s role in shipbuilding.


The chapter “Captains’ Tales” relates captains’ memories of everything from daily life on the boats, to stories of the bars and brothels along the canals and life-threatening accidents. Along the way Russell brings his family alive—fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters: the full lives and remarkable accomplishments of the three generations of watermen and the often beautiful, sometimes original, evolving forms of the craft that objectified the family’s work.


Paperback: $27 (plus $4 shipping)

Hardcover: Out of Print


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Berkshire Boat Building School 

P.O. Box 578, Sheffield, MA 01257

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