Friday, February 25, 2011

The Ferry Boat That Sunk

CROWDED FERRYBOAT SUNK IN COLLISION; Staten Island Boat Northfield Hit by the Mauch Chunk. TERRIBLE PANIC ON BOARD Fleet of Tugs Follows and Aids the Doomed Vessel. NO LOSS OF LIFE REPORTED It Is Thought, However, that Several Persons Must Have Been Drowned -- Some Passengers Injured, but None Dangerously -- Charges of Cowardice Against Men. 

-NY Times Headline

One has to wonder why the Staten Island Ferry has so many crashes in its history. 

The Northfield ferry was pulling out of the terminal at White Hall on June 14, 1901, as it did every other day to make a return trip to Staten Island's terminal in St. George. At this time the ferry was still apart of Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad Company, owned and operated by the B & O railroad. The reason for this was that Staten Island had only become part of the 5 boroughs shortly before hand, and wouldn't give over ownership of the transportation line that ran through the island. The greater New York used the sinking of the Northfield Ferry in their advantage, and shortly there after the line became apart of the city of New York. The explosion of the Westfield ferry was far more tragic with the loss of life and the apparent lack of knowledge some of the crew had. Upon pulling out and starting its ride, it was struck by another ferry called The Mauch Chunk. It was a ferry used by New Jersey at the time, in the line that connected Hoboken to Manhattan. It was 6:00 in the evening when the Northfield started to pull out of her slip at Whitehall, she wasn't even fully into New York Harbor at the time of impact. The wheelsman on the Northfield blew out the whistle twice to try to warn the Mauch Chunk, as he also says he blew the whistle twice before even pulling out of the slip, common practice to warn others of your presence. The other ferry responded with its own whistle and tried to get out of the way or "hook the engine " as reports say. The front of the Northfield met with impact the side of the Chunk. Pretty much demolishing the Northfield, there ending the 38 year run as a ferry boat to Staten Island.

Its a little unclear what exactly happened, the Northfield felt he was on the proper course so he kept moving in to Staten Island, but this is not consistent with the Chunks drivers testimony. The police department insisted that no one was killed, but they where wrong, about 5 people where in fact killed on the Northfield. Some where not discovered until the ferry was inspected by divers the next day, one body washed up on shore in Greenville, NJ, across the New York Harbor a week after the fact. Even though the death toll amoung humans was mostly low, it was not however for the 12 teams of horses that was on board the ship at the time, they where all lost.

Damage control was put into effect as soon as the two boats struck, the cities big fire boat, The New Yorker, arrived on the scene almost immediately to help rescue the 800 people on board. As with most tragedies there is always a hero and in the case of this tragedy the hero was Manuel Fernandez. He was standing in pier 10 at the time and started pulling people out of the water. He pulled a women out of the water and handed her over to a rescue boat. He then grabbed a small child from a women aboard the Northfield and jumped on to the Unity the boat that was picking up survivors. After he safely delivered the baby he jumped back in to the East River to save another, older child. The captain of the boat stayed on the ferry and supervised the evacuation and did not leave the Northfield until water was lapping into the ferries wheelhouse. By this time the Northfield was laid out on the muddy floor of the river, sunken.

The next day when divers where sent down to inspect the damage and raise the boat, they realized that there was no way of saving the Northfield. A week later the ferry was sitting in Brooklyn in a dry dock. The damage was total. She was crushed and cut open and there was no way of fixing her.Her captain, Johnson, was arrested and so was the Chunk's captain the following day. They were arrested and brought in to give their own statements as to what had happened and the reason as to why they had collided to begin with. The state of New York wanted to take over the S.I.R.T so badly and i assume they were using this accident in their favor. The blame was placed on the fact that the Staten Island's ferry boats where not proper boats for what they where being used for. In 1899 it was said in a commitee meeting by Staten Island Chamber of Commerce that "Middleton, Westfield, and Northfield are in no manner, and by no means adequate for the service for which they are intended, being to small, poorly ventilated, and at times ill smelling. The sanitary arrangements on these boats are abdominal". The crash may have happened because the two boats had to cross paths because the Northfield had the slip closer to Jersey where as the Chunk had the one on the other side of the Northfield, making them have to cross ways. This conclusion was thought up by a random New York Times reader, that the New Jersey Transit should have used the first slip, and the S.I.R.T should use the second. It should have been clear after the Northfields sister ship, the Westfield had the same brush with the boat Howard Carolle, under the same circumstances. During the trial, it was frowned upon that the Mauch Chunk kept on its track pulling into Whitehall and did not try to assist the doomed Northfield. The captain dropped off his riders and turned right back around to NJ, making him out of immediate reach of NY. Both captains where suspended for 30 days. But they where a little more easy on Johnson because the Northfield was so old, that her hull was not divided into water tight doors, thus resulting in her sinking. it was said that "Northfield is a very old boat and should have been condemned a long time ago".  Another issue was that the life jackets on the Northfield where hard to get to and passengers complained about this fact, as it caused hysteria. Also the lack of life vests, since there was only 318 on board at any given time, never the less it was still right by law. 

And so that was the end of the sailing of the Northfield ferry.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"She put up a Helleva Fight" - Jessica Tush's Story

Please Join the Jessica Tush Act on FB causes!

"Jessica was an amazing girl who was full of life. Her unfortunate end brought on by her ex-boyfriend is a sad reminder how dangerous domestic violence is. Her trusting nature is what betrayed her, since she was smart enough to break it off with the scum Thomas Paolino. Spread her story and lets not let her death be in vain."

Rest In Peace 
Dec 28th, 1988 - April 2nd, 2008
Jessica Tush

On April 2, 2008 Jessica Tush left her house for work. She worked at the Staten Island Mall at BCBG. When she got out of work her ex-boyfriend, Thomas Paolino, was outside waiting for her. They had broken up prior to this encounter because of his abusive behavior towards Jessica. Its reported that she had came into work with 2 black eyes prior to her murder. Thomas persuaded Jessica to get into his car so that they could go visit a memorial for a friend, Andrew Clark, who had died tragically days earlier in New Jersey in a car crash. That night was his wake and Jessica was to attend it. E-ZPass records show Thomas was in New Jersey around the time of the murder. Its unclear what really went down in the car between them, but its thought that text messages Jessica was sending to her current boyfriend may have sent Thomas into a rage. She was reported missing when friends and family started to worry after she never showed up to the wake, and stopped texting her friends. 
Jessica's parents and her murder
Her body was found, 2 days later, in a shallow grave near the road side memorial for Clark, by hikers. She was found buried in Wharton State Forest in Bass River Township, N.J. It appeared she was strangled and beaten, as she had many bruises. When Thomas was taken in for questioning it was apparent something was not right. His alibi didn't match up with his E-ZPass records, or his cell phone hits. He had scratches and bite marks all over his neck and arms. When asked about this he did not give any reason for the marks on his body. The memorial for Clark was tossed over the lose soil that covered her body. This led investigators to question if Andrew Clark's girlfriend, who lived near by, had something to do with the slaying. His girl friend was driving behind him when he crashed his car into a tree. Hopes that DNA would be found under her nails, would prove where Thomas had gotten his wounds from. The cause of death was determined to be from "asphyxia due to strangulation and sharp force injuries to the neck." By the coroner's report.

Thomas Paolino plead guilty to strangling Jessica Tush, and is facing 23 1/2 years in prison. Is this fair? Not at all. A family is left grieving for their beautiful daughter who is forever 19 years old. Friends are left asking questions and missing a wonderful friend. Her boyfriend is left lonely and haunted by what ifs? While he will be out by the time he is 40 years old. He will move on, possibly get married and have children. Hopefully he will have a daughter, so he can feel what it would be like to lose such a thing in life. Domestic violence lives all around us. It does not discriminate against age, or looks, not even race. It lives everywhere, and young girls go un-educated about the situation. Sure they know that a man should never hit a women, but they can not see the signs in the way he talks or acts or the way he handles situations. Harsh words and controlling everyday life are a form of domestic violence, it is the start of a long road that is painful and can have a devastating outcome such as Jessica's. She is one of many young girls that are killed at the hands of someone who "loves" them.

Jessica Tush's mother has had to endure harsh words from childish kids online, she has had to defend her daughter in this situation, and that is unbelievable: In a comment posted on, Dina Tush also takes issue with one reader's comment suggesting that Jessica Tush caused an argument with Thomas Paolino and that he was defending himself. "Thomas Paolino beat, strangled and stabbed Jessica in the throat possibly multiple times, enough to rip at 3 inch hole out of her throat. He stuffed her in a plastic bag and later threw her in a water filled hole and threw some dirt over her," she wrote under the screenname grievingmom.  How could another young girl even suggest that that be a reasonable explanation for an outcome like Jessica's?

Jessica's brave mother is setting out to keep her daughter alive in the law. The "Danielle DiMedici and Jessica Tush Act," named for the two domestic violence victims, is a law that would make a statewide registry for domestic violence offenders that would be accessible by civilians as well as law enforcement. Sort of like a sex offender registry. The other is the "Jessica Tush Act"-Educational Bil, this will provide New York State schools with curriculum in dating abuse and domestic violence. The causes page I have linked to the top of this post is the link that her mother had set up in hopes of people joining it to get the bill passed. They need 5,000 people to join. Please go there and join, lets break the cycle. 

 in loving memory of the victims lost to domestic violence. <3 if you or anyone you know are being victimized please call: or visit my myspace at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

These Old Streets

A British officer wrote in 1776 about Staten Island: "Surely this country is the Paradise of the world...the inhabitants of this Island are tall, thin, narrow shouldered people, very simple in their manners, know neither Poverty nor Riches, each house has a good farm, and every man a trade, they know no distinction of Persons, and I am sure must have lived very happily till these troubles."

 After doing a lot of research on Staten Island, I kept seeing a lot of the last names in documents matched a few street names that i knew and had seen. So here is a list of street names and a little history about them.

Amboy Rd - Amboy road is one out of nine of the oldest streets on our island. It went from one side of the island straight to the ferry on the other side. It was most known for its straight way to the ferry.

Lovelace - Governor Lovelace had signed a treaty prohibiting the use of Native Americans as slaves

Flagg St. - Named after a famed architect that built extravagent houses in Grasemere.

 Giffords Lane - named after Daniel Gifford, a local commissioner and road surveyor. Great Kills used to be named Gifford before it was changed in 1865

Fingerboard Road - The road once had a large finger-shaped sign pointing the direction to the county courthouse at Richmondtown. And people would say make a turn at the fingerboard. 

Victory Blvd-  Used to be named Richmond Turnpike was built in 1816 

Van Pelt Ave - A well known family and maiden name of  Polly Bodine's victim and sister-in-law, Emeline.

Housman Ave - Last name of the fisherman's family that fell victim to Polly Bodine. Emeline's married name. 

Seguine Ave - Named after descendants of the French Huguenots who were among the South Shore's earliest settlers. This was their last names. 

Yetman Ave . - This street was named for Hubbard R. Yetman, teacher, justice of the peace, state assemblyman, and first Borough Superintendent of Schools in Richmond County. Yetman lived at 5336 Arthur Kill Rd., at the southeast corner of Yetman Ave. The house was built by William Joline, Yetman's father-in-law, ca. 1845. Yetman Ave. was originally mapped as William Street, possibly to honor Joline. In the 1890's, it was popularly referred to as Hogan's Alley. The street was graded and paved in 1896,  more than a year earlier than the town's most important road, Main St.

 Butler Ave.- Named after Daniel Butler, a man who made his living in the Staten Island oyster trade. He lived and owned land on and around the corner of Butler and Amboy Rd.

Hylan Blvd . - Named in honor of John Francis Hylan (1868-1936). He was the Mayor of New York City from 1918 to 1925. Hylan Blvd. was constructed in 1927.  A median, though short-lived, ran down the center of the road from Page Ave. to the Conference House.  And Hylan Blvd. continued to the water's edge, not ending at Satterlee St., where the Pavilion is today.

Fisher Ave.- The Fisher family came to Tottenville in the early 1800's. They owned a few acres of land and built one of their earliest houses that still stands today, to face the Arthur Kill. It was later turned in order to accomadate the newly opened road Fisher ave.. Before the 1940's traffic crossed the railroad tracks on Fisher to take Broadway, also known as today's Arthur Kill, into Richmond Valley.