“From the Bridge”

Half Moon Bay from “Seawater One

This is not about California, rather the Half Moon Bay in Hoboken, New Jersey. It’s a little known fact, but Hoboken, the Mile Square City, was originally an island in the Hudson River. Of course, its eastern boundary was the Hudson River, but on its western side, the river ran into tidal lands, described before, that extended along the base of the cliffs of the Palisades. Named after his ship, Half Moon Bay, north of Hoboken was where Henry Hudson anchored his ship. The photograph showing “Heavy Frigates at Anchor,” identified to be in Half Moon Bay, shows a sailing vessel that appears to be the USS Constitution, with her decks protected from the elements by a canvas awning. It is recorded that at the outbreak of the Civil War the USS Constitution was relocated farther north because of threats made against her by Confederate sympathizers. Several companies of Massachusetts Volunteer soldiers were stationed aboard her for her protection when she was towed to New York Harbor, where she arrived on April 29, 1861. It cannot be verified, however from my research the other ship in the photograph could well have been the USS Constellation. A third frigate only shows her rigging and cannot be identified. Originally, on March 27, 1794, the United States Congress authorized six similar frigates to be constructed at a cost of $688,888.82.

The tidal lands with cattails and river water were filled in at the turn of the 20th Century. Without any concern regarding the ecology, this bay which was used by nesting birds and had served as a protected anchorage, became low lying flatlands. Most of the fill used was from dredging, ballast, dunnage and even garbage. Once filled in, it became the site of the Maxwell House Coffee Company, the Tootsie Roll factory, Todd’s Shipyard, and the Erie railroad yards in Weehawken. The flats were used as a holding area for railroad cars waiting to cross on barges to the eastern side of the river. It also became the location of the western entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.

Heavy Frigates at Anchor in Half Moon Bay


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