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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 People on the Move Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 Americans Adopt the Auto Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction New York Connected The Oak Port Traffic
6: The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s

The Oak

By the 1920s, waterborne traffic in New York Harbor involved hundreds of vessels and tens of thousands of people a day. Their safe passage depended on maintenance of the harbor’s aids to navigation. This was the job of the crew aboard the U.S. Lighthouse Service tender Oak, whose engine room is seen below.

The Oak’s home port was Staten Island. Its 4 officers and 23 crew provided supplies, fuel, mail, and transportation to area lighthouses and lightships. They also positioned, painted, and serviced the harbor’s network of buoys, fog signals, and beacons.

Oak in harbor, profile view
Oak in harbor, profile view
Crewmen aboard the Oak shoveling coal
Crewmen aboard the Oak shoveling coal

Crew members aboard the buoy tender Oak shoveled a lot of coal. Not only did they have to feed the engine’s coal-fired boilers, they also delivered coal to lighthouses and lightships.

Illustration of the location of the engine room
Profile view of the U.S. Lighthouse Service buoy tender Oak, showing the location of the engine room.
Illustration of the location of the engine room
Oak engine room
Oak engine room

The engine and room from the U.S. Lighthouse Service (later U.S. Coast Guard) buoy tender Oak. The 750-horsepower, triple-expansion steam engine was installed in the ship when it was built in 1921.

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