On 23 April 1798, a week before his inauguration as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall ,
George Washington made the trip from Elizabeth Town , New Jersey , to Murray’s Wharf, near the foot of Wall Street in Manhattan .
He was borne across the harbor in a spec ial barge that had been built to the order of the Marine Society of New York and rowed by twelve of its members.
On 13 April 1987, at the 2 17th Annual Dinner of the Marine Society, Captain Robert E. Hart,
President of the Marine Index Bureau , announced a project by Mel Hardin , curator of New York Harbor,
to build a replica of Washington’s inaugural barge and to row it across New York Harbor on the 200th anniversary of his first inauguration .
The project was greeted with acclaim,
and has become an official project of the Nationa l Maritime Historical Society, under the chairmanship of Nancy Pouch , Trustee.
The Society plans extensive public educational programs which will encourage
Americans to understand the hopes and fears of their forebears as their first President assumed office.
The Marine Society-without whose help neither the original nor replica could be built-was established by prominent ship masters and pilots of New York in 1770 for the purpose of charity and education.
Plans for the original barge no longer ex ist (if they did) and drawings based on contemporary illustrations
Washington’s Inaugural Barge and written descriptions are be ing prepared by the naval architects of Sparkman & Stephens.
Shown above is the barge as it might have appeared. At a national conference in 1978,
it was recommended that NOAA determine the technical and financial feasibility of the suggested options-which ranged from non-disturbance of the site, to complete recovery of the wreck.
In response, NOAA established the USS Monitor Project whose goal is to develop and implement a master plan for the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.
The Project encourages the participation of other agencies, organizations
and individuals with expertise in cultural resource management, archeology, history, conservation , engineering, museology and fundraisi ng.
Thus far, NOAA has sponsored four expeditions using both divers and manned submersibles.
This summer’s expedition , co-sponsored by NOAA and the Navy, will use the Navy’s unmanned undersea vehi cle, Deep Drone ,
to gather information by remote sensing and photography.
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