Now’s your chance to see New York from the deck of a historic fireboat! The John J Harvey is celebrating its 90th birthday, and to mark the milestone it is offering free public trips from Pier 66-Maritime, at the foot of W26th Street.

Fireboat John J Harvey is a regular part of Hudson River celebrations. All Photos Phil O’Brien.

The excursions will take place on July 17 and 21, August 1 and 7 and are 1-2 hours long, but you’ll have to act fast if you want to reserve a place. Each guest is required to make a $20 refundable deposit that will be returned to you on board.

For the safety of crew and fellow guests, the organizers encourage all adults to be vaccinated. Face coverings are not required on deck, but masks must be worn in enclosed spaces on the boat, including the pilot house and engine room.

The fireboat launched in Brooklyn in 1931, and was named for FDNY pilot John J. Harvey, who died in the line of duty fighting a ship fire. John J Harvey was the first fireboat powered by internal combustion engines and the first that could pump and maneuver simultaneously. She was the largest, fastest fire fighting machine of her time, capable of pumping 18,000 gallons per minute, roughly the equivalent of 20 terrestrial fire trucks. The innovations of her design influenced all subsequent fireboats.

She served and protected NY Harbor for over 6 decades, assisting during such notable fires as the Cunard Line pier blaze in 1932, the burning of Normandie at Pier 88 in 1942, and the potentially disastrous fire on ammunition ship El Estero during World War II.

On September 11, 2001, John J. Harvey was recalled to service by the FDNY and reactivated as Marine Company 2. Alongside the FDNY fireboats Fire Fighter and John D. McKean she pumped water for 80 hours until water mains in lower Manhattan were restored to service.

Fireboat John J Harvey took part in the opening ceremony at Pier 76 in June.

Decommissioned in 1994, Harvey was saved from the scrapyard by a dedicated group of volunteers and restored as an operational museum and education center, offering free public trips in New York Harbor, and attending notable maritime festivals in Waterford and Oyster Bay in NY, and Mystic and New London in CT.

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