79th Street Boat Basin



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The 79th Street Boat Basin is a marina located in the Hudson River on the Upper West Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan, on Riverside Park at the foot of West 79th Street. Maintained and operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, it is the only facility in the city that allows year-round residency in boats.

The 79th Street Boat Basin, first proposed in 1924, was constructed in 1937, during the tenure of Robert Moses as Parks Commissioner, to offer a place for boats to dock during the summer, as part of the grand architectural multi-level entry and exit from the Henry Hudson Parkway under the name of the "79th Street Grade Crossing Elimination Structure". The multi-level structures was designed by Gilmore David Clarke. The Works Projects Administration provided $5.1 million for the project, which included an underground parking garage (still functioning) and a restaurant as well as the marina. By the 1960s, though the restaurant was long gone, the majority of slips were occupied by year-round boaters.
In 1979, the city sought to cancel a 1977 concession agreement with Nichols Yacht Yards to operate the marina, claiming that Nichols had underreported revenue and had acted as an "absentee slumlord". Boat owners would manage the marina until a suitable operator would be found. Though Nichols obtained an injunction blocking the dismissal in December 1979, the firm's operation of the facility ended in 1982, with Nichols having spent $250,000 in legal fees to battle the city and counter a rent strike by boat owners.
In 1992, a five-year agreement was signed with boaters and the city, tying increases of nearly 25% in docking fees to improvements in facilities at the marina, such as new docks and electrical lines. By 1996, year-round residents had complained that the 18-month long project, implemented at a cost of $1.4 million, had been done in shoddy fashion.
The city stopped issuing new year-round 79th Street Boat Basin permits in 1994, seeking to make space available for seasonal boaters among the basin's 116 slips. After complaints were received, the Parks Department agreed to an increase to 52 year-round spots, which start at a yearly fee of $5,000, based on the size of the boat. By May 2009, the Department will require that all boats be seaworthy. As of February 2008, there were 19 boats that were considered unseaworthy and that would need to made operational "in case of an emergency evacuation".
Year-round residents includes Mad Magazine writer Dick DeBartolo who uses a boat as his office. Malcolm Forbes, Aristotle Onassis, Mario Puzo and Frank Sinatra have all used the 79th Street Boat Basin to moor their boats. In the 1960s, Roy Cohn docked his 95-foot (29 m) yacht here, and used it to entertain the city's political leaders.
Services

The 79th Street Boat Basin is also used as a launch site for kayaks, canoes and sailboats. The Hudson River sloop Clearwater often docks here, as part of its mission of informing the public about environmental and pollution issues in the Hudson River.
The granite and fieldstone open rotunda surrounded by a vaulted Guastavino tiled arcade overlooks the marina, and is the site of the open-air O’Neals’ West 79th Street Boat Basin CafĂ©.
As of May 2008, seasonal docking fees are $108 per linear foot (or a minimum of $2,700) for the summer (May 1 to October 31) and $88 per linear foot (or a minimum of $2,200) during the winter (November 1 to April 30). Total dock fee revenue was over $240,000 in 2007, with more revenue taken in from the higher fees paid for part-time boaters. As of February 2008, there was a waiting list of 450 boaters seeking part-time docking privileges during the summer.
A boat pump-out system connects directly to boats to allow for sewage disposal. Along with a fresh-water line system, the service is provided at no additional cost by the Parks Department. All other services — including electricity, telephone, television and Internet access — must be paid for by boat owners, individually.
Filming / Movies at 79th Street Boat Basin:
The 79th Street Boat Basin has been a popular filming location. The Park's Department's web page for the basin even lists details for obtaining film permits among things to do at the marina. The 1998 film You've Got Mail has Tom Hanks and his relatives living on yachts in the 79th Street Boat Basin.