General Ship – Trip 1

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General Ship & Engine Works was founded by Byron Carl Hedblom in East Boston at the beginning of the Great Depression. Mr. Hedblom had, coincidentally (at least as far as this site is concerned), been an employee of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation before a dispute with management caused him to part ways with his former employer. General Ship acquired its first client in 1932 when the shipyard was tasked with converting the burned out shell of the former Boston Floating Hospital into an oil tanker.

This drydock facility was formerly known as Dry Dock 4 and was part of the South Boston Naval Annex. Building 16 was also a part of this complex. Piers 5 and 6, including the dry dock facility, were leased to General Ship by the state run entity the Economic Develop and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) in 1981. Years after the facility closed, in 2006, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced that Boston City Hall would be relocated to Dry Dock 4. Obviously, these plans were eventually abandoned. The primary reason the plan to relocate city hall failed was because it was a Ridiculously Stupid Idea which would cost a lot of money.

Having a history with salt water and boats and having spent time checking out the old dry docks in the Charlestown Navy Yard as a kid, I could not have been more revved up to actually get down inside of an empty dry dock and (hopefully) to climb one of the cranes. Weeks passed and countless random life-circumstances prevented me from getting to my target until finally I was able to break away one gorgeous February day to move on my target. The ice at the bottom of the (mostly) empty dry dock was thick enough to walk on and I had an incredible time exploring the mammoth concrete hole in the water. With the stress of the economic downturn and ambient life pressures weighing heavily on my mind I even decided to climb the outermost crane during daylight hours. I nearly had a run in with the harbor patrol as a result, but fortunately luck was on my side.