Shinbone Alley is not the first slim walkway to be so-named; there is another one on the north side of Bleeker Street, east of Lafayette Avenue in Manhattan, and it had its name as of 1825. Had the odd appellation something to do with bumping shins on rusty pails? Or getting kicked in the shins? For some reason I thought it might have been a place where you could get your shoes shined…
I’ve often wondered how our Shinbone Alley at Snug Harbor got its name, and if the Snugs named it. Perhaps they also named the Bumboat, the little cafe on Shinbone where they could get a snack, and I would wager that they dubbed the Sailors’ Snug Harbor cemetery “Monkey Hill,” but I have no proof.
Our Shinbone Alley runs behind the front National Historic Landmarks from E Building to A Building. Arching over it are crosswalks that connect the front five former Harbor dormitories to three of the five buildings behind them, which were also dormitories. The shady trees and crosswalks and the patches of grass between the buildings are beautifully designed for gardens and gatherings. We want to bring back the atmosphere that pervaded Shinbone in the days when residents and staff spilled out from the dorms and the kitchen and dining hall on to the shady bluestone walkway to relax.
We worked with Snug Harbor staff, and the new Snug Harbor caterer, Relish, to remove the food-waste dumpster behind our building to a sensible location on the perimeter of the site; its shell will become one of eight new bike racks that are being added to the cultural center.
The Richmond County Savings Foundation gave us a Green Initiative grant with which we could buy plants and make gardens, and the Snug Harbor’s horticulturists designed two new gardens and added plants to the one between our building and Building E. We re-established safe pedestrian access along the Alley by blocking it with an H-bitt from a tugboat that Caddell Dry Dock supplied. Shinbone’s surface and moats will no longer be damaged by truck traffic, and parents of kids in the Childrens Harbor Montessori School are especially happy that it has resumed its role as a thoroughfare for pedestrians only.
Noble Crewfolk and our staff spent a couple of days cleaning Shinbone, weeding the moats, making garden areas, and painting railings, archways, and doors. Our hope is to raise the money we need to repair the walkway surface because it has trip hazards and poor drainage. A yet-unrealized dream is that Snug Harbor will reopen the Bumboat as a coffee shop. Restoring the Alley is the first step we have taken outside the doors of our building to reveal the history of Sailors’ Snug Harbor. If you would like to help with money or time, please let us know! Many thanks to our great Noble Crew!