Fernandez Shipyard Photos

September 2005

Acclaimed photographer Benedict J. Fernandez went to work at Hoboken’s Bethlehem Steel Shipyard right after high school. His father, who had gone to work at the yard in 1936 and stayed until it closed, got him the job. Ben Fernandez worked alongside Moneybags John, Willy the Beat, and Jesse James. There was an easy camaraderie among the workers, and the shipyard became a home away from home. Fernandez stayed four years at Bethlehem Shipyard working as an apprentice and, later, a full-fledged crane operator, before taking a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. At the time, his great avocation was photography, and on several occasions he returned to the Hoboken shipyard to photograph the men who had become his friends. In 1963, after the Brooklyn Navy Yard closed, his hobby became his profession.

The Bethlehem Shipyard photographs of Ben Fernandez pay homage to the men who worked at the yard with his father. Like Family: Photographs of Hoboken Shipyard Workers by Benedict J. Fernandez is on view in the Upper Gallery of the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson Street, September 18 through November 6.You are invited to attend the opening reception on Sunday, September 18, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Fernandez has been widely published and exhibited, and has received recognition for his outstanding contributions to photography, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. His work can be found in many permanent collections, among them the Museum of Modern Art; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Smithsonian Institution; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; Stadt Museum, Dortmund, Germany; and the International Center of Photography. Countdown to Eternity, his photographic record of Dr. Martin Luther King the year before his assassination, has been exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe. Currently, Fernandez is a senior fellow in photography at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and founder and CEO of Hoboken Almanac of Photography. The Hoboken Almanac Gallery, at 1252 Garden Street, is open by appointment.

This exhibition is made possible by a Block Grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Tom DeGise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.