Young maritime historian makes history
Byron Huart has been a member of the independent press corps for over eight years reporting on celebrity, comic book and pop culture events in the New York Metro area and Philadelphia since 2007. However, what makes Huart unique is his passion for ships. His expertise has allowed him to create a niche as the sole African-American maritime historian that hails from the millennial generation.
He has captured his passion in pictures in the new exhibit, “City of Ships: A Photo Exhibition by Byron Huart” openinig May 27 at the National Lighthouse Museum, 200 The Promenade at Lighthouse Point, Staten Island, N.Y. The exhibition runs through July 1.
“I consider myself the underdog, and it is very difficult,” said Huart, 28. “People take a second look at me and are very surprised to see that a person like me is very interested in this stuff. The only people that I have seen of color are travel agents. I am very happy that I have broken a lot of boundaries.”
Huart is the U.S. correspondent and New York City branch founder of Liveboat Italy, an Italian-based cruise and travel publication that covers various events and topics of the cruise industry. Since its founding in 2009, Huart in cooperation with Liveboat Italy founder Rosalba Scarrone founded the Liveboat USA branch, thus expanding the site’s demographics to the American travel market.
For the past six years, Huart has effectively spearheaded the New York City and East Coast area travel events coverage and has effectively produced over 200 video features, thousands of photographs and numerous articles featured in publications such as Maritime Matters and Cruise Business Review.
In 2015, PowerShips magazine’s 75th anniversary edition focused on Huart’s work as a professional photographer and travel journalist. “In Powerships, I am the first young African American to be honored in a magazine like that with an eight-page feature,” explained Huart. “It is important because I represent the future, and I want to inspire more young [people] to go out there and do what I do. It’s progressive and it is something that I do because I have a passion for it. It is a change and it is different in an industry that is mostly dominated by elderly Caucasians. You don’t see young African Americans out doing this because they have other interests. The mission I’ve embarked on is bigger than going out there and taking pictures of ships: it’s documenting history that no one is willing to go out and do.”
While Huart has traveled the globe documenting ships new and old, a 63-year-old ship docked at Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia since 1996 holds a particular fascination for him. The SS United States is a luxury passenger liner built in 1952 operated uninterrupted in transatlantic passenger service until 1969. Built at a cost of $79.4 million ($724 million in today’s dollars) the ship is the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the U.S. and the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction. Her construction was subsidized by the U.S. government, since she was designed to allow conversion to a troopship should the need arise.
“I’ve visited the ship, toured it, documented and photographed the ship many times,” said Huart. “Whenever I am in Philly, I always go down to photograph her at sunrise or sunset because I consider the SS United States a ship that has cheated death many times. I am just surprised that it has survived that long …The SS United States specifications are approximately 53,000 tons and her length is 990 feet long. The reason the ship is worth saving is because the ship was over-built. She was built at top-secret specifications for the United States-Soviet Union war that never came. She was meant to be both a passenger ship and convert into a troop ship to carry 10,000 troops and go 40 knots and survive, then, the weapons of the time. The ship was built like a battleship. They could never build a ship like that again. I believe she deserves a second chance at life — she was American built and there will never be another ship like her again.”
For more information on “City of Ships-A Photo Exhibition by Byron Huart”, visit lighthousemuseum.org.