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Title Print: The Lower Hudson River from the Erie-Lackawanna Pier in Hoboken. A Wood Engraving by John De Pol, A.N.A. 1975.
Object Name Print
Catalog Number 2014.013.0042
Collection Hoboken Arts & Artists Collection
Credit Museum Collections. Gift of a friend of the Museum.
Scope & Content Wood engraving: The Lower Hudson River from the Erie-Lackawanna Pier in Hoboken.

A Wood Engraving by John De Pol, A.N.A. [Associate, National Academy of Design, 1954; Academician, 1978]
New York, 1975.

Two color wood engraving: 3-3/4" high x 5-15/16" wide on 8-15/16" x 10-7/8" high leaf.
Titled beneath image by artist: The Lower Hudson River. Signed at right below image: JOHN DE POL.
Signed in block at lower right corner: DE POL.

A Keepsake from United States Banknote Corporation. The wood engraving was printed from the original two-color blocks, cut 1973, on Warren’s Lustro Offset Enamel Dull.

Butterscotch cover paper(passe-partout) folder with text; print laid in pocket. See notes for transcription of text.

See notes for descriptive text on Depol series of keepsakes that the United States Banknote Corporation issued.
woodcut / souvenir / limited edition /
Notes Archives 2014.013.0042
Text on printed folder

The Lower Hudson River from the Erie-Lackawanna Pier in Hoboken

A Wood Engraving by John De Pol, a.n.a.

City of ships!
(O the black ships! O the fierce ships!
O the beautiful sharp-bow’d steam-ships and sail-ships!)
City of the world! (for all races are here,
All the lands of the earth make contributions here;)
City of the sea! city of hurried and glittering tides!
City whose gleeful tides continually rush or recede, whirling
in and out with eddies and foam!
City of wharves and stores—city of tall fagades of marble and
Proud and passionate city—mettlesome, mad, extravagant city! ....

Walt Whitman, 1865



Deep in our concrete burrows and warrens, cubby-holed in plastic, aluminum, and acoustic tile, anesthetized by the air conditioner’s hum, and many times windowless so that we cannot gaze up at the vault of sky, the toilers of Manhattan often—even usually—forget that New York has been and is a major port, a city of waters, of wharves, of sailing ships.

South Street, now a major restoration, was, in old photographs, a forest of crisscrossed masts and spars soaring above hulls both clipper-sleek and freighter-squat.

The Battery, like a prow thrust out into the bay, welcomed the early tide of immigrants who washed up on the city in cresting waves.

The ruins of Ellis Island float abandoned in the harbor now, crowded only with echoes.

The Statue of Liberty stands regal but not aloof on her island, faced outward to the ocean.

A city of rivers and islands, harbors and sounds, inlets, creeks, canals, bridges and ferries. A city too much forsaken now by seagulls, the salt air smothered, its foggy nights not mysteriously musical enough with the mournful knell of bell-buoys rocking on the tide and the dark baritone hoot of boat-horns. A city which no longer hears the crack of canvas.

Do we forget our sea-borne history, starting with Hudson’s ship Half Moon ? our commerce that thrived on the busy docks with clatter of cargo, shouts, curses and cheers, whinnying of horses pulling laden drays ? the steamboats on the Hudson, beginning with Fulton’s Clermont ? the old Day Line boats ? the night boats to Albany, to Boston? the yachts ? the regattas ?

The lovely cosmopolitanism of midnight sailings when liners’ names spilled off the tabloid pages as celebrities posed on promenade decks or leaned wind-whipped against railings—the Berengaria, the Ile de France, the Leviathan, the Europa, the Bremen?

In an old Irving Berlin musical revue As Thousands Cheer (Ethel Waters, Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb), there was a number called: The Majestic Sails At Midnight: salutes and farewells, giggles and tears, confetti, champagne, fruit and flowers, high-heeled slippers and extravagant fur collars—what airplane departure can ever evoke that excitement and glamour ?

The busy tugs, those homely water-beetles that nosed and nudged these oceanic Kings and Queens into their piers ?


And it is one of those tugs that John De Pol has depicted here, on a snowy night, when the men aboard must have felt the warm bright solitude of an enclosed and tiny independent world. And once again, John’s own commentary is most appropriate.

“ ..... from the slip which is to the right of the Hoboken Terminal and a thirty-foot walk from the commuter trains which come into the Terminal.

“The tugboat is an Erie one—see the E on the stack. Of course, now it is the Erie-Lackawanna. The tugs were used to tow the freight car barges around to the various ports in the New York area. The freight cars came into the Terminal by locomotive, first steam, then later diesel, and were pushed onto special barges. When they reached Manhattan by tow, they would be shunted off onto West Street, about 38th Street, and run into the large yard there. They would unload onto horse-drawn wagons, later motor-driven trucks, and the products delivered to the various warehouses in the area.

“About a mile from here, on the Jersey side, and down south, is the point where Hendrick Hudson’s Half Moon first landed, near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. As we look across, we can see the lower end of Manhattan, at one time New Amsterdam. There are the two World Trade towers and, if you look closely enough, over the bow of the tug, you will see the Woolworth Building.

“To the right, on the slip which juts out into the river, note the open structure. At the time I made this drawing two years ago, there was a big bronze bell which was used in the old days to warn the river traffic on foggy nights. How it was operated I do not know, but I remember, when I lived on Hudson and Barrow Streets, I could, lying awake on foggy nights, hear the slow clang clang. There was a bell like it across the river at the foot of the recreation pier at Christopher Street. I made sketches of it in the old days. Of course it has been gone now for a long time ”

So much of interest has been gone now, for a long time. But so much else remains, if we will seek it out. And there are still days, sometimes in the Spring, more often in the Fall, when New York recaptures its old blue clarity, when the breeze snaps flags and pennants, when with imagination we can recapture what Whitman celebrated.

Don Wesely

October, 1975


A Keepsake from United States Banknote Corporation The wood engraving was printed from the original two-color blocks, cut 1973, on Warren’s Lustro Offset Enamel Dull.

The folder is printed offset on Weyerhaeuser’s Butterscotch 80# Torino Cover. Set in Goudy Bold and Old Style, this keepsake was produced at Security-Columbian Banknote Company, New York, a division of United States Banknote Corporation.

Other divisions : Rolmor Press, New York;

Security Columbian/New England, Boston.

[end printed text]


Excerpt of series description in exhibition:

John DePol (1913 – 2004): A Memorial Exhibition
Georgetown University, Charles Marvin Fairchild Memorial Gallery

November 1, 2006 - February 28, 2007

The U.S. Banknote Corporation keepsakes

DePol, John, 1913-2004

John DePol began work as a free-lance engraver in 1955. Much of his time was engaged by the Security Columbian Banknote Company (which became known as the United States Banknote Corporation), where he had an office in the former CEO's suite until his official "retirement" in 1978 (see his retirement announcement on the north wall). In collaboration with Donald Wesely, who was employed in the USBC customer service department, the two produced a total of nineteen keepsake editions between 1974 and 1981, with text by Wesely printed on a passe-partout folder and a John DePol wood engraving presented on the opposite side.

In an essay written by Mr. Wesely in 1991, he recalled his association with DePol:

My first official contact, most fleeting and slight, was in 1968, when John supplied an original wood engraving to be used on the front cover of a Graphic Arts Dictionary, compiled for the United States Banknote Corporation, a booklet on which I assisted the editor. I was intrigued and impressed by the difference I saw in John's art, the quality of his achievement, the ingenuity of the pattern, and the arrangement of the elements. And this was in a medium with which I was totally unfamiliar and therefore needed to have explained to me in some detail. From that point on, our association grew....

I remember him approaching me (preoccupied, as I was, with rush proofs and printing), with the suggestion that we might perhaps be able to produce some Keepsakes for the Company. Would I consider supplying texts for his wood engravings? Then, the customer service office of a financial printer could be and usually was a frantic hive, so much so that it often seemed impossible that any order could ever be achieved out of the surrounding tumult and apparent chaos.... But John is not, and never was, easily discouraged.... Ultimately but reluctantly, I agreed. Yes, well, we could give it a try. Perhaps it might prove of interest. Maybe it would work. It did!

The problem for me as a mostly unpublished writer was to compose a lively text to fit in a prescribed space, to find and present some pertinent facts about the subject, and to complement and appreciate what John had accomplished in his engravings. I found this a pleasurable task. The fact that we so often operated under a deadline was more often a stimulant than an obstacle....

All of the ideas originated with John and none would have been realized without his lively determination and complete dedication. This, I believe, is a facet of John's talent of which many of his current admirers are not sufficiently aware: his ability to organize and to inspire....

At the time John decided to retire, we had many more projects outlined, for whose themes he had taken many splendidly evocative photographs, primarily of lower west side Manhattan. I had prepared drafts of texts. John had schematized approach and layout. But unfortunately the working relationship ended. We found ourselves without a "sponsor"....

John De Pol has never ceased fully to employ his creativity. And I remember our "limited partnership" (to borrow a term from financial printing, as the milieu in which we functioned), with great pleasure, and as one of much personal benefit and reward.
People De Pol, John
Date 1975
Year Range from 1975
Year Range to 1975
Search Terms Erie Lackawanna Plaza
Erie Lackawanna
World Trade Center
Hudson River
Caption Print: The Lower Hudson River (from the Erie-Lackawanna Pier in Hoboken)
Imagefile 276\20140130042-5.TIF
Classification Art