Saved at the Seawall

Saved at the Seawall is the greatest 9/11 story you’ve never heard. DuLong’s impressive, vital work has preserved one of 9/11’s most dramatic and least-known stories. Now future generations will forever know of the courage and spirit of New York’s mariners.”

Garrett Graff,
The Only Plane in the Sky

Saved at the Seawall Book Cover

“On New York City’s darkest day, the captains and crew of hundreds of boats took to safety as many as half a million survivors of the World Trade Center attack. No one has told this incredible story better than Jessica DuLong. Saved at the Seawall is a moving page-turner.”

— Kenneth T. Jackson,
president emeritus, New-York Historical Society 

Stories from the September 11 Boat Lift

The definitive history of the largest ever waterborne evacuation, when ferries, dinner boats, and other vessels spontaneously converged to rescue nearly 500,000 stranded people from Manhattan on September 11, 2001.

With a new preface and a foreword by Mitchell Zuckoff

Jessica DuLong reveals the dramatic story of how the New York Harbor maritime community heroically delivered stranded commuters, residents, and visitors out of harm’s way.

Even before the US Coast Guard called for “all available boats,” tugs, ferries, dinner boats, and other vessels had sped to the rescue from points all across New York Harbor. In less than nine hours, captains and crews transported nearly half a million people from Manhattan.

Anchored in eyewitness accounts and written by a mariner who served at Ground Zero, Saved at the Seawall weaves together the personal stories of people rescued that day with those of the mariners who saved them.

DuLong describes the inner workings of New York Harbor and reveals the collaborative power of its close-knit community. Her chronicle of those crucial hours, when hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, highlights how resourcefulness and basic human goodness triumphed over turmoil on one of America’s darkest days.

CBS Sunday Morning segment: Historic fireboat John J. Harvey was was called back into service in the aftermath of September 11 to pump water at Ground Zero.

More than ever, we need stories of how people come together, in their shared humanity, to help one another through disasters. This chronicle provides evidence of the reflexive resourcefulness and resounding human goodness that reminds us of the hope and wonder that’s possible on the darkest days.

― Jessica DuLong

Impact Snapshot

  • Look for Jessica DuLong in Spike Lee’s upcoming docuseries on HBO, NYC Epicenters 9/11→2021½, where Saved serves as a primary historical source.
  • Mitchell Zuckoff: Saved filled “a large gap in [his] own knowledge and research.”

Praise

DuLong’s remarkable book … has brought to the surface long-overlooked tales of heroism and sacrifice, recounting the actions and sharing the character of a community response to tragedy as immediate and impressive as any in history. … By taking to the water, a fitting decision considering her own rich history on the Hudson River, DuLong has applied her hard-earned maritime knowledge in the name of honoring the men and women who answered the ancient code that compels mariners to proceed with all speed to a distress call.
— Mitchell ZuckoffFall and Rise

“A waterborne evacuation larger than Dunkirk―in New York Harbor? How come we barely noticed this at the time, and have largely forgotten about it since? Readers of this fast-paced book will not forget it again. Jessica DuLong brings this extraordinary episode to vivid, poignant life, using both literary and maritime expertise.”
― Adam Hochschild, Rebel Cinderella

“Jessica DuLong takes a deep dive into what took place on 9/11 in the waters surrounding the World Trade Center Towers. The horrific stories she shares remain hopeful and inspiring. Saved at the Seawall is a compelling read and shows humanity at its best.”
— Ann L. Buttenwieser, NYC Waterfront Historian

“In this beautifully written and compassionate account, infused with dread and wonder, DuLong delivers meticulous reporting, human-scale and panoramic, that reframes 9/11. This enheartening chronicle of endurance and kindness, as wonderfully engineered and brilliantly executed as the waterborne rescue itself, proffers an evidence-based and hopeful view of humanity.”
Mark Kramer, Founding Director, Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism, Harvard University

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