5. A “Hellgate Pilot” Was a Necessary Job on the Island

Houses on City Island

From the mid-1800s until 1967, a Hellgate Pilot served an important role on City Island. Due to dangerous water conditions near Hellgate, characterized by fierce tides, whirlpools, and jagged rocks, Hellgate Pilots were required to board ships and guide them down the East River safely towards Manhattan. The Hellgate Pilot House, which still stands at the Consolidated Boat Yard on Pilot Street, was where men stood to watch for water vessels. It serves as a reminder of the Hellgate Pilot Association before it was absorbed by the Sandy Hook Pilot Association in 1967. Today, the Sandy Hook Pilot Association continues to provide pilotage service for the port of New York, New Jersey, the Hudson River, and of course, Hellgate.