Tugboats have always interested me. I mean, who doesn’t love a cute, rugged tugboat? After living within walking distance of the East River for years, I became curious about the history of these hardworking boats. The waterways are the city’s sixth borough, with history, industry and recreation that are largely overlooked by most New Yorkers. Profiling the humble tugboat was my way of showcasing this unheralded part of the city.

Set against the backdrop of one of the world’s busiest harbors, “Tugs” is an ode to the hardest working boats on the waterways and the people who pilot them. Once filled with scallywags and salty dogs—rugged seafarers who virtually lived on the water—the marine towing industry in New York City has matured, but the traditions of family, community and hard work persevere. “Tugs” admires the legacy and longevity of these boats and the strength of their position in the country’s history and future.

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Jessica Edwards‘ films have screened at festivals around the world including Sundance, SXSW, Hot Docs and on PBS’s documentary series POV.