Editorial: Goliath falls in Quincy

The Patriot Ledger

It’s been more than two decades since shipbuilding took place on the Fore River but any slim remaining hopes of the industry returning to its historic roots in Quincy are now likely dashed with the sale of the iconic giant crane.

Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries, a subsidiary of South Korea-based Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, has purchased the 328-foot-tall Goliath crane and will dismantle it and move it to its Romanian shipbuilding site.

And with it a piece of American history as well as a glorious chapter of Quincy’s past will retreat into the shadows.

The crane, once the world’s largest, has been a Quincy landmark since it was built 33 years ago, towering over the skyline for all who enter the City of Presidents from the south and west, not to mention a beacon for boaters coming in from the east. It can be easily seen from the elevated northern parts of the city as well as the Blue Hills.

While the crane was constructed by General Dynamics to build liquefied natural gas tankers and other large ships in the waning years of the shipyard’s existence, it harkened back to the days when Quincy was central to the United States war effort by building Liberty ships, not to mention home of the ubiquitous “Kilroy was here” character.

Several failed efforts to restart the shipyard gave hope that Quincy could reclaim its heritage but Goliath stood as a rusting reminder that those days were gone with cheaper labor and materials overseas to do the same job.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which took over the shipyard during the harbor cleanup, tried to sell the crane but found no takers.

It was auctioned off in 2004 but stayed in place because of the prohibitive price tag of between $5 million to $15 million to dismantle it.

There have been a few alternative uses explored for it, such as a quiet proposal to build a restaurant atop the 32-story hulk that would offer breathtaking views of the region. Picture a lobster dinner there.

While efforts by past Quincy mayors and history buffs have been organized to keep the crane in its place, the nostalgic feelings have not been universal. It’s doubtful any “Save Goliath” movements will take place or be effective.

Shipyard owner Dan Quirk, who inherited the hulking gantry crane after collecting rent from its owners for a few years, has never wanted to keep Goliath because of the high maintenance costs.

And now, a foreign entity has taken over another piece of Americana.

No one will argue that change is not good or we should retard development in the name of historic reclamation. But when that naked skyline becomes reality, the drive over the Fore River bridge will be forever different.

And memories just a little sadder.