The enormous “Goliath” crane is the most obvious feature of Quincy's Fore River district.
Shipbuilding, long a cornerstone of Quincy's economy, began at Fore River in 1884, when Thomas Watson, Alexander Graham Bell's famous assistant, founded the Fore River Engine Company, a one-man producer of engine parts. Bell soon partnered with L. J. Wing and F. O. Wellington to produce first engines for yachts and then entire hulls. In 1899, after procuring the first of many government contracts, the newly reorganized Fore River Ship and Engine Company moved to its present site. At that time, Fore River had the third largest forge in the United States and its own electric plant. In 1913, the shipyard was acquired by Bethlehem Steel and enjoyed prosperity and peak employment of 32,000, thanks to the militarization spurred by two world wars. The sprawling complex of brick, concrete, steel, and corrugated metal structures was built to accommodate the expanding demands of the corporation. In 1963, General Dynamics acquired the shipyard, stepping up its modernization (including construction of the Goliath crane, 1974) to meet Cold War demands for navy cruisers and merchant crafts. General Dynamics won the contract for five maritime prepositioning ships for the navy in the 1980s. When that contract finished, the yard closed; subsequent attempts to rejuvenate the yard have been unsuccessful. Anchored next to the Fore River Bridge, the USS Salem, the former flagship of the Sixth Fleet, houses the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum. MBTA provides catamaran ferry service to Hull, Logan Airport, and central Boston from a dock between the museum and the former shipyard.