|Unloading coal at Erie, PA. Photo by John E. Baker. Used with permission of the photographer.|
The ship on the right appears to be the Sparrows Point, a 616' Great Lakes freighter owned by Bethlehem Steel. I can't see enough of the pilot house for the ship on the right, but, judging by the mark on the stack, it might be another Bethlehem freighter. They used to haul coal, iron ore, limestone and stone material between different ports on the Great Lakes. A number of these freighters were tied up each season for a winter lay-up in the bay.
Here is a shot of the Grain Elevator, which was slightly west of the photo shown above: http://oldtimeerie.blogspot.com/2012/07/grain-elevator-erie-pa-bayfront-prr.html