Port of New York and New Jersey

Port of New York and New Jersey

The Port of New York and New Jersey comprises the waterways in the estuary of the New York-Newark metropolitan area with a port district encompassing an approximate area within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The system of navigable waters along 650 miles (1,050 km) of shoreline in the vicinity of New York City and northeastern New Jersey is considered one the finest natural harbors in the world.[1] The port is by tonnage the third largest in the United States and the busiest on the East Coast.[2][3][4] In 2010 4,811 ships entered the harbor carrying over 32.2 million metric tons of cargo valued at over $175 billion [5]

The Port of New York and New Jersey grew from the original harbor at the convergence of the Hudson River and the East River at the Upper New York Bay.
Statue of Liberty frontal 2.jpg



Bodies of water

The Atlantic Ocean is to the southeast. The sea at the entrance to the port is called the New York Bight which lies between the peninsulas of Sandy Hook and Rockaway. In Lower New York Bay and its western arm Raritan Bay, ocean-going vessels orient themselves for passage to the east into Arthur Kill or to the north to The Narrows. To the east lies the Rockaway Inlet which leads to Jamaica Bay. Sometimes called by the name of the bridge which spans it, the Verrazano Narrows strait connects to the Upper New York Bay. Traditionally called New York Harbor, the Upper Bay lies at the mouth of the Hudson River which is sometimes called, particularly in navigation, the North River. Large ships are able to travel upstream to the Port of Albany-Rensselaer. To the west lies Kill van Kull, the strait leading to Newark Bay, fed by the Passaic River and Hackensack River, and the northern entrance of Arthur Kill. The Gowanus Canal and Buttermilk Channel are entered from the east. The East River is a broad strait which travels north to Newtown Creek and the Harlem River, turning east at Hell Gate before opening to Long Island Sound, which provides an outlet to the open sea.


Deepening of Kill van Kull


The port consists of a complex of approximately 240 miles (386 km) of shipping channels as well as anchorages and port facilities.[7][8] Most vessels require pilotage[9][10][11] and larger vessels require tugboat assistance for the sharper channel turns. The natural depth of the harbor is about 17 feet (5 m), but it had been deepened over the years, to about 24 feet (7 m) controlling depth in 1880.[12] By 1891 the Main Ship Channel was minimally 30 feet (9 m). In 1914 Ambrose Channel became the main entrance to the Harbor, at 40 feet (12 m) deep and 2,000 feet (600 m) wide. During World War II the main channel was dredged to 45 feet (14 m) depth to accommodate larger ships up to Panamax size. Currently the Corps of Engineers is contracting out deepening to 50 feet (15 m), to accommodate Post-Panamax container vessels, which can pass through the Suez Canal.[13][14] This has been a source of environmental concern along channels connecting the container facilities in Port Newark to the Atlantic. PCBs and other pollutants lay in a blanket just underneath the soil.[15] In June 2009 it was announced that 200,000 cubic yards of dredged PCBs would be "cleaned" and stored en masse at the site of the former Yankee Stadium, as well as at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.[16] In many areas the sandy bottom has been excavated down to rock and now requires blasting. Dredging equipment then picks up the rock and disposes of it. At one point in 2005 there were 70 pieces of dredging equipment working to deepen channels, the largest fleet of dredging equipment anywhere in the world.

Jurisdiction and regulation

The Waterfront Commission was created in 1953 to prevent racketeering.

Responsibilities within the port are divided among all levels of government, from municipal to federal, as well as public and private agencies.

Established in 1921, the bi-state Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in addition to overseeing maritime facilities is responsible for the vehicular crossings and the rapid transit system between New York and New Jersey, several of the region's airports, as well as other transportation and real estate development projects.[17] The Port Authority maintains its own police force, as does the Waterfront Commission, created in 1953 to investigate, prosecute, and prevent criminal activity.[18] The United States Army Corps of Engineers (involved in harbor maintenance since about 1826 when Congress passed an omnibus rivers and harbors act)[19][20] is responsible for bulkhead and channel maintenance.[19][20] The United States Coast Guard deals with issues such floatable debris,[21] spills, vessel rescues, and counter-terrorism.[22] Both states, and some municipal governments, maintain maritime police units, while the United States Park Police monitors federal properties. The National Park Service oversees some of the region's historic sites, nature reserves, and parks. As a port of entry with sections that are foreign trade zone,[23] the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regulate international imports and passenger arrivals, and the "green lane" program, in which trusted shippers have fewer containers inspected.[24]

In March 2006, some of the passenger facilities management was to be transferred to Dubai Ports World.[25] There was considerable controversy over security and ownership by a foreign corporation, particularly Arabic, of a U.S. port operation, this in spite of the fact the operator was the British based P&O Ports,[26] DPs World later sold P&O's American operations to American International Group's asset management division, Global Investment Group for an undisclosed sum.[27]

Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, the Teamsters and the International Longshoremen's Association assist and represent some of the port's mariners and dockworkers.[28]

Historical overview

New York Harbor at Upper Bay:
Manhattan (left), Brooklyn (top) and Jersey City (bottom)
Ellis Island (left) and Liberty Island (right), Governors Island (the largest at center)

The estuary was originally the territory of the Lenape, a seasonally migrational people who would re-locate summer encampments along its shore and use its waterways for transport and fishing. Many of the tidal salt marshes supported vast oyster banks which would remain a major source of food for the region until the end of the 19th century by which time contamination and landfilling had obliterated most of them.[29] The first recorded European visit was that of Giovanni da Verrazzano who anchored in The Narrows in 1524. For the next hundred years the region was visited sporadically by ships on fishing trips and slave raids. European colonialization began after Henry Hudson's 1609 exploration of the region with the establishment of New Amsterdam, the capital of the Dutch province of New Netherland at the tip of Manhattan. The British colonial era saw a concerted effort to expand the port in the triangular trade between Europe, Africa, and North America with a concentration of wharves along the mouth of the East River. After the Battle of Brooklyn, the British controlled the harbor for the duration of American Revolutionary War and prison ships housed thousands at Wallabout Bay. In the early 19th century the Erie Canal (often used for grain) and Morris Canal (mostly for anthracite), gave the port access to the American interior, leading to trans-shipment operations, manufacturing, and industrialization. The invention of the steam engine led to expansion of the railroads and vast terminals along the western banks of the Hudson River complemented by extensive network of ferries and carfloats, with a large cluster along the Harlem River. The era of the ocean-liner, before and after the turn of the century, led to the creation of berths at North River piers and Hoboken.[30] This coincided with the immigration of millions, processed at Castle Clinton and later at Ellis Island, some staying in the region, other boarding barges, ships, and trains to points across the United States.[31] In 1910, the port was the busiest in the world.[32] During the World Wars the waterfront supported shipyards and military installations such as the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and Brooklyn Navy Yard, and played an important role in troop transport. The mid century also saw the construction major highways such as the Belt Parkway, East River Drive, and the Major Deegan Expressway, along parts of the shoreline. The era of the longshoreman captured in the classic film On the Waterfront, faded by the 1970s as much of the waterfront became obsolete due to changing transportation patterns. The nation's first facility for container shipping, which became the prototype, opened in 1958. Expanded intermodal freight transport systems and the Interstate Highway System effected a shift to new terminals at Newark Bay.[17] Since the 1980s parts of waterfront in the traditional harbor have been being redeveloped to include public access to the water's edge with the creation of linear park greenways such as Hudson River Park, Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, and Brooklyn Bridge Park.[33]

Port Newark looking northeast across the Newark Bay

Container terminals

There are four container terminals in the port, the combined volume of which makes it the largest on the East Coast, third busiest in the United States,[34] and 20th world-wide. Terminals are leased to different port operators,[35] such as A. P. Moller-Maersk Group, American Stevedoring,[36] NYCT[37] and Global Marine Terminal[38]

In June 2010, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agree to purchase from Bayonne 128 acres (0.52 km2) at MOTBY, indicating that additional container port facilities would be created.[39] The agency is expected to develop a terminal capable of handling the larger container ships to be in service once the new, wider Panama Canal opens in 2014, some of which will not pass under the Bayonne Bridge at the Kill van Kull.[40] Studies are underway to either replace or raise the bridge.[41]

Bulk cargo and marine transfer

While most consumer goods are transported in containers, other commodities such as petroleum and scrap metal are handled at facilities for marine transfer operations, bulk cargo and break bulk cargo throughout the port, many along its straits and canals. At some locations water pollution has led to inclusion on the list of Superfund sites in the United States.

Car float and Cross Harbor Tunnel

NYNJ Rail western end

At one time nearly 600,000 rail cars were transferred annually by barge between the region's extensive rail facilities. Today approximately 1,600 are "floated" on the remaining car float in the port. The New York New Jersey Rail, LLC transfers freight cars across the Upper Bay between the Greenville Yard in Jersey City and the Bush Terminal Yard in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.[43] At the Greenville end CSX Transportation operates through Conrail's North Jersey Shared Assets Area along the National Docks Secondary. At Brooklyn end connections are made to the New York and Atlantic Railway's Bay Ridge Branch and the South Brooklyn Railway. The 2.5-mile (4.0 km) crossing takes approximately 45 minutes. The equivalent truck trip would be 35 to 50 miles (80 km) long.[44]

Freight rail has never used the New York Tunnel Extension under the Hudson Palisades, Hudson River, Manhattan, and East River due to electified lines and lack of ventilation. Overland travel crosses the Hudson River 140 miles (225 km) to the north using a right of way known as the "Selkirk hurdle." The Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel is a proposed rail tunnel under the Upper Bay. The western portal would be located at Greenville Yard, while the eastern portal is undetermined and a source of controversy.[45]

In May 2010, the Port Authority announced that it would purchase the Greenville Yard and build a new barge-to-rail facility there, as well as improving the existing rail car float system. The barge-to-rail facility is expected to handle an estimated 60,000 to 90,000 containers of solid waste per year from New York City, eliminating up to 360,000 trash truck trips a year. The authority's board authorized $118.1 million for the overall project.[46] The National Docks Secondary rail line is being upgraded in anticpated expansion of volumes.

Cruise terminals

Cruise terminal on the Hudson

The golden age of the North Atlantic ocean-liner lasted from the end of the 19th century to the post World War II period after which innovations in air-travel became commercially viable. Many berths for the great ships which lined the North River (Hudson River) more or less abandoned by the 1970s. Nowadays most travel is recreational. While many cruises are to points in the Caribbean there are also ships calling at the port which sail transatlantically and to the Southern Hemisphere, notably RMS Queen Mary 2. The passenger cruise ship terminals in the port are located in the traditional, or inner harbor.

Ferries and sightseeing

NY Waterway ferry approaches the Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal
New York Water Taxi ferries moored at Erie Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn

There has been continuous ferry service between Staten Island and Lower Manhattan since the 18th century. Travelling across the Upper Bay between South Ferry and St. George Ferry Terminal, the free Staten Island Ferry transports on average 75,000 passengers per day.

Service on the East River ended in the early 20th century and on the Hudson River in the 1960s. It has been restored and grown significantly since the 1980s providing regular service to points in Manhattan, mostly below 42nd Street. Major terminals are Hoboken Terminal, Battery Park City Ferry Terminal at World Financial Center, Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal, Weehawken Port Imperial, Pier 11 at Wall Street, West Midtown Ferry Terminal, and the East 34th Street Ferry Landing. There also are numerous ferry slips serving one route only, including the historic Fulton Ferry. In addition to regular and rush hour routes there are excursions trips and seasonal service to Gateway National Recreation Area beaches. Sightseeing boats circumnavigate Manhattan or make excursions into the Upper New York Bay.[50]

Battery Park City is one of many sites throughout the port built on landfill

Landfill and ocean dumping

Channelization and landfilling began in the colonial era, and continued well into the 20th century. Early materials were shellfish and other refuse, and later construction debris from projects such as the NYC Subway and Pennsylvania Station. Rubble from the bombing of London was transported for ballast during WW2. New land has been created throughout the port, including large swaths that are now Battery Park City, Ellis Island, Liberty State Park, Flushing Meadows – Corona Park and the Meadowlands Sports Complex. For many years, processed sewerage sludge was hauled by tugboat and barge to a point 12 miles (19 km) offshore in the Atlantic until ocean dumping was banned in 1992.[62] Barges were also used to transport waste to Fresh Kills Landfill, the world's largest, which operated from 1948 to 1991. Both operations were known to be detrimental to Long Island and Jersey Shore beaches, notably the 1987 Syringe Tide.[63][64]

Lights and lighthouses

Sandy Hook Light, the oldest continuously operating and standing lighthouse in the United States
West Bank Light
Stepping Stones Lighthouse

There are both historic and modern lighthouses throughout the port, some of which have been decommissioned[65][66]

Tourism and recreation

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis island recall the era of transatlantic immigration to America

Harbor-related historic sites, promenades, nature preserves within the port district include:

See also


  1. ^ "Port in a Storm: The Port of New York in World War II", Joseph F. Meany Jr. & al.,NY State Museum, 1992-1998.
  2. ^ American Association of Port Authorities (2008), Port Industry Statistics, http://www.aapa-ports.org/Industry/content.cfm?ItemNumber=900&navItemNumber=551, retrieved 2020-05-01 
  3. ^ Lipton, Eric (2004-11-22). "New York Port Hums Again, With Asian Trade". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/22/nyregion/22port.html. 
  4. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/06/19/060619fa_fact_finnegan
  5. ^ Walsh, Kevin J., "The Port of New York and New Jersey, a Critical Hub of Global Commerce", Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/gcaptain/2011/10/25/the-port-of-new-york-and-new-jersey-a-critical-hub-of-global-commerce/, retrieved 2011-10-27 
  6. ^ http://www.dredgingtoday.com/2010/11/23/dredging-operations-to-continue-in-kill-van-kull-usa/
  7. ^ Chapter 11, New York Harbor and Approaches, Coast Pilot 2, 35th Edition, 2006, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA.
  8. ^ US Army Corps of Engineers map of channels
  9. ^ Sandy Hook Pilots
  10. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1968/09/14/1968_09_14_135_TNY_CARDS_000292437
  11. ^ Wertenbaker, William (September 14, 1968). "Reporter at Large". Teh Sandy Hook Pilots. The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1968/09/14/1968_09_14_135_TNY_CARDS_000292437. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  12. ^ Interview with Kate Ascher on her book The Works: Anatomy of a City, in Gotham Gazette, Feb. 2006.
  13. ^ Why Deepen the Port?, USACE.
  14. ^ Dredging Fleet Deepening NY/NJ Harbor, PortViews, Vol. 2, No. 3 October 2003, PANYNJ.
  15. ^ Dredging In New York Harbor -- Economy vs. Environment?, Gotham Gazette, April 2006.
  16. ^ City Dumping Tons of Possibly Toxic Sludge in Parks, Elsewhere in City, the Village Voice, June 22, 2009
  17. ^ a b History of the Port Authority
  18. ^ Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor (WCNYH).
  19. ^ a b Controlling Depth Reports for navigation channels, USACE
  20. ^ a b Chapter 3, River and Harbor Improvement, History of the Waterways of the Atlantic Coast of the United States, Publication Number NWS 83-10, January 1983, USACE.
  21. ^ Floatable Debris, accessed 2010-05-01
  22. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Sector New York Homepage.
  23. ^ Foreign Trade Zone 49
  24. ^ The Docks of New York, The New Yorker, June 19, 2006.
  25. ^ Berkey-Gerard, Mark; Arnow, Pat (March 2003). "New York's Port, Beyond Dubai". Gotham Gazette. http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/waterfront/20060313/18/1787. Retrieved 2007-02-19. 
  26. ^ Fact Sheet on Acquisition of P&O Ports by DP World, American Association of Port Authorities, 2006.
  27. ^ King Jr., N.; Hitt, G. (2006-12-11). "Dubai Ports World Sells U.S. Assets". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116584567567746444.html. 
  28. ^ The RICO Trusteeships after Twenty Years, 2004, ABA, republished by Laborers for JUSTICE. US v. Local 560, et al., Civil Action No. 82-689, US District of New Jersey, February 8, 1984.
  29. ^ Kurlansky, Mark (2006). The Big Oyster. New York: Random House Trade paerpbacks. ISBN 978-0-345-47639-5. 
  30. ^ Working Waterfront
  31. ^ Cunningham, John T. (2003). Ellis Island: Immigration's Shining Center. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738524283. http://books.google.com/books?id=OyL6JatN5KwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Island+of+Hope,+Island+of+Tears&source=gbs_book_similarbooks#v=onepage&q=Island%20of%20Hope%2C%20Island%20of%20Tears&f=false. 
  32. ^ "WATER FRONTAGE AROUND NEW YORK; Values and Needs for Better Shipping Facilities Explained by Floyd S. Corbin". The New York Times. 1910-04-03. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50814F63F5417738DDDAA0894DC405B808DF1D3. 
  33. ^ Santora, Marc (2010-11-05). "New York's Next Frontier: The Waterfront". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/realestate/07cov.html?pagewanted=3&sq=sixth%20borough&st=cse&scp=15. 
  34. ^ PANYNJ Container Shipping
  35. ^ http://www.panynj.gov/port/ocean-shipping-schedules.cfm PANYNJ Ocean shipping
  36. ^ http://www.asiterminals.com/
  37. ^ *New York Container Terminal, Inc.
  38. ^ http://www.global-terminal.com/t3/index.php?id=glbl_index
  39. ^ http://www.nj.com/bayonne/index.ssf/2010/06/bayonne_board_votes_to_sell_la.html
  40. ^ http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_stories_home/8990036/article-Will-open-a-port--not-new-housing-BLRA-sells-waterfront-property-to-Port-Authority-for--235M-?instance=bayonne_story_left_column
  41. ^ http://mcmahon.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=687:mcmahon-requests-recovery-act-funds-for-bayonne-bridge&catid=77:press-releases&Itemid=194
  42. ^ http://www.seaportsinfo.com/panynj/portfacilities/?page=southbrooklyn
  43. ^ NYNJ Railroad
  44. ^ NYRR 10-K SEC filing for 2003
  45. ^ http://www.crossharborstudy.com/
  46. ^ "PORT AUTHORITY BOARD APPROVES PURCHASE AND REDEVELOPMENT OF GREENVILLE YARDS, INCLUDING A BARGE-TO-RAIL FACILITY TO TAKE TRUCKS OFF THE ROAD" (Press release). PANYNJ. May 18, 2010. http://www.panynj.gov/press-room/press-item.cfm?headLine_id=1281. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  47. ^ Cape Liberty Cruise Port
  48. ^ Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
  49. ^ New York Passenger Terminal
  50. ^ Brief history of ferries in Port of New York
  51. ^ *Circle Line Downtown
  52. ^ Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  53. ^ a b Ellis Island and Liberty Island Ferry Map
  54. ^ Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island information at Star Cruises; Accessed August 31, 2010
  55. ^ "Hornblower Cruises". Statuecruises.com. http://statuecruises.com/ferry-service/welcome.aspx. Retrieved June 10, 2010. 
  56. ^ Governor's Island Ferry
  57. ^ Statue Cruises|Liberty Water Taxi
  58. ^ http://www.nywatertaxi.com/ New York Water Taxi
  59. ^ http://www.nywaterway.com/ NY Waterway
  60. ^ SeaStreak Official site
  61. ^ Staten Island Ferry
  62. ^ http://www.bookrags.com/research/ocean-dumping-ban-act-1988-enve-02/
  63. ^ Alfonso Narvaez (8 December 1987). "New York City to Pay Jersey Town $1 Million Over Shore Pollution". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEFD81439F93BA35751C1A961948260. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  64. ^ "A Summary of the Proposed Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan". New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program. February 1995. http://library.marist.edu/diglib/EnvSci/archives/hudsmgmt/ny-njharborestuaryprogram/debris.html. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  65. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: New Jersey". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblighthouses/LHNJ.asp. 
  66. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: New York". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblighthouses/LHNY.asp. 

External links

Coordinates: 40°40′06″N 74°02′44″W / 40.66833°N 74.04556°W / 40.66833; -74.04556

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