Geography of New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary
The system of waterways of the Port of New York and New Jersey forms one of the most intricate natural harbors in the world. Although the overall form of the harbor remains unchanged from the time of Giovanni da Verrazzano's visit in 1524, no part of it remains unaffected by human activity, and some parts, such as Hell Gate and Ellis Island have been almost completely altered. In the greatest hidden change, the navigational channels have been deepened from the natural 17 feet depth to 45 feet, in some places requiring blasting of bedrock.
The harbor lies at the confluence of three major bodies of water. The harbor opens onto the New York Bight (Atlantic Ocean) to the southeast and the Long Island Sound to the northeast. Both of these are essentially marine bodies with both tides and saltwater, but the Sound compared to the Atlantic is about 20-30% less saline (as an estuary), and the tide is about 3 hours later with as much as 70% more variation. The Hudson River adds a fresher, non-tidal inflow from the north, although the tide and brackishness extend well up river.
These three combine to generate an extremely complex system of tides and currents  throughout the extended hydrologic system from Albany to Montauk Point to the Hudson Canyon region of the New York Bight. The New York Harbor Observing and Prediction System (NYHOPS) utilizes information from sensors, weather forecasts, and environment models to provide real-time forecasts of meteorological and oceanographic conditions in the area.
- 1 Features of the Harbor
- 2 Rivers and streams
- 3 Tidal straits
- 4 Bays, inlets and coves
- 5 Islands
- 6 Land features
- 7 Banks and shoals
- 8 Navigational channels
- 9 Port facilities
- 10 Lights and lighthouses
- 11 Waterfront jurisdictions
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Features of the Harbor
The lists below includes features of Port of New York and New Jersey with a waterborne emphasis starting with natural features. Where possible the list proceeds from Lower Bay entrance approximately clockwise around Harbor. The alternative sorting is by jurisdiction.
Rivers and streams
Bays, inlets and coves
Long Island Sound
- Ellis Island
- Liberty Island, exclave of New York located in New Jersey
- Plum Island, Sandy Hook Bay
- Robbins Reef
- Shooters Island
Jamaica Bay islands
New York County
Upper Bay islands
East River islands
Jamaica Bay islands
Banks and shoals
Kill van Kull
One of the many duties of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is to develop trade interests in the New York-New Jersey area. The PA operates most of the containerized port facilities listed here, and also collaborates with the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain shipping channels in the harbor.
New Jersey numerous privately operated bulk facilities, especially petroleum, not listed
- Auto Marine Terminal, Bayonne and Jersey City— Port Authority
- Global Marine Terminal, Jersey City— privately operated
- Port Jersey
- Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, Newark and Elizabeth— Port Authority
- Staten Island
- Howland Hook Marine Terminal— Port Authority
Lights and lighthouses
Government and other agencies
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- National Park Service
- New Jersey Meadowlands Commission
- Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- United States Army Corps of Engineers
- United States Coast Guard
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- United States Park Police
- Waterfront Commission
State, county, municipal
- NOAA Tides and Current web site FAQ page. See discussion of hydraulic currents 
- Chapter 11, New York Harbor and Approaches, Coast Pilot 2, 35th Edition, 2006, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA.
- NOAA nautical charts 12327 New York Harbor (1:40,000 scale), 12324 Sandy Hook to Little Egg, 12350 Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Inlet, 12402, 12401 New York Lower Bay, 12331 Raritan Bay and southern part of Arthur Kill, 12332 Raritan River, 12333 Kill van Kull and northern part of Arthur Kill, 12334 New York Harbor (Upper Bay and Narrows, 12337, 12335, 12338, 12341, 12339, 12366 Long Island Sound and East River, found on page Nautical charts Atlantic Coast charts online, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA.
- USGS topographic maps, 1:24,000 scale, listed from west to east (in a row), then north to south:
- Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Mamaroneck;
- Orange, Weehawken, Central Park Flushing, Seacliff;
- Elizabeth, Jersey City, Brooklyn, Jamaica, Lynbrook;
- Perth Amboy, Arthur Kill The Narrows, Coney Island, Far Rockaway;
- South Amboy, Keyport, Sandy Hook West, Sandy Hook East.
- Title 33.Navigation And Navigable Waters USC. See Section 59.
- All of the landfill portion of Ellis Island beyond its 1834 waterfront is in Hudson County, NJ. All water surrounding Liberty and Ellis Islands is in Hudson County.
- Reports of Channel Conditions, USACE, Nov. 2004: "Partial Anchorage Channel:Starts approximately 3,990 Ft. seaward of Red Gas #2; Ends approximately 1,660 Ft. landward of Red Light & Bell #21. Authorized project: Width: 2000 ft, Length: 2.34 nmiles, Depth 45 ft.... Shoaling exists and begins approximately 2,230 Ft. seaward of Red Gas #2 and proceeds landward with a length of approximately 600 Ft. and a width of approximately 60 Ft." Also Hearing Notice for Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation 21/1/2004. Simplified map Bayonne Peninsula Chap. 6, CPIP Toolkit, PANYNJ.
- of Historic Light Stations New Jersey Lighthouses and Inventory of Historic Light Stations New York Lighthouses NPS lists.
- New York Lighthouses and New York Lighthouses Lighthouse Friends 2001-2005.
- Boundaries extend to mid-Hudson on the west, into the Upper Harbor south of Governors Island, to the far pierhead line of the East River, Harlem River and Spuyten Duyvil. The exceptions are the additional areas of Marble Hill section included north of the Harlem River (bounded approximately by Johnson Avenue, West 230 Street) and Liberty and Ellis Islands to their original 1834 waterfront. River
- New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program Partnership to protect and restore the Harbor Estuary.
- New York and New Jersey Harbor US Army Corps of Engineers: NY/NJ Harbor
- PANJNY Coastal Ecosystems Initiatives
- "How The Earth Was Made". © 1996-2011, A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Retrieved 2011-09-19. video explaining formation of estuary