Port of New York and New Jersey
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the port district of the New York–Newark metropolitan area, encompassing the region within approximately a 25-mile (40 km) radius of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. It includes the system of navigable waterways in the estuary along 650 miles (1,050 km) of shoreline in the vicinity of New York City and northeastern New Jersey, as well as the region's airports, supporting rail and roadway distribution networks.
Considered one the biggest natural harbors in the world, the port is by tonnage the third largest in the United States and the busiest on the East Coast. In 2010, 4,811 ships entered the harbor carrying over 32.2 million metric tons of cargo valued at over $175 billion. The port handled $208 billion in shipping cargo in 2011. Approximately 3,200,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of containers and 700,000 cars are handled per year. The port is the nation's top gateway for international flights and its busiest center for overall passenger and air freight flights. There two foreign-trade zones (FTZ) within the port: FTZ 1, the first in the nation, established in 1937, on the New York side of the port; and FTZ 49, on the New Jersey side.
Encompassing an area within an approximate 25-mile (40 km) radius of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, the port district comprises all or part of seventeen counties in the region. The ten that are completely within the district are Hudson, Bergen, Essex, Union (in New Jersey), Westchester (in New York), and the five boroughs of New York City, which are coterminous with the counties of New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, and Richmond. Abutting sections of Passaic, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, and Somerset in New Jersey, and Nassau and Rockland in New York are also within the district.
Bodies of water
The Atlantic Ocean is to the southeast of the port. The sea at the entrance to the port is called the New York Bight; it lies between the peninsulas of Sandy Hook and Rockaway. In Lower New York Bay and its western arm, Raritan Bay, vessels orient themselves for passage to the east into Arthur Kill or Raritan River or to the north to The Narrows. To the east lies the Rockaway Inlet, which leads to Jamaica Bay. The Narrows connects to the Upper New York Bay at the mouth of the Hudson River, which is sometimes (particularly in navigation) called the North River. Large ships are able to navigate 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 that 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.
The port consists of a complex of approximately 240 miles (386 km) of shipping channels, as well as anchorages and port facilities. Most vessels require pilotage, 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 was deepened over the years, to a controlling depth of about 24 feet (7 m) in 1880. By 1891, the Main Ship Channel was minimally 30 feet (9 m) deep. 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) deep to accommodate larger ships up to Panamax size. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently contracting out deepening to 50 feet (15 m) in order to accommodate Post-Panamax container vessels, which can already pass through the Suez Canal. 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. 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 and at Brooklyn Bridge Park. 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.
The channel of the Hudson is the Anchorage Channel and is approximately 50 feet deep in the midpoint of Upper Bay. A project to replace two water mains between Brooklyn and Staten Island, which will evetnually allowing for dreding of the channel to nearly 100 ft (30 m), was begun in April 2012.
The estuary was originally the territory of the Lenape, a seasonally migrational people who would relocate summer encampments along its shore and use its waterways for transport and fishing. Many of the tidal salt marshes supported vast oyster banks that remained 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.
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 used for anthracite) gave the port access to the American interior, leading to transshipment 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 an 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 to the 20th century led to the creation of berths at North River piers and Hoboken. This coincided with the immigration of millions, processed at Castle Clinton and later at Ellis Island, some staying in the region, others boarding barges, ships, and trains to points across the United States. In 1910, the port was the busiest in the world.
During the World Wars the waterfront supported shipyards and military installations such as the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and the Brooklyn Navy Yard and played an important role in troop transport. The mid-century also saw the construction of major highways such as the Belt Parkway, East River Drive, and 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. Since the 1980s, sections 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.
Jurisdiction and regulation
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, and other transportation and real estate development projects. The Port Authority maintains its own police force, as does the Waterfront Commission, created in 1953 to investigate, prosecute, and prevent criminal activity. The United States Army Corps of Engineers, which has been involved in harbor maintenance since about 1826, when Congress passed an omnibus rivers and harbors act, is responsible for bulkhead and channel maintenance. The United States Coast Guard deals with issues such as floatable debris, spills, vessel rescues, and counter-terrorism. Both states, and some municipal governments – in particular New York City – 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 zones, 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.
In March 2006, some of the passenger facilities management was to be transferred to Dubai Ports World. There was considerable controversy over security and ownership by a foreign corporation, particularly Arabic, of a U.S. port operation, despite the fact that the operator was British-based P&O Ports. DP World later sold P&O's American operations to American International Group's asset management division, Global Investment Group, for an undisclosed sum.
There are four container terminals in the port, whose combined volume makes it the largest on the East Coast, the third busiest in the United States, and 20th worldwide. Terminals are leased to different port operators, such as A. P. Moller-Maersk Group, American Stevedoring, NYCT, and Global Marine Terminal.
- Howland Hook Marine Terminal
- Port Jersey Marine Terminal
- Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, the nation's first and third busiest
- Red Hook Marine Terminal
In June 2010, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed to purchase from Bayonne 128 acres (0.52 km2) of land at the Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne, indicating that additional container port facilities would be created. 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. A project to raise to the roadway of the bridge within the existing arch is underway.
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.
- Arthur Kill, along its shore the Bayway Refinery and the Chemical Coast
- Kill van Kull at Constable Hook
- Gowanus Canal in South Brooklyn
- Newtown Creek, East River at Greenpoint and Hunter's Point
- Passaic River from Newark Bay to Passaic
- South Brooklyn Marine Terminal
Car float and Cross Harbor Tunnel
At one time nearly 600,000 railcars were transferred annually by barge between the region's extensive rail facilities. Today approximately 1,600 cars 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. 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.
Freight rail has never used the New York Tunnel Extension under the Hudson Palisades, Hudson River, Manhattan, and East River due to electrified 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.
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 improve the existing railcar 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 project. The National Docks Secondary rail line is being upgraded in anticipation of expanded volumes.
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 that lined the North River (Hudson River) were 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 that 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.
- Cape Liberty Cruise Port, MOTBY, Upper Bay
- Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Buttermilk Channel, Upper Bay
- New York Passenger Ship Terminal, Hudson River
Ferries and sightseeing
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/Wall Street, West Midtown Ferry Terminal, and the East 34th Street Ferry Landing. There also are numerous ferry slips that each serve 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.
- Circle Line Downtown
- Circle Line Sightseeing
- Ellis Island and Liberty Island
- Governor's Island Ferry (seasonal)
- Liberty Water Taxi
- New York Water Taxi
- NY Waterway
- New York Beach Ferry
- Staten Island Ferry
The airports in the Port of New York and New Jersey combine to create the largest airport system in the United States, the second in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and the first in the world in terms of total flight operations. JFK air freight operations make it the busiest in the US. FedEx Express, the world's busiest cargo airline, uses Newark Liberty International Airport as its regional hub.
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 New York City Subway and Pennsylvania Station. Rubble from the bombing of London was transported for ballast during World War II. 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.
From 1924 until 1986, sewerage sludge was hauled by tugboat and barge to a point 12 miles (19 km) offshore in the Atlantic. From 1986 to 1992 it was dumped at a site 106 nautical miles from Atlantic City, after which ocean dumping was banned. 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.
Lights and lighthouses
- Ambrose Light, Lower Bay (dismantled 2008)
- Bergen Point Light, Newark Bay (replaced)
- Blackwell Island Light, Roosevelt Island, East River (retired 1940)
- Chapel Hill Rear Range Light, Sandy Hook Bay (deactivated 1957)
- Conover Beacon (front range light), Leonardo
- Coney Island (Nortons Point) Light, Lower New York Bay, Sea Gate, Brooklyn
- Elm Tree Beacon Light, The Narrows, New Dorp, Staten Island
- Execution Rocks Light, Long Island Sound
- Fort Tompkins Light, The Narrows, Staten Island (retired)
- Fort Wadsworth Light, Verrazano Narrows
- Great Beds Light, Raritan Bay, South Amboy
- Kings Point Light, Long Island Sound, Great Neck
- Kingsborough Community College Light, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
- Little Gull Island Light, Long Island Sound
- Little Red Lighthouse (Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse), Fort Washington, Manhattan
- Navesink Twin Lights, Sandy Hook Bay, Highlands
- New Dorp Light, The Narrows, Staten Island Swash Channel (retired)
- North Brother Island Light, East River
- Old Orchard Shoal Light, Gedney Channel, lLower Bay
- Princes Bay Light, Staten Island
- Robbins Reef Light, Constable Hook, Upper Bay,
- Romer Shoal Light, Lower Bay near Sandy Hook Bay
- Sandy Hook Light, Sandy Hook
- Staten Island Light Lighthouse Hill, Staten Island
- Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, Upper Bay (until 1902)
- Stepping Stones Light, Long Island Sound, near City Island
- Stony Point light, Hudson River
- Throgs Neck Light, Throggs Neck, East River (decommissioned)
- Titanic Memorial, South Street Seaport, East River,
- West Bank Light, Ambrose Channel, Lower Bay (range front)
- Whitestone Point Light, Whitestone Point, southerly side of East River
Tourism and recreation
- South Street Seaport
- Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
- Gateway National Recreation Area
- Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island and Governor's Island
- Hudson River Park, Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Liberty State Park and Communipaw Terminal
- Battery Park and Castle Clinton
- Hackensack Meadowlands, Riverwalk, and Environment Center
- Pier 63, New York Central Railroad 69th Street Transfer Bridge, and 79th Street Boat Basin
- Gantry Plaza State Park
- Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
- Hoboken Terminal
- City Island
- Maritime security (USCG)
- Port security
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