Waterfront Manhattan : from Henry Hudson to the high line / Kurt C. Schlichting.

Schlichting, Kurt C. [Browse]
  • Baltimore : John Hopkins University Press, 2018.
  • ©2018
xiii, 240 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


Summary note
  • "For hundreds of years, the shorefront of Manhattan Island served as the country's center of trade, shipping, and commerce. With its maritime links across the oceans, along the Atlantic coast, and inland to the Midwest and New England, Manhattan became a global city and home to the world's busiest port. It was a world of docks, ships, tugboats, and ferries, filled with cargo and freight, a place where millions of immigrants entered the Promised Land. In Waterfront Manhattan, Kurt C. Schlichting tells the story of the Manhattan waterfront as a struggle between public and private control of New York's priceless asset. Nature provided New York with a sheltered harbor but presented the city with a challenge: to find the necessary capital to build and expand the maritime infrastructure. From colonial times until after the Civil War, the city ceded control of the waterfront to private interests, excluding the public entirely and sparking a battle between shipping companies, the railroads, and ferries for access to the waterfront. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the City of New York regained control of the waterfront, but a whirlwind of forces beyond the control of either public or private interests--technological change in the form of the shipping container and the jet airplane--devastated the city's maritime world. The city slowly and painfully recovered. Visionaries reimagined the waterfront, and today the island is almost completely surrounded by parkland, the world of piers and longshoremen gone, replaced by luxury housing and tourist attractions. Waterfront Manhattan is a wide-ranging history that will dazzle anyone who is fascinated by New York"-- Provided by publisher.
  • "Nature provided New York with a sheltered harbor but the city with a challenge: to find the necessary capital to build and expand the maritime infrastructure. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the city's government did not have the responsibility or the fiscal resources to develop needed port facilities. To build the infrastructure, the government awarded "water-lots" to private individuals to build wharves and piers, surrendering public control of the waterfront. For over 250 years private enterprise ran the waterfront; the city played a peripheral role. By the end of the Civil War chaos reigned and threatened the port's dominance. In 1870 the city and state created the Department of Docks to exercise public control and rebuild the maritime infrastructure for the new era of steamships and ocean liners. A hundred years later, technological change in the form of the shipping container and jet airplane rendered Manhattan's waterfront obsolete within an incredibly short time span. The maritime use of the shoreline collapsed, mirroring the near death of the city of New York in the 1970s. Ships disappeared and abandoned piers and empty warehouses lined the waterfront. The city slowly and painfully recovered. The empty waterfront allowed visionaries and planners to completely reimagine a shore lined with parkland. Along the new waterfront, luxury housing has transformed the waterfront neighborhoods where the Irish longshoremen once lived. A few remaining piers offer spectacular views of the city's waterways, now a most precious asset. The rebirth has been driven by complex private/public partnerships, with the city of New York playing only a peripheral role. The contentious question of private vs. public control of the waterfront remains a continuing issue in the 21st century"-- Provided by publisher.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references (pages 213-229) and index.
  • 9781421425238 ((hardback))
  • 1421425238 ((hardcover))
  • ((electronic))
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