Recently I’ve read parts of Marc Levinson’s The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Richer. The book tells as much about shipping and more specifically the port of New York as it does about McLean’s box. McClean aka “father of containerization,” started toward the box in 1934 when he bought a used pickup truck to ship tobacco products. Read about his trajectory as shipping visionary in the link above.
In 1934 only the gray stone (I believe it’s 20 Exchange Place) building (behind and just to the left of the white cupola) making up this skyline as seen from off Battery Park City existed. On the waterfront were piers and more piers. Danish vessel Adriatic ID, rather than sailing past Manhattan, would likely have docked there. From Levinson, “the city’s piers–283 of them at mid century with 98 of them able to handle ocean-going vessels–were strung out along the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts.” Bowsprite has a foto (third image down) of all these piers in this post.
ROROs like Fedora didn’t exist before World War 2, but if they had, Bayonne would not have been where they docked.
Similarly, the piers and docks of Red Hook Brooklyn were strewn with easily-pilfered break bulk cargo: cases, casks, cartons, bags, boxes of all sizes, bundles, packages, pieces, drums, cans, barrels, vehicles, crates, transporters, reels, coils, piles, and the kitchen sink. The containers offloaded from Maas Trader may in fact “package” all those things and more, only the number of dock workers and the time they work would be exponentially different from pre-World War 2.
South African vessel Safmarine Oranje would not have turned westward here toward Port Elizabeth or Howland Hook; it wasn’t until 1955 that the Robert Meyner, then governor of New Jersey, and the Port Authority (established in 1921) signed a deal to transformed a marsh into the container port Port Elizabeth is today.
More history later . . . but today, the arrival and departure of “long trainloads” contained within 1000′ loa vessels is commonplace, OOCL Oakland arriving and
APL Japan, departing.
Hong Kong bulk carrier Great Majesty anchors in
the Upper Bay along Sunset Park just off the Brooklyn Army Terminal and in the watchful eye of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Before leaving town, few mariners ever set foot on dry land. IGA heads for sea under the bridge that wasn’t there until 1964.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp.