On April 26, 1956 an oil tanker customized to carry standardized metal crates left Port Newark, NJ for Houston, TX, marking the first commercially successful containerized shipment. Over the next 30 years, containerized cargo would come to dominate the shipping industry and create a new global economy. Marc Levinson, author of The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, joins us to share the story of the shipping container and how it changed the world.
New York City’s working waterfront has been widely associated with crime and corruption at least since On The Waterfront hit movie screens in 1954, but the story goes back further. Nathan Ward, author of Dark Harbor: The War for the New York Waterfront and CUNY scholar Joseph Sciorra join us to reveal the story of Pete Panto, a longshoreman who took a stand against the mob bosses. Though Panto paid the ultimate price, his death initiated a long struggle toward waterfront reform.
On March 17, 1863, the gunboat Shamrock was launched from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an event attended by more than 5,000 onlookers and tremendous fanfare. The christening of this ship was meant to recognize the contributions of Irish troops to the Union cause, but it also represented a watershed moment during the ascendancy of the Irish in the city’s waterfront trades. This program will examine the growth of Irish communities along the waterfront before and after the Civil War, look at the centers of civic life, including churches, pubs, and political clubs, some of which persist to this day, and learn about groundbreaking Irish admirals, engineers, and entrepreneurs that helped shape the city’s waterfront.
Food manufacturing has been a cornerstone of Brooklyn’s manufacturing economy for 150 years. Not only was the borough was home to some of the largest chocolate and confectionary makers in the country, but its port brought the tropical ingredients from around the globe. We will discuss some of the large and small chocolate makers that dotted Brooklyn’s landscape, the men and women who worked in them, and the transformations brought to the industry by mechanization, unionization, and war. We will also look at some of the artisanal chocolate makers that are keeping the confectionary traditions alive today.
Join us for another virtual boat tour, this time aboard a beautiful motor yacht with our friends at Classic Harbor Line. Starting at Chelsea Piers, we will head down the Hudson, past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and around the northern Upper Bay. Along the way, we will discuss the evolution of the skylines on both sides of the river, highlight the maritime history still visible in the landscape, and share insights on the working of the harbor today.
For almost a century, New Jersey’s Morris Canal fueled New York City with anthracite coal from northeast Pennsylvania, but now for nearly another century, the abandoned canal has been all but obliterated from the landscape. Join us as Tim Roth of the Canal Society of New Jersey helps uncover this lost canal, its innovative design, and its vital role in the history of New York City. Our discussion will also look at the lives of the people who worked that waterway, and current efforts to return its remnants to public view.
Renowned nautical photographer Jonathan Atkin takes us on a high-flying tour of New York’s working waterfront, which he often photographs from the air to capture container ships, cruise liners, military vessels, and any other type of working craft. For every shoot, Atkin must coordinate logistics among at least 40 people in a high value, high security setting while hoping the weather cooperates. His experience as a merchant seaman and his knowledge of the harbor and its operations are critical to his success. Come along for a ride like no other as Atkin shares a bit of his knowledge and some of his work.
Sitting at the mouth of the Hudson estuary with vast shorelines and moderate tides, New York Harbor is one of the greatest natural ports on earth, yet moving goods around the region on land has always been a challenge. This talk hosted by maritime expert Stefan Dreisbach-Williams will look at the forces that transformed New York into a dominant global port, from the mid-19th to the present, despite the fact that its geography poses huge obstacles for land-based transport by train and truck. We will look at the infrastructure and economic forces behind this paradox, and take note of places where the old technologies are still visible, and how new ones continue to develop.