Port History

aerial photo of the busy New York harbor, circa 1920

The Hudson and East rivers were bustling with maritime activity; however, there was very little harmony and cooperation between New York and New Jersey. The two states frequently fought over jurisdiction rights on the mighty Hudson River.  After years of political negotiation, a compact between the two states was signed in 1921 and created the Port of New York Authority. The agency was given a broad mandate to develop and modernize the entire Port District.

photo of the unveiling of the design for Port Newark

In 1948, the Port Authority assumed the responsibility of operating Port Newark. The two World Wars and Great Depression had taken a toll on the port, and it was greatly in need of repair.

photo of the deck of a container ship, circa 1950

By 1951, Port Newark had become a modern terminal with 21 berths and a deepened 35-foot channel able to accommodate the largest ships at that time. On April 26, 1956, a date that many in the shipping industry hail as the birth of the modern maritime era, the Ideal X – pioneered by the McLean Trucking Company -- was rigged for an experiment to use standardized cargo containers that were stacked and then unloaded onto a compatible truck chassis.

aerial photo of the Port

The port handled record tonnage in the early 1950s as the agency's improvement and modernization investments led to higher rates of employment, tenant occupancy and new business development.

aerial photo the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal site in 1958, just before construction began

On August 15, 1962, the Port Authority opened the world's first container port, Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal (the photo above shows the site in 1958, just before construction started). Elizabeth became known as "America's Container Capital."

photo of Port container operation

Since 2000, the Port Authority has invested $2 billion to prepare the region's port for future growth. Today, the Port of New York & New Jersey is the third largest port in the nation.

 



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