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Waterfront Manhattan

From Henry Hudson to the High Line

Kurt C. Schlichting

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The waterfront was the key to New York City’s growth and prosperity.

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...

The waterfront was the key to New York City’s growth and prosperity.

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.

Reviews

Reviews

Well researched, engagingly told, and rich in historical, sociological, and economic detail, Waterfront Manhattan represents a new way to look at the ascendancy and growth of America's most important city.

In Waterfront Manhattan, Schlichting has woven an impressive narrative which is sure to shed light on this underappreciated aspect of New York City history.

This is an important book. There is much to ponder on the future of New York City's harbor, encompassing all five of the city's boroughs and also New Jersey's shoreline.

This book will command serious and broad attention. A worthy successor to Schlichting's first two books, which made important contributions to the history of New York City and transportation history. I enthusiastically recommend it.

Anyone with an interest in New York City will want to read this book. Schlichting succeeds admirably in describing the evolution of Manhattan's waterfront through the past several centuries—so far as I know there is no published work of such scope and richness. It will also be a valuable addition to courses on urban history, urban planning, and role of civil engineering in changing cities and society.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
256
ISBN
9781421425238
Illustration Description
26 halftones, 22 maps, 1 chart
Table of Contents

Preface
1. Growth, Decline, and Rebirth
2. Water-Lots and the Extension of the Manhattan Shoreline
3. The Ascendency of the Port of New York
4. New York's Waterway Empires
5. The Social Construction of the

Preface
1. Growth, Decline, and Rebirth
2. Water-Lots and the Extension of the Manhattan Shoreline
3. The Ascendency of the Port of New York
4. New York's Waterway Empires
5. The Social Construction of the Waterfront
6. The Port Prospers, the Railroads Arrive, and Congestion Ensues
7. The Public and Control of the Waterfront
8. Crime, Corruption, and the Death of the Manhattan Waterfront
9. Rebirth of the Waterfront
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Kurt C. Schlichting, Ph.D.

Kurt C. Schlichting is a professor of sociology and the E. Gerald Corrigan '63 Chair in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Fairfield University. His book Grand Central Terminal: Railroads, Engineering, and Architecture in New York City, also published by Johns Hopkins, won the Professional/Scholarly Publishing Award in Architecture from the Association of American Publishers.