MaritimeNY Going Coastal community digital map of maritime resources located in the five boroughs

This is a community digital map of maritime resources located in the five boroughs. Use it online or take a printed version on your explorations. All are welcome to contribute. Please email comments and suggestions for additional sites. Leave a comment about a site right on the map document for others to see and use. Join the MaritimeNY Community Heritage Forum where you can share your love for Maritime New York and help preserve the past and enhance our future.
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CommunityWalk Map - Maritime NY Cultural Resources

This project is funded by New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the New York Council for the Humanities or National Endowment for the Humanities.

Waterfront Histories of New York City's Boroughs

Staten Island Maritime History Brooklyn Maritime History Queens Maritime History Bronx Maritime History Manhattan Maritime History
*The detail from a map by M.T. Jefferys, 1776.
Source: Going Coastal New York City A guide to the Waterfront ©2004

New York City WPA Writers' Project A Maritme History of New York

An online free version in .pdf searchable format: Get the entire book:
 Maritime History of New York
This work is an update of the WPA Federal Writers' Project volume initially published eight days before the Pearl Harbor in 1941. The original body of text together with the epilogue and prologue is a standard departure point for anyone interested in New York’s 400 years of maritime history.

Historic Timeline of Maritime New York

1524Giovanni Da Verrazano  1609Henry Hudson  1614Block's Map of East R.  16401st Brooklyn Ferry  1776the Turtle  1784 Street of Ships  1807 Clermont  1811  1817 Black Ball  1825 Erie Canal  1845 Clipper Ship  1851 Americas Cup  1862 Monitor  1956 container

1524 Verrazano discovers New York Harbor
A Florentine mariner Giovanni Da Verrazano, was hired by King Francis I of France to find a navigable westward route from Europe to Asia across the Atlantic. Sailing along America's eastern coast, Verrazano became the first person to recognize and chart the fact that South America and North America are connected.
New York Bay From Verrazano's Journals:
We found a very agreeable situation located within two small prominent hills (The Narrows), in the midst of which flowed to the sea a very great river (Hudson River), which was deep within the mouth; and from the sea to the hills of that [place] with the rising of the tides, which we found eight feet, any laden ship might have passed. On account of being anchored off the coast in good shelter, we did not wish to adventure in without knowledge of the entrances. We were with the small boat, entering the said river which we found much populated. The people, almost like the others, clothed with the feathers of birds of various colors, came toward us joyfully, uttering very great exclamations of admiration, showing us where we could land with the boat more safely. We entered said river, within the land, about half a league, where we saw it made a very beautiful lake with a circuit of about three leagues (NY Bay); through which they [the Indians] went, going from one and another part to the number of 30 of their little barges, with innumerable people, who passed from one shore and the other in order to see us. In an instant, as is wont to happen in navigation, a gale of unfavorable wind blowing in from the sea, we were forced to return to the ship, leaving the said land with much regret because of its commodiousness and beauty, thinking it was not without some properties of value, all of its hills showing indications of minerals. We called it Angôleme from the principality which thou attained in lesser fortune, and the bay which that land makes called Santa Margarita from the name of thy sister who vanquished the other matrons of modesty and art.
Portrait of da Verrazzano by Orazio Fidani

A model of La Daufine

The Gestaldi Map
 clcik to enlarge
The Gestaldi Map (named after its Venetian creator), made abt 30 years after da Verizzano’s voyage is one of the first cartographic depictions of the New York Harbor and is based on the explorer’s descriptions.

Related Links:
Historic Documents and first hand accounts
The Voyage of Verrazzano, by Henry C. Murphy
See it in New York:
The most significant document pertaining to Verrazzano’s 1524 explorations is housed in the Morgan Library. The Ceillere Codex, a communiqué to Francis I about the voage, containes annotations in Verazzano’s own script.
1609 Henry Hudson explores the North River
The Dutch East India Trading Company commissioned Captain Henry Hudson to find a navigable passage to Asia skirting the North Eastern regions of the American Continent. Enroute, Hudson was the first European to sail and chart the North River - later called the Hudson, all the way to present day Albany (its navigable length).
New York Bay From the journal of Hudson's crewman Robert Juet:
In the morning as soon as the day was light, the wind ceased and the flood came. So we heaved off our ship again into five fathoms water, and sent our boat to sound the bay, and we found that there was three fathoms hard by the southern shore. Our men went on land there, and saw great store of men, women and children, who gave them tobacco at their coming on land. So they went up into the woods, and saw great store of very goodly oaks, and some currants. For one of them came aboard and brought some dried, and gave me some, which were sweet and good. This day many of the people came aboard, some in mantles of feathers, and some in skins of divers sorts of good furs. Some women also came to us with hemp. They had red copper tobacco pipes, and other things of copper they did wear about their necks. At night they went on land again, so we rode very quiet, but durst not trust them.
Hudson's portraite attributed to Honduis

Half Moon
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The Velasco Map
click to enlarge
Jodocus Hondius was a map maker and Hudson's perosnal firend, who served as a witness during the cotract signing between the explorer and The Dutch East India Trading Company.
The Velasco map of 1610 is the closest approximation of how Hudson saw and mapped the New York Bay and the North Rive on his third voyage of 1609. Since the name Manhatta appears for the first time on the map, this document could be considered the island's birth certificate. However, the intrigues and controversies associated with the voyage, seem to plague the Velasco map as well.

Related Links:
The So-Called “Velasco Map”: A Case of Forgery?
Juet's Journals
Trial Records of the mutineers who abandoned Hudson
Additional sources, bibliography etc.
Half Moon

1613 Block builds region's first boat Onrust
A Dutch trader Adriaen Block, after losing his sloop Tiger in a fire, used timber from Manhattan's forest and the salvaged rigging to construct a new vessel for himself and his crue. The new vessel Onrust, "Restless" in Dutch, was presumably launched at a creek that is still running under the current Broad Street. The Captain used the vessel to explore and chart, East River, Housatonic River, Connecticut River, Hell Gate and Long Island Sound. In 1614, based on the expedition’s reports and map, the State General of Netherlands declared the area to be New Netherlands paving the way for the Dutch settlers.
Block's Chart
click to enlarge
Related Links:
The Onrust Project

See it in New York:
The remains of the Tiger, surfaced on the city’s construction sites in 1916 and some more in the 1960’s. The artifacts can be seen in the Museum of the City of New York.
1638 New York's first ferry service begins operations
Cornelis Dircksen used rowboats, canoes and other small vessels to ferry people from a small Brooklyn settlement around Fulton Street to Manhattan's Pecks Slip
Related Links:

1776 Submarine Turtle fires a missile from the depths of the East River
David Bushnell, a twenty year-old Yale student, solicited the help of then top American scientist Ben Franklyn with a problem of how to light the interior of his newly designed underwater boat. While Franklyn could not offer a solution, he persuaded the inventor to try out his submarine against the British Navy that was gathering in New York Harbor. The subsequent launch and firing of The Turtle's single egg-shaped missile in the direction of the British man-of-war Eagle marked the historic first time use of a sub in warfare.
Related Links:
World submarine history timeline
An attmpts to torpedo the Eagle
1784 Empress of China Opens American-China Trade
Only eleven weeks after the last British warships left New York Harbor, a group of Baltimore shipbuilders, Philadelphia financiers, Bostonian managers and New York publicists launched the young nation's first China enterprise with the maiden voyage of Empress of China from New York to Wampao.
Related Links:
An "Experimental" Voyage to China by Paul Fontenoy

1807 Fulton's Clermont inaugurates commercial steamship service
In 1796, John Fitch took Chancellor Livingston on a ride/sales pitch around Collect Pond in his recently invented steam skiff. Livingston bought the patent, and eleven years later, he and engineer Robert Fulton steamed along the Hudson in a much improved vessel. Their ship Clermont reached Albany in a record 32 hours, thus launching the Fulton-Livingston Hudson River monopoly that lasted until 1824.
Related Links:
Fulton's Biography
Steamboats of the Hudson River
1817 Maiden voyage of Nautilus the first motorized Staten Island ferry
In 1817, the Richmond Turnpike Company secured the exclusive rights to operate ferries between Staten Island and Manhattan. The company's first steam ferry Nautilus was captained by John De Forest the brother in-law of already famous 23 year -old Cornelius Vanderbilt, who succesfully chalanged the Fulton/Livingston monopoly by running his steamer the Bellona between Manhatan and New Jerse . In 1838 The Vanderbilt family bought the RTC and ran the Staten Island ferry utill 1884.
Related Links:
Cornelius Vanderbilt Short Biography
History of Staten Island Ferry
1818 Packet James Monroe initiates scheduled sailing to Europe
New York's Black Ball Company innovated the shipping industry by creating "a line" of several vessels sailing in a coordinated succession on a preset schedule and between predetermined ports, thus giving birth to the Transatlantic shuttle for mail, goods and people. The James Monroe was the first in the "line" of four sailing vessels on a monthly New York- Liverpool route.
Related Links:
1825 Erie Canal Opens
The Erie Canal connected the salt waters of Atlantic in New York Bay to the fresh waters of the Great Lakes creating one navigable route for people and goods from all over the world to reach the heart of the American continent. The Canal fed New York's growth to a mercantile and financial world capitol.
Related Links:
Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal by Jacob Abbott History of Erie Canal, Historic photos, & maps
1845 Maiden Voyage of the world's first extreme Clipper Rainbow.
John Willis Griffiths designed a new sailboat capable of unprecedented speed and long distances. On its maiden voyage the Clipper Rainbow reached China in 102 days and returned to New York in 79, setting a new round trip record. The clipper's speed but relatively small haul made them perfect for small, light precious cargo like spices, teas, gems. These extreme clippers were designed to compete with steam boats and for a short time they did.
Related Links:
Clipper Ships and China Trade.
1851 Yacht America wins 100-Pd Cup (America's Cup)
Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, invited John Cox Stevens to participate in the Great Racing Exhibition. Stevens was founder of America's first yacht club - the New York Yacht Club in 1844. A syndicate of yacht club members financed the construction of a racing yacht designed by George Steer, a famous pilot boat designer. For the race, Steer incorporated the best from pilot schooners and clipper ships to create the perfect racing vessel. America’s crew was led to victory by a Sandy Hook Pilot, Captain “Dick” Brown.
Related Links:
History of Sandy Hook Pilots.
1862 USS Monitor built in Brooklyn
In the era when ships were still made out of wood, it took nine different foundries to forge the iron clad man-of–war USS Monitor. Its hull was completed by Continental Iron Works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where the ship was launched January 30 1862. On March 8, Monitor took its place in Naval History during a four hour close range shoot-off with the ironclad CSS Virginia. Each ship sustained over 20 direct hits, but since none caused vital damage, most military experts called the first ironclad encounter a draw. A storm off the coast of North Carolina proved to be a stronger opponent for the battleship designed for combat in shallow waters. It sank on Dec 31 of 1862. Rediscovered in 1973, Monitor made history for the second time, when its' wreck site became the first National Marine Sanctuary in the U.S.
Related Links:
USS Monitor History, Historic Photos.
Interactive tour of the wreck of the USS Monitor
John Ericsson's Biography
Guide to Monitor's design & construction documets
1956 Maiden Voyage of a Containership.
The voyage of Ideal –X (a former WW2 Liberty Tanker), loaded with 58 35-foot steel containers along with regular liquid cargo from Newark, N J to Houston, TX marked the beginning of the end for "break-bulk shipping" (packages loose in vessels’ cargo hold) – a method of maritime cargo transport that can be traced back to Phoenicians.
Related Links:
History of Maersk and McLean Invention