The Atlantic Basin, 1893
Illustrated Map and descriptions from the The Citizen Guide to Brooklyn and Long Island
Select passages from The Citizen guide to Brooklyn and Long Island, 1893
A comparison between the commerce of New York and Brooklyn will serve to show the relative importance of the two cities as regards shipping and allied industries. It has been estimated that the arrivals and departures of vessels, both sailing and steam, from the docks of Brooklyn are about one and one-quarter times as many as from New York. The receipt and distribution of raw sugar and molasses is almost entirely confined to Brooklyn. Save for the petroleum refined in New Jersey, almost the entire receipts of the Atlantic sea-board are brought by the Standard Oil Company's pipes to the works in Williamsburg and Long Island City. Of the cotton business Brooklyn takes one half, and of the grain and general provision traffic four times as much as New York. As a rule, the traffic on the Brooklyn docks is confined to the handling of raw materials or manufactured goods of a voluminous and less destructible character. In general Brooklyn may be regarded as the terminus of the great trans-Atlantic, South and Central American and domestic freight lines, while the passenger service is more particularly confined to New York, Jersey City and Hoboken. Many of the Brooklyn lines, however, carry passengers, as will be seen by the table of steamships in another part of this book. Articles more valuable in proportion to their bulk find their way directly to the wharves of New York, being carried thither by the great express steamship lines. The individuality of Brooklyn's commerce is lost in the transactions of the New York Custoni House, there being but one institution of this kind for the entire metropolitan district; on this account it is difficult to get accurate figures for the marine traffic of the city.
The most extensive business transacted on and about the Brooklyn docks is the shipment of grain. Four-fifths of the cereals received by all the Trunk Lines and by the Erie Canal are stored in and reshipped from the grain elevators in Brooklyn. The aggregate capacity of these "elevators exceeds twenty million bushels, and the transfer capacity over 125,000 bushels per hour. These huge structures, with their vast mechanical equipments, are mostly confined to the water front south of Brooklyn Bridge, especially on the Atlantic and Erie Basins. They loom up like so many landmarks and form a very noticeable feature in this part of the harbor. These huge elevators, in size and equipment, are by far the greatest in the country, and are almost entirely used for the storage of grain intended for transshipment abroad, although considerable quantities are withdrawn by the breweries of the city. It is a fascinating but an extremely dusty occupation to watch one of these elevators while in operation. The grain, after first being transferred from the canalboats to the capacious bins of the elevator, is carried by a system of broad rubber belts provided with buckets, driven by powerful engines, to every part of the building for storage. When the grain is to be shipped, it is brought again by these belts to the conveyor, and is thence conducted by a series of pipes to the holds of the vessels.
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At the foot of Court and Clinton streets are the great ship yards cf C. & I. Poillon, in which are built a large number of pilot boats, yachts and sailing craft of like dimensions. Here also are the marine railways of Downing & Lawrence, by which ships are drawn out of the water on sliding ways by means of very powerful engines. On the eastern shore of Gowanus Bay are several dry docks of the balance type, in which, when the water is pumped out, the vessels are raised bodily several feet above the flooring. Here are located the docks of the New York Yacht Club and some of the finest members of its fleet are often to be seen in them awaiting or undergoing repairs.
...The west side of Gowanus Bay is conveniently reached by the Van Brunt Street and Cross Town surface lines, and the docks on the east side by the Third Avenue and Court Street lines.
The Erie and Brooklyn Basins.
Passing along the west shore of this bay one comes to the Erie and Brooklyn Basins — vast enclosed docks bounded by Hicks Street slip on the east and Van Brunt Street dock on the west. These docks, though collectively known as the Erie Basin, are managed by different corporations. The Erie Basin, one of the largest enclosed marine depots in the country, was conceived about the middle of this century by Col. Richards and designed and built by Jeremiah P. Robinson. When the enterprise was started much of this territory was under water at high tide and the most of the remainder was inhabited by squatters who were driven off as the work of excavation and spile driving progressed. The foundations of these immense docks are laid on spiles 25 feet in length, driven level with the surface and bedded with concrete. On this solid foundation were reared the massive revetement walls of granite which surround the whole basin. The area of the basins is about 100 acres. The granite crib work is filled with excavated earth and broken stone and forms one of the most stable wharf structures in the world. The walls and piers encircling the basin are of enormous size. The principal one, which is the continuation of Columbia street, extends from Elizabeth street to the southern limits of the basin and thence runs southward and northwestward to the entrance, an entire length of about 2,700 feet. The width of this dock is 500 feet, and upon it stands a great row of warehouses occupied chiefly as the Robinson stores and grain elevators. The basin generally contains upwards of a score of ves- sels from all nations discharging and receiving cargos. On the north side of the basin are about a dozen slips, three of which are owned by the Anglo-American Dock Company, and used as dry docks for the repair of the great ocean steamships. These immense structures will well repay the visitor for any time he may spend in viewing them, while they are performing a hospital service to one of the great trans-Atlantic steamships. They were built in 1866 by a syndicate of Boston contractors and are the greatest in the United States. The largest is No. 2, which is 610 feet long, 124 feet wide at the top and 60 feet wide at the bottom. The dimensions of No. I are, length 510 feet, width at the top 112 feet, width at the bottom 50 feet. The entrances to the Dry Docks are closed by vast caissons which fit so per- fectly as to make the chambers almost water tight. After the steamship has been floated into the dock and the caissons closed the water is drawn from the chamber by a powerful centrifugal pump connected with a pipe four feet in diameter. By means of this pumping apparatus, but two hours are required to exhaust the larger basin, and one and one-half hours the smaller. Number 2 dock is capable of holding the largest vessel afloat. Nearly all the great steamships arriving in New York and needing repairs are docked here. After their collision in the Spring of '87 the White Star liners Celtic and Britannic were taken here to be overhauled. The competing yachts Volunteer and Thistle in the last International Race for the America's Cup received here their final polishings and examinations. Other docks in the Erie Basin are: Crane's Dock, situated at the Erie Breakwater and used for the construction of railroad transfjortation barges; Gokey's and Hilton's Docks, where sailing vessels are laid up for repairs. The north side of the basin also contains two dry docks belonging to Messrs. Wm. Cramp and Sons. There are other docks here also used for shipbuilding or repairs above the water line. The Erie Basin is most con- viently reached by the Van Brunt Street line of horse cars from Hamilton Ferry or by the Furman Street line from Fulton Ferry. Leaving these basins, and continuing along the shore line for about a mile one reaches the spacious entrance of
The Atlantic Basin and Docks.
This magnificent marine enclosure lies directly opposite Governor's Island on Buttermilk Channel, by which it is approached on the water side. Its land boundaries are Hamilton avenue, Imlay and King streets. The Basin is almost a parallelogram in form and covers an area of 40 acres of water surface. Beyond all comparison this basin, with its surrounding docks, is in the solidity of its construction and the completeness of its arrangement the finest in the Western Hemisphere. It was projected as early as 1839 by Col. Daniel Richards, by whom the first surveys and soundings were then made. In 1840 the Atlantic Dock Company, with a capital of $1,000,000, was incorporated, and the work of excavation and construction began in the summer of the following year. In viewing the enormous traffic of this marine market today it is almost impossible to realize that it was once a swampy marsh without sufficient water on its surface to be navigable anywhere for anything but the very smallest boats. Yet such it was before the work of reclamation and improvement was begun. The ebbying tide was wont to leave great stretches of the morass uncovered and the air of the neighborhood was in consequence polluted with the odor of the decaying vegetation. The more elevated portions of the ground were occupied by squatters, who formed a sort of littoral colony extending southward to Gowanus Bay. After five years of effort on the part of Col. Richards the work was undertaken and carried forward to completion by the now venerable James S. T. Stranahan who, although an octogenarian, still manages the business of this vast enterprise. The first warehouse was erected in 1844 and the first steam grain elevator in 1847. The docks are built upon spiles each about 25 feet in length, driven level with the original surface of the ground and imbedded in concrete. The dock walls are constructed of high granite blocks. The docks surrounding the basin are covered with brick and granite warehouses from three to five stories in height and about 100 feet deep and aggregating a ground area of about 20 acres. The basin contains four great piers, each about 80 feet in width and from 700 to 900 feet in length. Of these three are entirely covered in by huge storehouses. Wharf room is provided for 150 large sized vessels at once. The frontage line of the piers and basin measures about three miles in length. At low tide the water in the basin has a depth of 20 feet, making it possible for the greatest ocean steamers to load and unload here without danger of grounding. The entrance is 200 feet in width and is not closed by either gate or caisson as are the docks on the Mersey and Tharnes, it being possible for vessels to enter or leave the basin at the lowest tide. This is a unique and time saving advantage of this dock over the European ones. Seven of the largest grain elevators in Brooklyn are located on Atlantic Basin and all but one of them, Pinto's, are controlled by the New York Grain Warehousing Company. The gross capacity of these elevators is between seven million and eight million bushels, making this the greatest single grain depot in the world. The principal regular steamship lines which have their docks in the Atlantic Basin are: Barber and Co., the White Cross Line, the Bordeaux, the Union Line, the Azores and Lisbon hues, Compagnie Nationale de Navigation a Vapeur (Marseilles Line), the Portugese Line, New York and Porto Rico Line, and the Atlantic and Pacific Line. A comprehensive view of Atlantic Docks will be found on page 3 which will give a clear idea of the location of the various wharves and warehouses. In addition to the regular lines of steamships hundreds of others belonging to the irregular or tramp class unload and receive their cargoes at these docks. Scores of canal boats are always to be found in the neighborhood of the grain elevators being lightened of their burdens. The continuous moving of shipping in and out of the basin and the bustling and puffing of a dozen saucy little tug boats give the scene a busy and very interesting aspect. No stranger to Brooklyn should leave the city without first visiting these docks, which may be easily reached by the Hamilton avenue and Van Brunt street car fines, and by the Third and Atlantic avenue lines and their connections as well as by several other routes.
Piers and Warehouses of Brooklyn.
Erie Basin Break Water connected by boat with Beard's Stores. Long Dock.
Wm. Mackay & Sons' Dry Docks.
Pier 1, Erie Basin, Balance Dry Dock.
Provincial Dry Dock, Pier 2 Erie Basin.
Pier 2, Erie Basin.
Sullivan's Stores & Dock.
Pier 4, Erie Basin.
Ender's Spar Yard.
Erie Basin Dry Docks & Ship Yard.
Storage Yard, Richards' Store
New Pier, Richards' Store.
Covered Pier, Richards' Store
Beard's Store and Elevator.
Van Brunt St.
New York Warehousing Co.
Burtis' Ship Yard.
Merchants' Stores Van Dyke's.
German American's Stores.
Johnson & Hammond's Rosin Yard.
Mutual Company's Lumber Yard,
Roosevelt & McDonald, ft. of Walcott St.
Strahan's Tobacco Inspection.
Atlantic Basin contains:
North Pintis Finth's Elevator.
North Central Pier.
East Central Pier.
Commercial Wharf, Masters Elevator.
Franklin Stores & McCorraick's Stores.
Clinton Wharf Laimbeer's Elevator.
South Central Pier.
List of shipping lines with ports in Red Hook, Brooklyn, as listed in the The Citizen guide to Brooklyn and Long Island, 1893
TO BRITISH PORTS.
|To||Line||N. Y. CITY OFFICE||Pier|
|Avonmouth||Barber & Co||33 Broadway||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Avonmouth||Manhanset||19 Whitehall st||Columbia Stores, Bklyn|
|Centro comercial Moctezuma||Allan-State||53 Broadway||Columbia Stores, Bklyn|
|Centro comercial Moctezuma||Barber & Co||33 Broadway||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
TO NORTH EUROPEAN PORTS.
|Line||N. Y. CITY OFFICE||Pier|
|Amsterdam||Barber & Co||33 Broadway||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Antwerp||White Cross||27 S. William st||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Antwerp||Antwerp||27 S. William st||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Bordeaux||Bordeaux||27 S. William st||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.
|Copenhagen||Barber & Co||35 Broadway||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Hamburg||Union||27 S. William st||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Rotterdam||Barber & Co||33 Broadway||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
SOUTH EUROPEAN AND MEDITERRANEAN PORTS
|Line||N. Y. CITY OFFICE||Pier|
|Azores||Empressa Insulana de Navagacao||150 Pearl St||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Azores Islands||Azores Islands||-||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Marseilles||Champagne National d'Navigationu||27 S. William st||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
|Portugal||Linha de Vapores Portuguezes||102 Broad Street||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.
TO SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICAN PORTS
|Line||N. Y. CITY OFFICE||Pier|
|Belize||Guatamala & Honduras||42 Exchange Place||Pinto Piers, Bklyn.|
TO SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICAN PORTS.
|Line||N. Y. CITY OFFICE||Pier|
|Hayti||Clyde S. S. Co||5 Bowiing Green||Robinson's Stores, Bklyn|
|Hayti||McCaldin Bros||79 Broad st||Robinson's Stores, Bklyn|
|Mexico||Ward's||113 Wall st||Woodruff Stores, Bklyn|
|Porto Rico||N.Y. & Porto Rico||76 Beaver st||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.
|San Domingo||Clyde||5 Bowling Green||Robinson's Stores, Bklyn|
|Redondo||Atlantic & Pacific||33 Broadway||Atlantic Docks, Bklyn.|
TO CANADIAN AND DOMESTIC PORTS
|Line||N. Y. CITY OFFICE||Pier|
|Charleston, S.C||Clyde S.S. Co||5 Bowling Green||Robinson's Stores, Bklyn|
|Halifax, N.S.||Red Cross||18 Broadway||Robinson's Stores, Bklyn|
|Pilley's Island||Red Cross||18 Broadway||Robinson's Stores, Bklyn|
|Wilmington, N.C.||Clyde S.S. Co||5 Bowling Green||Robinson's Stores, Bklyn|