Brooklyn’s Changing Waterfront

November 25, 2008 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment

1609 — Henry Hudson and crew anchor their ship, the Half moon, near what is now Coney Island before ascending what would be called the Hudson River. 1637 — Joris Jansen de Rapelye establishes a plantation on the Wallabout Bay, which is today the land occupied by the Brooklyn Navy Yard, located between Williamsburg and Dumbo.

1642- Cornelius Dircksen begins ferry service from Brooklyn to Manhattan. It consists of a rowboat and a horn, to announce arrivals and departures to farmers.

1655 — First Ferry house is built.

1704 — Ferry Road is laid out. “Four rod wide,” also known as Kings Highway, it streamlined the small country lanes of Brooklyn farm land into a main thoroughfare to the waterfront and Manhattan.

1748— Brooklynites burn a Ferry house to protest Manhattan’s control over both waterfronts.

1776 — George Washington and his troops escape the British across the East River via the Ferry Road landing in the Battle of Long Island during the Revolutionary War.

1801 — John Jackson sells 40 acres of his land on Wallabout Bay to the U.S. government to establish the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

1814 — The steam powered ferry, designed by Robert Fulton, is introduced, hastening commutes between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights, a neighborhood near the ferry landing, becomes the “first commuter suburb” in the US due to the convenience afforded by the superior transportation technology. Ferry Road is now called Fulton Street.

1825 — The Erie Canal opens and the flow of commerce is rerouted in New York’s favor. New York harbor now rapidly serves and connects markets in both Europe and the mid-western United States. Demand for dock space and warehouses increase exponentially. Brooklyn picks up where a crowded lower Manhattan is unable.

1850 — James T. Stranahan completes what Daniel Richards began ten years earlier, the Atlantic basin. A 17 acre, manmade harbor in present day Red Hook, it provided room for 150 ships. Hundreds of warehouses and grain terminals are built to accommodate the incoming cargo.

1862 — The “Monitor” is launched. Built in Greenpoint by Thomas F. Rowland, the iron war ship revolutionized naval warfare and spelled the end of the wooden man-of-war.

1866 — Gowanus Creek is expanded into Gowanus Canal, connecting Brooklyn’s burgeoning interior industries with Upper New York Bay and Gowanus Bay. By World War I, over six million tons of cargo was being transported on the canal annually.

1869 — William Beard completes the Erie Basin, surpassing the Atlantic Basin, it is the largest manmade harbor on the Eastern seaboard.

1869-’85 – The warehouse complexes, Furman, Empire, Van Brunt, Red Hook and Beard Street Stores are built. The Beard Street warehouses alone comprise 7.5 acres of storage. Brooklyn becomes known as “the walled city” due to the number of warehouses along its waterfront.

1870 — There are 14 separate ferry slips in Brooklyn.

1875 — More than fifty separate oil refineries line the East River from Williamsburg to Greenpoint, including Astral Oil which merged with Rockefeller’s Standard Oil the year before.

1883 — Brooklyn Bridge opens

1890 — A “smelling committee” is put together to monitor the condition of Newtown Creek which meets the East River running as a border between Brooklyn and Queens. Acme Fertilizer Co., Nichols Chemical Works, US & Canada Degreasing Syndicate and Long Island Agricultural & Chemical Co. all operate along the waterway. Its traffic approaches the Mississippi in volume.

1897 — The Brooklyn waterfront excels at yet another purpose: leisure. George C. Tilyou opens Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. It becomes the model of modern American amusement parks, hosting thousands of people of all classes and nationalities.

1903 — Williamsburg Bridge opens.

1909 — Manhattan Bridge opens.

1924 — 240 years of ferry Service from Fulton Street ends.

1940-45 — Approximately 66,000 people are employed to turn out war ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

1956 — The invention of the shipping container. This seemingly innocuous invention spells doom for Brooklyn’s shipping industry. Thousands of jobs for longshoremen are lost as loading costs are reduced by 95 percent due to the invention, which demands more inland space than Brooklyn has to offer.

1964 — Verrazano- Narrows bridge opens between Brooklyn and Staten Island. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time.

1966 — Brooklyn Navy Yard closes as a federal base.

1969 — The City of New York buys the Navy Yard, and forms the non-profit redevelopment organization named CLICK (Commerce Labor Industry Corporation of Kings).

1978 — Empire Fulton Ferry State Park opens on the site of Empire Stores warehouses in DUMBO. 1978 — Approximately 17 million gallons of oil are discovered to have spilled underneath Greenpoint, Brooklyn and in Newtown Creek, which separates Brooklyn from Queens.

1985 — Piers 1-5 along the Brooklyn Heights Waterfront closed to freight shipping. Dispute arises between the Port Authority, which wants housing there, and local activists who want a park.

2004 — Steiner Studios, a 15-acre Hollywood-style film production facility with the largest sound studio on the East Coast, opens in a section of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

2004 — A citizen action lawsuit is brought against Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco by citizens of Greenpoint for the oil spill, 25 years after it was discovered.

2004 — CPC Resources acquires the Domino Sugar Plant on the Williamsburg waterfront, beginning the process of its conversion into condos.

2005 — After centuries of industrial use, the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfronts are rezoned by the Department of City Planning to encourage residential buildings, with plans for a two-mile esplanade along the waterfront.

2006 – Fashion week holds a runway show in the tobacco warehouse of the old Empire Stores complex. 2006 — The Red Hook Cruise Ship terminal opens. The Cunard and Princess cruise lines agree to make Brooklyn their New York Harbor home.

2008 — An Ikea furniture opens in the Erie Basin docking area.

2008 — Construction begins at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the 1.3-mile-long, 85-acre park will run along the waterfront from Atlantic Avenue to north of the Manhattan Bridge.

Nov. 24, 2008 — The New York Times reports that the city is scrapping its plan for a glossy marina with condos, restaurants and retail at the Red Hook piers so that the city can maintain a maritime industry in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

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Entry filed under: Brooklyn, Go Coastal, Public Waterfront. Tags: , , , , .

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