archives and special collections, college of staten island, cuny
title: arches of steel, image of verrazano-narrows bridge

| home | the narrows | from transportation asset to barrier | winning support for the bridge |
| construction | dedication | assessment | image gallery | bibliography | credits |

THE NARROWS

First View of the Narrows by Europeans

Searching for a route to Cathay, Giovanni da Verrazano, entered New York harbor in 1524 and is credited as the first European explorer in the area. His reconnaissance was quite brief, but he did note, “We found a pleasant place below steep little hills. And from among those hills a mighty, deep-mouthed river ran into the sea.”

 

image of giovanni da verrazano

Giovanni da Verrazano (c. 1485-c.1528) Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
LCUSZ62-47871

The maps of New York harbor that began appearing in Europe as early as 1570, were based on the explorations of Portuguese sailor Estéban Gómez, under the employ of Spain’s King Charles V. However, it was Henry Hudson who recognized the area’s potential for development when he arrived in the harbor on September 3, 1609 and by the 1620s the Dutch fur trade based in New Netherland had begun.



Archives & Special Collections, Department of the Library, College of Staten Island, CUNY, Staten Island, New York.

Transportation and The Narrows

The harbor quickly became a center of transportation in the New World with ships not only traveling to and from Holland, the West Indies, and Brazil, but also along the coast of America and up the Hudson. For the average Staten Islander, however, trade was often easier with nearby New Jersey than with Manhattan. Rowboat ferry service with New Jersey was established in 1661. However, the first regular service between South Ferry and Staten Island did not commence until 1713.

Ferry service tended to be expensive into the mid-nineteenth century. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who had earned the honorary title, “Commodore,” during the War of 1812 by operating ferries between the Battery and Staten Island, broke the Fulton-Livingston ferry monopoly in 1825. His People’s Line was soon followed by a number of other lines, bringing about competitive fares that aided in the development of Staten Island. Canal construction in New York State added to the volume of water transportation into and out of New York Harbor.

image of sloop boats in the harbor
Sloop boats in New York Harbor. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

| home | the narrows | from transportation asset to barrier | winning support for the bridge |
| construction | dedication | assessment | image gallery | bibliography | credits |

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