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
|Archives & Special Collections,
Department of the Library, College of Staten Island, CUNY, Staten
Island, New York.
and The Narrows
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
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.
boats in New York Harbor. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs
Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.