An online project under the direction of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Historical Materials: New York City Locales, Businesses, & Buildings
You have navigated to this pages from catalog entry: New York Harbor, c.1855 (inv. 46)
New York Harbor
New York City's large population and busy harbor meant that in the mid-nineteenth century it served as the largest domestic market for American products as well as the supplier for most of the export goods for the United States. In 1850 its population was larger than that of Philadelphia and nearly five times as large as that of Boston. (1)
The large broad harbor of New York, easily accessible from the Atlantic, encouraged foreign trade. But it also provided access to western New England and upstate New York via the Hudson River and southern New England via Long Island Sound. Between 1841-1850 New York handled an average of 60% of the U.S. imports and 30.5% of exports. (2) Piers, wharves, and docks ringed the south end of Manhattan: in 1850 over 60 on the East River served the foreign trade, while the 50 or more on the Hudson were filled with steamships and river boats to go up the river. (3) New York kept its position as the largest American seaport through its role as a market, a financial center, and its important position in the trade routes, but another advantage was its low wharfage rates. Although the wharves were notorious for their poor condition, in 1852 the cost to unload 1700 bales of cotton over two days in Boston or Baltimore was $68 while at a Hudson River pier it cost a mere $4.88. (4)
See also: Robert Albion, The Rise of New York Port [1850-1871], David & Charles, 1971.
(1) Edward Spann, The New Metropolis: New York City 1840-1857, Columbia University Press, 1981, p.430.
(2) Spann p.436.
(3) Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, Oxford University Press, 1999, p.652.
(4) Burrows & Wallace, p.654
Johnson, H. and Lightfoot, F.S.: Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs, Dover Publications, Inc., New York
The New York pilot boats would sail out to meet large incoming ships, flying the blue and white flag. The pilot would board the large ship and guide her into harbor. On outgoing trips the pilot boat would pick up the pilot after the ship in his charge had cleared the harbor.
Gloucester Telegraph, p. 2, col. 1
American Antiquarian Society
"F.H. Lane, Esq., with characteristic generosity has loaned some of his grand paintings to increase the interest of the occasion. A look at the Stiff Breeze in New York Harbor, one of the finest of his fine productions, and enough in itself to secure him enduring fame, is worth many times over the price of the admittance fee. A sailor could scarecely gaze upon the brig going in stays, without every moment expecting to hear the command given to 'let go and haul.'"
Telegraph and News
p. 2 column 2
"Fine Picture– Mr. F. H. Lane has placed in the Marine Insurance Office a very handsome picture of New York Harbor, which he has just completed. All sorts of vessels are represented in the foreground, with every particular rope in its proper place while in the background is the city with its forests of masts around the wharves it is truly a fine specimen of his artistic skill."
35 x 25 cm. on sheet 48 x 30 cm.
Published by Magnus & Co.
New York Public Library
Covers Manhattan up to 34th Street on the west side and 51st Street on the east side. Includes views of New York City and Harbor, and Trinity Church above the upper neat line. Also includes list of churches, hotels, and places of amusement.