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New-York tribune. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, March 14, 1920, Image 74

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Way Lies Open to Make New York World's Greatest Port
But Efficiency of Handling Is
Necessary if Biggest Results
| Are To Be Achieved
By Fred B. Pitney
THE question of the develop?
ment of the Port of New
York is of supreme impor?
tance to the people of New
YoVfc. More than that.it is of supreme
importance to the nation. It involves
* the transfer of the ?enter of the
shipping industry of the earth from
England to America and with the
shipping industry the transfer of
financial supremacy from London to
New York.
Before the time of Cromwell the
Dutch were the great carriers of
the world's commerce, and Amster?
dam was the shipping and banking
center of the known world. Colbert,
the great finance minister of Louis
XIV, estimated that 16,000 out of e
total of 20,000 commercial bottoms
in his time were under the Dutch
flag. Cromwell by his shipping laws
transferred the mastery of the seas
from Holland to England, where il
has remained ever since, and wher
England became the world's ship
ping center London became th<
world's commercial, banking and in
surance center.
London is to-day, as she has beer
for 200 years, the world's chie:
consignment market. Raw mate
rials from every country in th<
world are shipped to London to b?
held in warehouses until the con
sumers of the world are ready t
buy them. The shippers are cr?dite?
with from 70 per cent to 80 pe:
cent of the market value of th
goods and the banks advance th
money against the warehouse re
coipts and bills of lading. The r?
maining 20 per cent or 25 per cent
less intcieat. commissions and wart
house charges, is realized as th
goods aro gradually sold and r?
shipped to the buyers.
New York's Chance
This consignment business is wha
makes the greatness of the Port o
London and the commercial great
ness of the' City of London. It i
possible because of the shipping it
cilities joined to the banking facil
ties. New York should become ai
other such port, provided the sarr
shipping and banking facilities ai
established here. The war has give
a great impetus to ihn practice (
?hipping goods to New York an
then ro^hipping from New York t
th?? final destina Hon. It remair
for Now York to take advantag
of these conditions and for Americ
to wrest the supremacy of the ser
fjom Britain.
In oidcr to accomplish this thei
mus? be a great unified policy i
port development adopted, and th?
is the object the New York-No
Jersey Port and Harbor Coinmissi?
if? intended to achieve. But it
a groat mistake to confuso ir
porlance with size in the quest?
of port development, fascinating ;
the "biggest-in-the-world" idea m?
be. In hia book, "Ports and Te
minai Facilities," Professor Roy
MncElwee has a map showing on
half of the Port of New York c
cupying one-half the page, whi
drawn to the same scale tho por
of Hamburg, Rotterdam, Liverpo<
London, Amsterdam, Bremen ai
Antwerp occupy the other half.
Professor MacElweo sayB:
"Instead of being a cause
pride, this is a sad commentary ?
the efficiency of New York as a poi
When we consider that each of t
other little dug-out-of-the-mud pot
has handled almost as much coi
merco as all of New York witho
breaking down, we realize that the
must be something wrong with t
Port of New York. Several Eui
pean ports, notably Marseilles, av?
ago yearly more than 1,500 tons
cargo transferred over every line
foot of equipped quay against 1
tons at New York. It is not si
that makes a port, but efficiency.'
Hauling and Handling
Efficiency 1? what the Port of N
York is badly in need of at t
present time. Size can come w:
time, and the time needed can
taken for the development of i
great policy, provided the pori as
exists is made to function 100 i
cent. Moreover, the bringing of
o'er out of the existing chaos woi
? not interfere with any future pli
for general development, but woi
simplif3T the execution of such pla
And the efficient operation of 1
Port of New York is of vital 1
portance to every one of the 7,0C
000 residents of the roetropolit
From the purely local viewpo
each consumer is concerned w
this question, ?t has been estim?t
that the average cost of hauling
ton of freight 240 miles ill t
United States is 74 cents, whil? t
cost of handling the same tos
freight at the terminals is 75 ojpr
But this is an avarage cost for t
whole country. A' concrete exatlr
of the enormity of terminal costil
, New York is given by Harwood ?
j Frost in his pamphlet "American
Terminal Conditions." Mr. Frost
cites the terminal ccsts in Ntew York
of $2.25 a ton on package freight
from Philadelphia, while the ninety
* mile rail haul from Philadelphia
costs only 27 cents a ton.
New York is a great terminal.
Nothing originates here. Every?
thing that is consumed here pays
freight and terminal charges, and
it lias been further estimated that
by the time an article reaches the
i consumer, by way of the middleman
and retailer, the terminal charge has
been trebled. Thus, every resident
of New York is directly interested
in the reduction of terminal charges
by the efficient operation of the port.
It is a question that directly affects
the cost of living.
The inefficiency of the Port of New
York, from the special point of view
of terminal charges?and from most
railroad freight charges were $.3.50,
but the drayajje in New York, due
chiefly to delay in getting on the
pier, was $14.
Costs $50,000,000 Yearly
It is estimated that more than
40,000 vehicles are constantly en?
gaged in trucking'to piers and ter?
minals on the lower West Side of
Manhattan. The trucking costs for
Manhattan are estimated at ? min?
imum of $50,000,000 a year, all of
which is ultimately distributed
among the consumers, while an effi?
cient organization of the Port of
New York would reduce these truck?
ing /costs by two-thirds, or more than
$88,250,000 a year, a direct saving
of that sum each year on the cost
of living for the population of New
The cause of this congestion that
adds so frightfully to the burden of
living in New York is lack of con?
centration and duplication of serv?
ice, and the chief factor in the dupli?
cation is the railroad situation at
the Port of New York, and the rail?
road situation is the perpetuation of
abuses founded in the historical
growth of the port and its railroad
Thirteen railroads feed the Port
New Yor
to a steamer. This waste motion is
not all. The many lighters clutter
the slip, interfere with each other,
and the entire time and effort of
removing one lighter and setting
another must be repeated for every
few tons of cargo loaded.
"The principle involved is that of
useless duplication of service with
increasing cost a ton, increasing con?
gestion and the uneconomical em?
ployment of a fleet of lighters many
times that which is otherwise neces?
The same description will apply
to the trucking situation. A truck
serving several different customers
must go to half a dosen different
railroad piers, with long waits at
each, collecting one or two parcels
at each, with the result that at the
end of the day it has accomplished
perhaps one-fourth of its allotted
task and is considerably less than
50 per cent loaded, while each cus?
tomer has experienced long and un?
necessary delays in the receipt of
goods, which may mean a loss of
anything from a few hundreds to
many th(gisands of dollars. If the
truck is delivering to the railroads,
knowing the interminable delays, it
will carry goods for one line only
and will be seen standing for hours
k's Extravagu
as comes here for the most tempo?
rary storage in transit, storage for
a few days only, and this adds an-,
other great element to the water
front congestion. Both the piers
and the marginal way have to be
used for storage purposes. Freight
that should be spread and sorted on
the piers for easy access is piled
high, with utter lack of system,
while packages wanted for imme?
diate delivery are buried deep un?
der tons of freight that is practi?
cally held in storage, and the huge
mass overflows into the marginal
way and blocks the road for the
Belt Line Needed
Then, there is the lack of belt line
facilities for the rapid and efficient
movement of freight from point to
point. And this suggests at once
the first remedy to be applied to the
situation at the Port of New York.
The objections to a belt line rail?
way for Manhattan are many and
obvious, and this leaves a lighter belt
line to take its place.
Professor MacElwee says, "All
hope of improvement is inseparable
from the question of competitive
versus union marine terminals."
And further along: "There is no
it Waste of Pi
Service to the government ships and
deliver only full lighters to those
ships. A belt lighterage system
would mean the same rule applied
all over the harbor, but it would
mean, as well, an economical and
efficient system of delivering local |
freight, for a belt lighterage system
would handle not only through
steamer freight but all freight com?
ing into the port.
There are several parts to a belt
lighterage sy?.tern for relieving the
congestion at this port. Beginning
on the Jersey side, there would have
l.o be first a concentration and classi?
fication of freight. The railroads
would have to consent, or be forced,
to adopt a union terminal system,
and this would mean, ultimately if
not immediately, a union belt line !
railway on the New Jersey meadows
connecting all the railways on that
aide. Whenever such a project is
put into effect the New York Cen?
tral stands ready to bring all its
Western freight down the west
ihore from Albany to Weehawken,
while the New Haven would take
the majority of its freight across
.he Poughkeepsie bridge and so to
On the Jersey side steamer
freight would be separated from
>rt Room
_?__- __._??<???
Enormous Waste of Time and
Money Accrues From Delays
Due to Poor Dock Facilities
i at the zone freight stations an
outgoing freight would be lightere
to Jersey in 100 per cent lightt
loads, there to be distributed to th
various railroads through the unio
clearing house. Outgoing steame
freight would be drayed or lightere
to the steamers frorr% the local St*
tions in drays or lighters loaded 10
per cent.
The projected vehicular tunnel ur
der the Hudson will ultimately har
die the major part of the freight fo
local consumption, and when tha
tunnel comes into service the zon
freight stations established for th
belt lighter service would be use
for the tunnel service and thus sav
the congestion of the tunnel by 1
pereent loaded trucks.
A belt line railway on the Jerse;
meadows is a necessary integral par
of such a system, but it is not nee
essary to' wait for it to install th
belt lighterage service, with 100 pe
other points of view, as well?is due
to water front congestion, and the
main point of attack of the problem
is the North River, as that is the
most important section of the water
front, and the solution of that prob?
lem would carry with it, at least, a
partial solution of the problems of
most of the other sections.
North River water front conges?
tion is of both water borne and land
traffic?lighters and drays. The
spectacle ia presented six days a
week of tho North River slips
irowded with lighters of from 800
;o 700 tons capacity but rarely
.oaded 100 per cent and frequently
carrying only twenty or thirty tons,
:rying to push their way in to pier
jr vessel to deliver one or two
oackages, while other lighters,
oaded with equally conspicuous dis
'?gard of business principles, are
vaiting in the stream for their turn
o crowd into the congested pockets,
lighters sometimes lose several days
Tying to get where they ave wanted,
'n a recent cas? a lighter missed
i delivery to a steamer and had to
?old the freight for five day?, with
?esulting demurrage charges of |75
i day. This is only one of hun
Ireds of such instances. The waste
?f lighter service, by this inefficiency
>f the port, is as though more than
?alf the lighters of the harbor were
:on3tantly ?ied up by strikes of their
On shore the same conditions are
o be seen with regard to trucks
nd drays. Long lines of trucks
??ait for hours to reach the piers.
L two-ton truck, carrying, perhaps,
??o packages weighing 400 pounds
ach, will wait four hours to- de
ver one of the packages at one pier
id then have to wait another four
)urs to deliver the second package
; another pier two blocks away. On
recent freight shipment from the
est f<jr an outgoing steamer, the
of New York, of which eleven have
their land ends in New Jersey.
Fifty per cent of the ocean freight
arriving at New York passes on
into the interior. Seventy-five per
cent of the entire carrying business
of New York is for domestio com?
merce and is chiefly carried by th.
railroads. The thirteen railroads en
1 tering New York are all compethif
I for this business, and the building
I up of the railroad rate structur.
with the differentials and the equal
izing of rates has left the terminal;
as the only point of competition
Hence, New York with its thirteei
competing railroads has become thir
teen separate railroad ports instea?
of one unified port.
From Pier 1 to Pier 48 Nortl
River, 47.9 per cent of the wate
front is occupied by the railroad
Each railroad maintains its ow.
lighterage service and no road wll
serve any other line with its Hghter.
The principle involved is that th
railroad will absorb wharfage, Ugh.
erage, switching and other termin.
charges in the through freight rat
of tonnage carried over its own line
but cannot do so on freight tram
ported to or from the interior ove
the lines of a rival company.
How It Works
The practical effect is describe
by Professor MacEIwee, who say_
"Now, consider a ship lying at hf
berth and receiving freight by ligh
ers. Her cargo arrives over all tl
roads coming to New York. Eac
railroad must send freight alongsic
by lighter. Usually many of ti
railroads have only a carload or tv,
for a particular steamer* Only
few tons are loaded onto the dee
of a lighter capable of carrying se'
eral hundred?, tons. The enti.
lighter and tug equipment for se
eral hundred tons is occupied in d
livering as little as two or'three toi
-. . "-'-?-?-'?-:-fr
rruiS map, from MacElivee's "Ports and Terminal 'Fac?i
?*? ties" McGraw-Hill Co., New York, is drawn to scale, and
shows that the docke of New itork occupy almost exactly the
same amount of space as the comhined docks of Liverpool,
London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Bremen, Rotterdam* and
Antwerp. Yet each of these ports handles almost as much
J in West Street, carrying no more
than 10 per cent of its normal load,
while thousands of other trucks in
the same case stretch out before and
| behind it.
! It is this railroad situation that is
i the chief factor In the congestion
i at the Port of New York, but it is
' by no means the only factor. In
I the same Bpace on the North River
I in which the railroads take 47.9 per !
I cent of the water front, the Sound
steamers occupy 10 per cent and
! coastwise steamers X5.6 per cent of
the front. It is estimated that the
Sound steamers make 20,000 extra
miles a year by rounding the Bat?
tery to the North River, instead of
having their pierfl on the East River.
Another cause for congestion is
narrow piers, unequipped mechani
| cally for the rapid and efficient han
i dling of freight and lacking room
, for handling and sorting freight.
This is a condition that makes in?
evitably for congestion? Freight) ia
necessarily dumped indiscriminately
on the piers, and jt may be necessary
to move two or three carloads of
packages to get one or two parcels
for a waiting truck. Of course, the
truck waits and waits and waits.
Added to the inability of the piers
to function in the manner of com?
ponent parts of an adult port is the
Jack of warehouse facilities. New
York can never become a great con?
signment port, rivaling London and
contesting with it for the com?
mercial supremacy of the world, un?
til it has the facilities for handling
consignment freight cheaply and
swiftly. At the present time it has
not warehouses even for such freiahl
_I_ )
hope of relief from duplication of
facilities and equipment and con?
gestion on the water front of both
sides of the river until some differ?
ent arrangement has been made. The
present competition at the terminals
and the present absorption of all
cost above an arbitrary amount for
lighterage service must be changed.
The solution must be a union lighter?
age service and a union switching
service under one port authority and
connecting all part? of the port on
equal terms. At New York, owing
to Its peculiar conditions, the belt
railroad and the belt lighterage
must be one organization. The move?
ment of carload and lests than oar
load lots at the port would begin
at the New Jersey meadows. Foi
the service the belt line company
would receive a certain rate. Thii
?vould be more than the present thre<
:ents (allowed by the Interstate Com
tnerce Comraiieion bs the lighter
age ?barge at New York on throug]
Ereighfc), but the railroads could we]
?fford to pay more to the belt lim
jecauee they would save all the!
equivalent present terminal expense?
?vhioh are unnecessarily heavy. Th
jelt line could perform the s?Jjrric
it a lower rate than the presen
:osts to the individual railroad
ind to the public."
The army; transport servios i
he New York district during th
var indicated what a belt ?ightei
ige system would do for the por
V ruling was made?-hot to sa?
Ighter equipment but to avoid coi
restfon and save time?that the rai
?alb tfewftld pool their lighterag
._ . .--.-'
freight for local consumptio
Steamer freight would be classifh
according to the line, pier and vessi
?while local freight would be class
fied according to the delivery zoi
of the consignee.
The next step would be a unifl
lighter service for bringing freig
across the North River and to i
parts of the harbor. All lighters
this service would carry freig
from all the distribution stations
the Jersey side without discrimir
tion and would deliver to all desigr
tions without discrimination. _
lighter would make a trip with 1?
than a full load.
Ten Delivery Zones
On the New York,side the c
would be divided into delivery zoi
for freight distribution and coll
tion, and in each of these eoi
tnere would be a freight station :
the distribution and collection
freight. There would be specif
landing piers for freight for lc
consumption, designated accord
to the delivery zones they serv
The city would be divided into
proximately ten delivery ?sones, v
the freight stations and land
piers distributed along both
North and East rivers. It is e
mated that such a rearrangemen'
.reight delivery and collection wt
aot only relieve the congestion 1
is now concentrated in the V
Street district, but would sav?
:he neighborhood of ?wo-thIrda
Jie dray mileage under the pre.
ack of system.
Steamer freight carried by
-ailroads would be lightered
iteamers and steamer piers in
>er cent lighter loads, regardles
he railroad from which the fre
The foregoing would apply
loth incoming and outgoing frei
)utgoing freight would be class
i. ! cent loaded lighters, and the zone
d '? distribution of freight on the New
1, ? York side of the port. The belt
i- ; lighterage and freight zone distri
e ! bution parts of the scheme could
i be put into effect immediately and
d ! linked up with the belt railway
t when it is built.
il j In the same way, modern piers
a I with up-to-date installations for
t.-i handling freight are a dire need
a j here, but it is not required to wait
- j for long and tedious building opera
- j tions to use to the best advantage
j ! what we have under our hands.
s ? There always will be a considera
\ ble amount of congestion in the
small and restricted piers that now
obstruct this port, but a large
r amount of that congestion can be
i relieved by a proper distribution oi
the traffic.
s Pier construction, as known ir
r New York, is the most econ?mica:
r water front, but there is no reasox
I j for continuing to be hampered bj
I j the historical origin of the narrov
, j piers. A modern pier requirea t
' ! transit shed where the cargo of i
. j ship unloading can be spread ou
t : and Assorted according to marks an?
. consignees. There must be spac
? | enough.to accommodate the carg
, | without piling it more than shoul
r ; der high, as piling and tiering to i
[ j greater height is very expensive an
; j time consuming. The shed must b
; | large enough in ?re? to hold th
cargo of the largest ship using th
pier. The shed must accommod?t?
at the same time, the outgoing carg
of the ship, as when a ship arriv.
in port it cannot wait until its di
charged cargo is carted away to b<
gin loading.
The loss on a ship lying idle i
port runs into thousands of dolla:
a day. Hence, there must be roo
in the transit shed for the ou
going cargo to be assembled b
forehand and sorted according
d i th? ports of destination an?i
d ; nature of the goods. The sieved,?,
r | can work rapidly and load corr^
c only when the cargo can be lo*;
n : and stowed in proper seqa,*
r Stowing according to the pork
d j destination is very important ^
- ? the vessel is to call at several w
0 ; Up-to-date mechanical ?equipm??
'?' one of the most important adjus,
. ! to rapid and efficient loading *
_ ? unloading of vessels at pi??r?j.
r| Double dcclring, cargo to be *
11 loaded onto the lower deck *
e | loaded from the upper deck, &(
e ' plan most favored for increjjj
1 i the pier accommodation of \\
s ; York. But in connection with
) | creased pier accommodation n
| the need for convenient warehot
f j facilities. The pier shed is the n
11 ervoir to hold a shipload for o
- j sailing, while the warehouse systi
> j is the reservoir for months and ?
r j sons. One of the causes of |
j present collapse of the Port of K
! York is insufficiency of warehoi
; space combined with lack of m
1 in the pier sheds to hold a full no]
| Already overcrowded pier shedu
| forced into service as warehoty
i According to H. R. Gedd?ss, ? ?
j known British expert on ports, ?
; Antwerp authorities figure on
warehouse capacity one and o!
half times the cargo capacity oft
port. However, this capacity ?
in some cases fall below the ne?
of a port,
Eliminate the Dray
! In the choice of site for the ws
1 house the aim should be to elimin
I the use of the dray for every mo
I ment of freight except local de
i ery. The warehouse should h
! rail connection with the interior)
? lighter connection with th? renn
j der of the harbor waters. wl
! water side location is not pots
! without decreasing the area st
able for vessels of deep draft ti
j should be access to the water fti
j There should be a physical com
i tion between the warehouse and
j pier. *
There are several warehouse i
? terns that can be applied to dif
| ent parts of the Pott of New Yi
but the most pressing and at
| same time the most difficult pi
lern is Manhattan Island. An '?
plan, perhaps, would be tbe do;
decking of the marginal way
West Street, giving a physical t
nection between the piers am
system of storage warehouse?
ing West Street on the east !
But this would entail an outlay
a minimum of $250,000,000. A
costly system and one that wonk
.; the same time promise relief fi
present conditions would be W
; houses in connection with the i
freight stet ions and landing P
of *-he belt lighterage system. T
would be both conveniently
economically placed for railr
freight, while steamer cargoes cc
. be lightered to them in 100 peri
. loads.
The great dependence ef !
York on lighter traffic should
an additional incentive to ?tnot
I opportunity offered for the n
! of pier congestion In the estaW
ment of ship berths at dolphins
mooring posts for midstream 1<
ing. During the war midst*
loading was practiced both bed
of the lack of pier room and
leading high explosives and so
nition. Professor MacElwe? ?
"A ship at anchor, swinging *t
moorings with every change of I
and tide, is at a disadvantage? ??
simple anchoring requires too n
room. At the Port of New.1
there is plenty of area in th? ?J
bay, where the driving of ro?
dolphins and dredging to ecco?
date the largest ships would be i
Must Simplify Coaling
Coaling should be simplified
expedited for ships in this port
vessels will give up the time P*
sary to leave their berths, go '
particular point in the harboi
take on bunker coal and retur
their loading berths. Coaling
loading cargo must go on at
same time. That means that ?
must be coaled from lighters,
there is no reason why dict?t?
stevedores and rival coal comp?
should be allowed to combin?
force the Port of New York to i
to obsolete hand coaling inste?'
adopting modem mechanical
pliances by which ships could
at night when the loading of c
The problems of the Port of j
York are many and variouf?
those that deserve the first col
eration are the ones relating *?
congestion of the North River *
front. If that problem were ?
>ne would be tempted to s?f
;he future of t?e port was a*?
while if it is not solved the efl*
;ure of hundreds of millions?01
lirections would be money W*
ntn the nrtan.

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