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Hudson River Piers: 1910

Hudson River Piers: 1910

New York circa 1910. "Marine terminals -- Hudson River docks along West Street." Seen earlier (yet later) here. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

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West Street Building

Construction on the Cass Gilbert-designed West Street Building began 1905 and was completed in 1907. I found an article in Architectural Record that includes a photo of the outside of the building and a review by a critic. I highlighted the part where I think the critic says he likes the building. The article includes references to the "architectural problem" of skyscrapers. I wish I could make a sarcastic comment using the critic's writing style, but I have been trained not to write that way.

I found the original floorplans in a 1907 American Architect and Building News magazine. Click to embiggen.

Noise

A couple of other commenters mention the noise of this hustle and bustle. I would love to hear what it really sounded like. I'm sure it would have been loud in some way but I'm sure it would have been a very different noise than a similar scene today. Imagine how different it would have been without car engines, horns honking, airplanes overhead, sirens blaring, etc. Would have been mostly horses, voices, and boat whistles etc. I bet it would be nearly shocking to our modern ears to hear how quiet the "noise" would have really been, in comparison.

Apples to apples, then to oranges

I cropped the 1912 photo to make a better comparison to the 1910 photo. My reference points were the Lackawanna & Western RR building on the left and the Bull Durham sign on the right. Possibly it was a slow day in 1910, but things were definitely more crowded and hectic in 1912. In these days of shipping containers, it's difficult to figure out how what appears to be chaos all made sense. I'm sure it was loud and smelly.

Also, a Google Earth view today. My reference point is the still-standing West Street Building; I put a red line in the street in front of it. Just beyond is Ground Zero. Only 91 years, a little over one lifetime separates the days of horse-drawn wagons at the piers and the 9.11 attacks. Click to embiggen.

No Channel 13

Without radio, the vessels in this photo would rely on whistle signals to let the other ships know their intent. Can you imagine what it sounded like with just the ferry traffic?

[Marine wireless got its start in the 1890s; by the early 1900s the major shipping line docks had their own Marconi operators. - Dave]

True, they had radio but that was spark using morse code. I'm talking about short distance communication. When they pass, overtake or when backing they were required give a sound signal. Still done today but most just make their intentions known by VHF radio channel 13...."Take you on one whistle, Captain?" ( I intend to leave you on my port side), the other vessel acknowledges so everyone is on the same page.

"Bull" Durham

The name and image on that billboard have quite a story.

The North Carolina tobacco merchant who founded the Bull Durham brand took the Bull from Colman's English Mustard (based in Norwich, not Durham). The American company engaged in extended litigation to protect the trademark Bull.

The Durham NC baseball team was originally (1902) called the Durham Tobacconists, but fairly quickly rode the Bull too.

The hit 1988 baseball movie is named for the team, for which Kevin Costner ("Crash") and Tim Robbins ("Nuke") supposedly play while being romanced by Susan Sarandon.

One thing remains

That of course being New Jersey. The area changed dramatically around 1930 with the construction of the West Side Highway. Then the river traffic dried up (so to speak), then the piers went; but other than that ...

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