Doc Chat Episode Ten: Along Brooklyn's Industrial Waterfront

By Julie Golia, Associate Director, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books and Charles J. Liebman Curator of Manuscri
December 11, 2020
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

On November 12, 2020, Doc Chatters traveled back in time to take a virtual stroll along Brooklyn’s 19th-century industrial waterfront. 

Atlantic Dock

William Wade, Atlantic Dock, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1851; NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 800700.

An ongoing series from NYPL's Center for Research in the Humanities, Doc Chat pairs a NYPL curator or specialist and a scholar to discuss evocative digitized items from the Library's collections and brainstorm innovative ways of teaching with them. In Episode Ten, NYPL curators Ian Fowler and Julie Golia analyzed maps, illustrations, and other primary sources from NYPL’s collections to look at the transformation of Brooklyn’s waterfront economy and built environment. 

Doc Chat Episode 10: Along Brooklyn's Industrial Waterfront from The New York Public Library on Vimeo.

A transcript of this event is available here.

Below are some handy links to materials and sources suggested in the episode. 

Episode Ten: Primary Sources

Ian and Julie analyzed the following maps:

New Map of that part of the City of New York

New map of that part of the city of New York south from 20th Street on the Hudson & 35th Street on the East River : showing the position of Greenwich, Washington and West Streets on the Hudson River, and Pearl, Water, Front, Cherry & Tompkins Sts. on the

This map was issued in a 1862 report from the New York State Commissioners of the Land Office that is also in NYPL’s Collection: 

Report of the Commissioners of the Land Office relative to New York harbor encroachments, to Robert Campbell, president of the Senate, Jan. 9, 1862.

Map A of West Washington Market

Hoffman, Knickerbocker, & Co., Map (A) of West Washington Market: Containing 208,036 square feet, 1862. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID 5056948.

Map of Property, New York Dock Company Warehousemen

J.W. Galbreath, Map of property, New York Dock Company Warehousemen, 1911. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 5003326.

Episode 10: Reading and Resources 

Robert G. Albion, The Rise of New York Port, 1815-1860 (Scribner, 1970).

Charles B. Barnes, The Longshoremen (Russell Sage Foundation, 1915).

Kevin Bone, ed., The New York Waterfront: Evolution and Building Culture of the Port and Harbor (Monacelli Press, 1997).

Joshua Brown and David Ment, Factories, Foundries, and Refineries: A History of Five Brooklyn Industries (Brooklyn Educational & Cultural Alliance, 1980).

Daniel Campo, The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned (Oxford University Press, 2013). 

Brian Cudahy, Around Manhattan Island and Other Maritime Tales of New York (Fordham University Press, 1997).

William DiFazio, The Longshoremen: Community and Resistance on the Brooklyn Waterfront(Bergin & Garvey, 1985).

Marc Levinson, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (Princeton University Press, 2008).

Ernest Poole, The Harbor (Grosset and Dunlap, 1915).

Malka Simon, “’The Walled City’: Industrial Flux in Red Hook, Brooklyn, 1840–1920.” Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2010), 53-72. (accessible with a valid NYPL library card)

Ted Steinberg, Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

Henry R. Stiles, A History of the City of Brooklyn including the Old Town and Village of Brooklyn, the Town of Bushwick, and the Village and City of Williamsburgh, three volumes (Brooklyn, 1870).

Waterfront, exhibition at the Center for Brooklyn History (formerly Brooklyn Historical Society).

Brooklyn Waterfront History, place-based digital exhibition from Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Center for Brooklyn History (formerly Brooklyn Historical Society). 

Check out the following institutions committed to preserving the history and culture of Brooklyn’s waterfront. 

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