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Happy Birthday Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

History boy wise, one makes it a point of keeping track of certain things, and especially so when it involves one of the organizations that make life possible within the megalopolis. Centered on the Statue of Liberty, if you were to draw a 25 mile long line on a map of New York Harbor, then rotate it into a circle that encompasses roughly 1,500 square miles… you’d begin to form an idea of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s turf.

The first organization of its kind, and created on this day in 1921; Port Authority oversees tunnels, airports, cargo ports, sea ports, bridges, has an impressive real estate portfolio including the World Trade Center pictured above, operates train and bus stations, it’s own subway and freight rail lines, and operates a 1,700 member police organization which – in any other City – would be enormous.

As a note – PANYNJ is how the rest of this post is going to refer to the organization.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the PANYNJ’s George Washington Bridge pictured above.

Conflicts between the neighboring states of NY and NJ were a serious issue in the years leading up and including WW1, with squabbles over jurisdiction and competition for Federal funding getting in the way of “Progress” during the Progressive era. Modern day “progressives” don’t actually understand the term, I’m afraid. Back when it was coined, it was about streamlining and improving Government services, eliminating political corruption, and the scientific management of Government capital and resources to reduce wasted or duplicate effort. PANYNJ was formed specifically in the name of “Progress,” and to ensure economic growth in the bustling harbor cities of our archipelago.

Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson were the national figures leading this “Progressive” movement which gave birth to the high priests of “Progress” a generation later – Robert Moses, Austin Tobin, the Rockefeller brothers; David and Nelson. All saw the so called “middle class” as the key to American prosperity and growth, and they spent their lives creating institutions and infrastructure to promulgate an expansion of this demographic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s PANYNJ’s Port Elizabeth Newark Global Marine Terminal pictured above, a small part of the third largest cargo port in the United States. After Wall Street, the actual wealth of NYC and NYS is entirely predicated on maritime trade. The Real Estate Industrial Complex of NYC is a comparative midget when you look at the economics of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Literally tens of billions of dollars of trade move through the facilities, with lots and lots of tax revenue extracted along the way.

The PANYNJ’s role in all this economic activity is to facilitate the physical plant of the port, ensure passage into the harbor via various maintenance functions like dredging and bridge maintenance and sometimes replacement, and to work with local shareholders. PANYNJ is authorized to issue bonds, borrow money, and act fairly independently of the political regimes in both states (although that last one is fairly debatable).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Outerbridge Crossing on the Arthur Kill, named for Eugenius Outerbridge of the New York Port Authority (which predates PANYNJ).

Bridges and Hudson River crossings owned and operated by PANYNJ include Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, GW Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, Goethals Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing. They also run the PATH subway service, Port Authority and GW Bridge Bus Terminals. PANYNJ also owns the Expressrail network in New Jersey, a freight rail system.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

PANYNJ also operates NYC’s airports; including LaGuardia (pictured above), JFK, Newark, Atlantic City, Stewart International, and Teterboro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been one hell of a 98 years for this organization, huh?

This history boy, for one, looks forward to their centennial.


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Maritime Sunday returns,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, whilst out and moving about the great human hive, a luckless individual found their way into my company and posited the query to me “that you always show the tugboats with these enormous structures on the dock, but never explain what they are. Do you not know what they are?”. People like to accuse me of ignorance, continually, presuming that they may have punctured some perceptual bubble in which they presume me to live.

Blow my mind, as it were. Fools.

from wikipedia

Container cranes consist of a supporting framework that can traverse the length of a quay or yard, and a moving platform called a “spreader”. The spreader can be lowered down on top of a container and locks onto the container’s four locking points (“cornercastings”), using a twistlock mechanism. Cranes normally transport a single container at once, however some newer cranes have the capability to pick up two to four 20-foot containers at once.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The neat thing about all the equipment used in ports, especially the big old container cranes, is that its all mobile and self actuating. Everything is built on wheels. The bits of kit which I’m continually drawn to are actually the straddle carriers, which buzz around in their multitudes like worker bees handling and stacking the containers which their larger counterparts are unloading from the ships.

from wikipedia

A straddle carrier is a non road going vehicle for use in port terminals and intermodal yards used for stacking and moving ISO standard containers. Straddles pick and carry containers while straddling their load and connecting to the top lifting points via a container spreader. These machines have the ability to stack containers up to 4 high. These are capable of relatively low speeds (up to 30 km/h or 18.6 mph) with a laden container. The workers that use this machinery sit at the very top seated facing the middle as they can see behind them and in front of them. Straddle carriers can lift up to 60 t (59 long tons; 66 short tons) which equals up to 2 full containers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The psychology of the folks who challenge me thusly is unknown. Sometimes it’s an expert on the subject who is attempting to “out” someone they perceive as an amateur. Others times, one gets the feeling that it brings the petitioner some sort of joy to see a humble narrator hoisted upon his own petard as his ignorance is exposed. Here’s the deal lords and ladies, and it’s been this way since the day I started this endless series of postings- If I’m wrong about something, please correct it. I’m the first one to admit when I screw up, and strive to learn something new at every turn.

Comments and corrections are always welcome here, and if I don’t know anything about a particular subject the first person to publicly proclaim ignorance is myself. On the other hand, if you just want to bust my balls for the sake of it…

Anyway, Maritime Sunday.

from wikipedia

Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal is a major component of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Located on the Newark Bay it serves as the principal container ship facility for goods entering and leaving New York-Newark metropolitan area, and the northeastern quadrant of North America. It consists of two components – Port Newark and the Elizabeth Marine Terminal (sometimes called “Port Newark” and “Port Elizabeth” respectively) – which exist side-by-side and are run conjointly by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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