April 17, 2004
City in Deal to Restore Piers to Former Port-of-Call Glory
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Royal Caribbean International's cruise ship Adventure of the Seas, as it prepared to dock on the West Side of Manhattan in November 2001.
New York City and two major cruise lines have agreed on the outline of a deal that would guarantee 10 years of dockings and huge fees, enabling the city, in turn, to carry out a $150 million redevelopment of the frayed passenger ship terminals on Manhattan's West Side and to build a new cruise ship terminal on the Brooklyn waterfront, an executive familiar with the arrangement said yesterday.
The disclosure of the arrangement comes as the city prepares for the arrival of the new $800 million Queen Mary 2, the world's largest passenger ship and first trans-Atlantic liner to be built in 30 years. The 1,132-foot vessel, carrying more than 2,600 passengers, is scheduled to arrive in New York on Thursday. Matt Lauer of NBC's "Today" show will broadcast from the ship.
The Queen Mary 2 is to dock at the West Side Passenger Terminal, where its stern will jut 132 feet beyond the pier's end into the Hudson, an incongruity that is increasingly part of the problem of New York and its docks. The West Side terminal, last renovated in 1970, is far too small and too poorly equipped to handle either the number or size of the cruise ships of today and tomorrow.
During the cruise season, from May to October, as many as 10,000 passengers a day may debark and embark simultaneously. Passengers and cruise lines have long complained that the piers present a crumbling and decrepit portal to glittering Manhattan.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
The Queen Mary 2
Cruises from Brooklyn
Cruise line to open Bayonne terminal
Last edited by Kris; March 12th, 2006 at 12:06 PM.
Designing a pier would be right up Santiago Calatrava's alley. And pretty straightforward.
April 19, 2004
Mayor announces improvements for cruise ship lines
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced agreements with two cruise ship companies Monday to make improvements to the main terminal on the west side of Manhattan and to create a new pier for cruise liners in Brooklyn.
Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival Corporation signed letters of intent with the city to pay a minimum of $200 million in port charges through 2017 to support the improvements.
The city will spend $150 million to renovate the terminal on Manhattan's west side, which was completed in 1935 and has not had a major renovation since the 1970s.
"These unique agreements represent the cruise industry's confidence in the growth of this market," Bloomberg said during a press conference at the terminal, which includes piers 88, 90 and 92 along the Hudson River.
"There's no question that New York City's cruise industry is embarking on a fantastic new course, and the result will be new jobs, new economic activity and the redefinition of New York City as a first-class passenger ship destination."
During the next four years, the city plans to create four berths for cruise ships and will separate arriving passengers from those disembarking onto different levels in order to reduce congestion.
The city will also build a pedestrian bridge across the West Side Highway for passengers coming and going from the Manhattan cruise terminal.
Once the renovations are complete in 2009, the terminal will be able to accommodate three large cruise ships at the same time, officials said.
The Brooklyn terminal will be built in Red Hook.
The agreements call for the two cruise lines to bring at least 13 million passengers to the city through 2017. In return, Norwegian and Carnival will receive preferential berths. The city will also give the cruise lines fee reductions in exchange for volume and revenue guarantees.
"We are impressed by the city's commitment to the cruise industry, which recognizes the industry's significant economic impact on New York," said Norwegian Cruise Lines president and CEO Colin Veitch.
Veitch said the company will make the city its primary home port in the continental U.S., and will offer cruises to Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda, New England and Canada.
During 2003, about 900,000 passengers came through the west side terminal, up from an average of 400,000 in the 1990s. The city hopes that number will increase to 1.5 million by 2017.
The city's Economic Development Corp. has estimated that the cruise industry provides the city with more than 3,300 jobs and $600 million worth of economic activity.
On the Net: NYC Passenger Ship Terminal: www.nypst.com
Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.
February 16, 2005
REGIONAL MARKET / MANHATTAN AND BROOKLYN
A Makeover for Cruise Ship Terminals
By SANA SIWOLOP
New York is beginning a vast $200 million effort to make itself more attractive, as well as more convenient, for modern cruising vessels and their luggage-laden passengers.
It has begun an overhaul of the 70-year-old passenger ship terminal on the West Side of Manhattan, which with its forbidding, industrial-like exterior, relatively narrow berths and antiquated waiting rooms has long needed an update. And next month, construction is scheduled to begin on a new 180,000-square-foot passenger cruise terminal in Brooklyn, a first for the borough.
As in many other cities, the cruise business in New York is growing, buoyed in part by faster ships and also by the attacks of Sept. 11, when many travelers began turning to local ports to eliminate both the headaches and the expense of having to fly to distant ports, like those in south Florida. According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, almost 900,000 cruise passengers passed through Manhattan's cruise terminal in 2003, up from an annual average of 400,000 during the 1990's.
In August 2003, the Economic Development Corporation began working with a Miami architecture and engineering company, Bermello, Ajamil & Partners, to draw up a master plan for both the Manhattan and Brooklyn terminals. The project is the Miami company's first large job in New York, but it has worked as a consultant to the Port of Miami for the last two decades and is now working on more than a dozen cruise terminals around the world, in cities like Hong Kong, St. Petersburg, Seattle and San Diego, according to Luis Ajamil, a founder of the firm.
Kate Ascher, the executive vice president for the infrastructure division at the Economic Development Corporation, said her agency considered three design firms for the projects, but decided to go with Mr. Ajamil's company because "we really needed planning and analysis."
"There are only a few premier cruise design firms in the world," she said, adding that a final design plan for the Manhattan terminal is expected by the end of the year.
In Manhattan, the biggest hurdle at the existing terminal, which sits along the Hudson River between West 47th and 53rd Streets, has long been a lack of space. Built in the early 1930's and last renovated in the early 1970's, the facility now has three finger piers - Piers 88, 90 and 92 - that are about 1,000 feet long and about 400 feet apart. A terminal building sits atop each.
The piers provide a total of five berths, but they were designed when cruise ships were often only about 80 feet in width. Modern ships now average about 136 feet, with some as wide as 142 feet, Mr. Ajamil said. As a result, he said, two modern vessels can no longer fit comfortably in the same slip between two of Manhattan's piers.
The city wants to redesign the Manhattan cruise terminal to handle only three ships at a time, at Piers 88 and 90, but with more berth space for each ship. Pier 92 and its building, they say, will continue to be used through 2008, but over the next year the Economic Development Corporation will evaluate other uses for it.
Meanwhile, the agency hopes to redesign the terminal buildings on the two remaining piers to tackle the passenger jams that often occur when ships are late. When the terminal was designed, cruise ships typically carried fewer than 1,000 passengers, unlike the 3,000 to 4,000 that may be aboard now.
Each of the cruise terminal buildings has an unfinished ground floor that measures about 130,000 square feet; these areas are mostly used to house the trucks that provide support services for the ships. To get on and off ships, passengers use the buildings' second floors, where the waiting areas are crowded, outdated and unattractive.
The city plans to redevelop both buildings and roughly double the waiting areas. Passengers will be able to use both floors and will have easier access to bus, taxi and limousine areas.
To accommodate the trucks that service the ships, the agency plans to extend the four-and-a-half-foot-wide aprons that run along the terminal building on both sides of the piers, so that they are 50 feet wide and 1,100 feet long, allowing trucks to go out on the pier.
Some changes have already been made at the terminal. For example, overhead heating systems were recently added to two outdoor waiting areas at Piers 88 and 90 to accommodate the growing number of cruise passengers who use the terminal in winter. In late 2003, Norwegian Cruise Line became the first company to operate a cruise ship from the terminal year-round, and it plans to add a second ship in November.
Eventually, the Economic Development Corporation hopes to put roofs over the 1,000 parking spaces atop the terminal buildings. Plans also call for adding more glass siding and public viewing areas to the outside of each terminal building and replacing aged escalators. Because the terminal's escalators are now only about two and a half feet wide, cruise passengers are not allowed to get on them with their luggage.
In Brooklyn, the new cruise terminal will be built in the vacant area that surrounds Pier 12 in Red Hook. Plans call for a terminal building that will be able to accommodate 4,000 passengers, parking space for about 500 cars and a pier that will be able to accommodate very large ships, like the Queen Mary 2, that are more than 1,100 feet long.
Brooklyn's terminal is also planned to be one of the first transportation terminals in the country to have space - 20,000 square feet - where arriving passengers, once they collect their luggage, can go through customs and immigration at the same time, rather than separately.
It is still uncertain which cruise lines will operate from the Brooklyn terminal, Ms. Ascher said, but she said she expected the terminal to start receiving some ships this fall.
February 17, 2006
Despite Fears, a Dubai Company Will Help Run Ports in New York
By PATRICK McGEEHAN
The Bush administration dismissed the security concerns of local officials yesterday and restated its approval of a deal that will give a company based in Dubai a major role in operating ports in and around New York City.
Representatives of the White House and the Treasury Department said they had given their approval for Dubai Ports World to do business in the United States after a rigorous review. The decision, they said, was final.
Dubai Ports World is buying the British company that currently operates the cruise-ship terminal on the West Side of Manhattan, one of the biggest cargo terminals in New York Harbor, and terminals in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other big ports.
Several lawmakers, including Representative Peter T. King of Long Island, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, have criticized the administration for its approval of the deal, saying it was done too quickly and without enough scrutiny of the ramifications for security at American ports.
"In the post-9/11 world, there should have been a presumption against this company," said Mr. King, a Republican. He added that people in the intelligence community had told him they had concerns about how the company operated the port of Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates.
"I'm going to be pushing as hard as I can to slow this down." Mr. King said.
Mr. Schumer said that he was concerned that the company could be infiltrated by terrorists with designs on exploiting the vulnerability of American ports. He noted that the Sept. 11 attacks were financed in part by money that passed through banks in the United Arab Emirates.
"This is not going to go through quietly and secretly the way some people might like," Mr. Schumer said, adding that he feared that diplomacy might have trumped national security in this case.
In an interview in London, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, a financial adviser to the royal family of Dubai, said yesterday, "We are working closely with the Americans."
In mid-January, President Bush nominated a senior executive of Dubai Ports World, David Sanborn, to run the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration. Mr. Sanborn had been running the company's operations in Europe and Latin America.
Mr. Schumer and six other members of Congress sent a letter yesterday to John W. Snow, the treasury secretary, calling for a more thorough review of the deal, in which Dubai Ports World agreed to pay $6.8 billion to acquire a British shipping company, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company. A subsidiary of the company, P & O Ports North America, operates the local facilities.
Anthony R. Coscia, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, also wrote to Mr. Snow, seeking information about the security review that was conducted. Mr. Coscia said in an interview that he sent the letter after a few attempts to get answers drew no response.
"Clearly, we would expect that information relative to a facility that we operate would be shared with us," Mr. Coscia said. "It is not our role to review and approve this transfer," he said, but added that "given the fact that this is our port and these are employees for whom we feel responsibility, there are issues we would like to become comfortable with."
P & O Ports operates the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal and owns a 50 percent interest in the Port Newark Container Terminal, which is the third-largest cargo terminal on the Port Authority's property. The other half-interest is owned by a subsidiary of Maersk Line, which is based in Denmark.
The Dubai purchase was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, of which Mr. Snow is chairman and which does not usually disclose information about its deliberations, said Brookly McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department. Ms. McLaughlin declined to say when the committee began or ended its review of the deal or what national-security implications it considered.
"We as a general rule do not comment at all on any specific transactions," Ms. McLaughlin said. She added that the review could not be reopened unless the company provided false information or omitted important facts.
Stewart Baker, assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, said his department had no information about Dubai Ports World that justified an objection to the deal. Indeed, he said, the company has cooperated with the department in its efforts to secure American ports and ships in foreign ports.
"We did not find derogatory information in our review," he said.
But that review, Mr. Baker said, did not involve gathering information from outside sources, like the Port Authority, because the committee must keep a proposed transaction secret. He said the committee's investigation began in November and ended in mid-January.
The investigation did not include background checks on the senior managers of the company or an evaluation of how the company screens its own employees, Mr. King said. "Certainly, you would think they would talk to the Port Authority," he added.
Mr. Schumer said he believed that pressure for a second review was beginning to mount in Congress, among Democrats and Republicans. Mr. King said he would consider holding a Homeland Security Committee hearing on the matter if the administration refused to reconsider.
"This can't be treated in a pre-9/11 way," Mr. King said. "There was a tone-deafness here that indicates they didn't show the level of concern that it warranted."
Not to worry; after the horses have bolted, we'll shut this barn door too.
March 12, 2006
By JOHN MAXTONE-GRAHAM
ON its maiden arrival in New York in June 1911, White Star's giant liner Olympic berthed at the Chelsea piers, at 700 feet the longest in Manhattan. But the vessel's stern still jutted 180 feet out into the Hudson River. Clearly, Europe's naval architects had surpassed New York's harbor engineers.
Not until 1935 would the city catch up. The Normandie, the first of the 1,000-foot vessels, was due that June. To accommodate the French liner, New York's Department of Docks decided to create a series of 1,100-foot piers in Midtown by lengthening three existing 800-footers — Nos. 88, 90 and 92 — which stretched from West 48th Street to West 52nd Street.
The plan promptly ran aground when the federal government ruled that no Manhattan pier could be extended farther into the water, so as not to obstruct the shipping channel. But the Department of Docks was not deterred; it devised an ingenious if labor-intensive response. Rather than extend the three chosen piers into the river, the agency decided to extend them inland, the equivalent of lengthening trousers by raising the crotch rather than letting down the hems.
That decision would help usher in the age of Manhattan's super piers, as the news media quickly called the big new berths, an era that helped define the city at midcentury. But the super piers will lose much of their remaining luster next month as several star players abandon Manhattan, among them the Queen Mary 2, which will sweep into Red Hook on April 15.
The mammoth stretching project required to accommodate the Normandie and its equally enormous rivals began in 1933. Hundreds of thousands of tons of stubborn Manhattan schist were blasted, clawed and excavated from the head of each intervening slip. After more than a year's toil, three 300-foot indentations had been gouged out of the West Side.
The construction project did not include refurbishment. New York's piers had always fallen woefully short of their more civilized European counterparts, which included bars, restaurants, waiting rooms, even post offices. By contrast, Manhattan terminals were dreary, cavernous warehouses, broiling in summer, frigid in winter, and utterly devoid of decoration. Passengers embarking onto the world's most luxurious conveyances did so through indifferent, almost squalid anterooms. But now, at least, the piers would be long enough.
The newly stretched Pier 88, the southernmost of the three, was completed just in time. On the morning of June 3, 1935, as the Normandie steamed triumphantly upriver, bunting was being draped atop wet paint.
Enormous crowds packed 12th Avenue to watch as the ship, assisted by a dozen tugs, struggled to make its way into its new digs. Only after two abortive attempts did the liner manage to execute the tricky 90-degree turn east required to ease its huge bow into the slip. Even as the Normandie was tying up on the north side of Pier 88, across the way, work was continuing on Pier 90, where Cunard White Star's 1,000-foot Queen Mary was scheduled to arrive a year later.
For more than seven decades, Manhattan's super piers served generations of ships and their passengers. During World War II, they played host to troop ships, a flotilla of gray-painted, ghostlike vessels that included the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, the Aquitania, the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Ile de France, which had all been dragooned for the urgent business of war. Packed with troops, they slipped their moorings on secret nocturnal sailings that were furtive rather than festive, bound for high-risk passage across a hostile North Atlantic. After V-E Day, the same vessels completed happier crossings, spilling millions of khaki-clad soldiers and sailors onto the super piers along with many of their wounded comrades and thousands of wartime brides and their children.
The three piers, christened "luxury liner row," resumed their role as Manhattan's only working passenger docks, accommodating fleets of restored and repainted ocean liners that were cashing in on America's postwar wanderlust and leading countless East Siders to admit, without a trace of self-consciousness, "We only travel to the West Side to sail to Europe."
But a threat was looming, courtesy of aircraft that could cross the ocean in hours rather than days. In 1956, more Americans booked airline seats than they did shipboard cabins; for ocean liners, that statistic represented the beginning of the end as one by one, liners were either laid up or retooled as cruise ships.
There is great irony in the fact that just a year before both Queens departed from New York for good in the late 1960's, the super piers were renovated, air-conditioned, topped with parking lots and christened the North River Passenger Ship Terminal. By then, nearly all the vessels they were intended to accommodate had disappeared.
BUT the role of the super pier continued. Superannuated ocean liners were supplanted by cruise ships offering warm-weather voyages to Bermuda and the Caribbean, although many of these ships forsook New York for bases in Florida or Puerto Rico, so as to more quickly provide the turquoise waters that America's new sun-worshiping passengers craved.
Today, it is not the length of the new ships but their huge passenger loads that overwhelm the super piers, especially since cruise ships turn around in one day, arriving at dawn and departing by dusk.
When several of these monsters tie up at the same time, the result can be chaos, especially since economy dictates that cruise ships turn around in one day, arriving at dawn and departing by dusk; like aircraft they make money only under way. More than 12,000 passengers debark into fleets of waiting buses, and, by lunchtime, equivalent thousands descend from buses to take their place. Because ship storerooms must be replenished on the same day, dozens of 18-wheelers jostle for entry into the lower levels of the pier sheds.
The congestion is so acute that Micky Arison, Carnival's chief executive and the owner of Cunard, began searching New York Harbor for an alternative berth for his Miami and Fort Lauderdale fleets. He settled on an abandoned coffee pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Renovation and construction is under way, and when the Queen Mary 2 arrives from the Pacific on April 15, it will turn east toward Red Hook rather than continue upriver to its customary super pier berth.
Other owners have directed their vessels to the harbor's opposite shore. Royal Caribbean ships, including Celebrity Cruises, tie up in Bayonne, a New Jersey slip that is barren but blessed with infinite parking space.
At the same time that these relocations may be helping write the epitaph for Manhattan's super piers, they are also laying waste to hallowed tradition.
For more than a century, sailing near the Statue of Liberty was a rite of passage for vessels sailing into and out of the city. But as they approach New York Harbor, vessels headed for Red Hook will veer to starboard, and those destined for Bayonne will turn to port. Both detours will mean that as they sweep into a storied harbor, passengers will get only a distant glimpse of the Lady with the Lamp.
John Maxtone-Graham is a maritime historian whose latest book, "Normandie," will be published next year by Norton.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
I thought taking away of Manhattan just applied to the construction of Chelsea Piers when land fill was taken away. Is the article correct in that that nearly 300 feet of Manhattan bedrock was moved for the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal?Originally Posted by [B
Take a look for yourself (and notice QM2 at Pier 92 with her stern extending beyond the pier into the channel):Originally Posted by americasroof
Last edited by ManhattanKnight; June 3rd, 2006 at 02:41 PM.
Yes, it's true.
You can clearly see it on a Google Earth image. The bulkhead line at W52 St is offset by 300 ft.
Interestingly, perhaps, this illustration and the caption beneath it appear in the 1915 edition of King's Views of New York (just 5 years after completion of the Chelsea Piers and 20 years before the Passenger Ship Terminal):
NEW STEAMSHIP PIERS, largest in the world, under construction on the Hudson River from 44th to 48th st., for berthing of huge modern express steamships; piers each 1,050 ft. long, 150 ft. wide, with berths 360 ft. wide and 44 ft. deep, cut into the solid rock. This work has necessitated construction of largest coffer dam in the world, 800 ft. long, costing $487,500 to hold back a head of water 68 ft. high, 55,000,000 gallons of water being pumped out to permit dry blasting.
Pataki may have had a hand in this project; I don't think it was ever actually built. Note what's described as being "esplanade over railroad and covered street for trucks." Father of Westway?
Last edited by ManhattanKnight; June 3rd, 2006 at 04:05 PM.
In this photo from late 1939, the eastward extensions to Piers 88-92 are clearly visible:
Top to bottom: Conte di Savoia, Aquitania and Queen Mary (both already in their wartime livery), Normandie (in the berth in which she burned and capsized) and Ile-de-France.
Last edited by ManhattanKnight; June 3rd, 2006 at 06:02 PM.