News from 1910: Opening of New York's Chelsea Piers


Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 20 February 1910

American and Atlantic Lines Gave Up Their Old Quarters When Their Ships
Sailed Yesterday
Cunard and White Star Liners Already Using Their Piers at the Great
Transatlantic Terminal

The flag was hauled down on the American and Atlantic Transport Line piers
yesterday when the St. Louis sailed for Southampton and the Minnehaha for
London, and with that act the occupancy of the piers practically came to an
end. To-morrow the White Star liner Oceanic, now berthed at Pier 48 on the
North River, will move up to Pier 61, in the new Chelsea section. A ribbon
of British and American colors will be stretched from pier to pier, and the
breaking of this by the bow of the Oceanic will be an epoch in water-front
history. It will signalize the completion of what is perhaps the most
extensive and complete steamship terminal in this country.

Aside from lowering the flag there was no attempt at ceremony on the
American Line pier yesterday morning. The next American liner will berth at
the foot of West Twenty-second Street, in the new Chelsea improvement. It
is now some sixteen years since the steamships of the line came to the old
pier. It was then a new one, and considered one of the best on the water

As Pier Supt. E. S. Wright, Supt. de Mayo, and other old officials passed
through the gate for the last time they expressed regret in having to leave
a place around which hung so many recollections. The longshoremen who live
in the neighborhood and have worked for the line for years also expressed
regret. They will have to move north to be nearer their work. Merchants in
the vicinity are mourning for business which they must lose by the uptown
movement of the great transatlantic steamship companies.

The Cunard Line has been using Pier 54 in the new section, and the giant
steamships Mauretania and Lusitania landed their passengers there long
before the pier shed was completed. The new terminal will be the home of
the International Mercantile Marine steamships---the White Star, Red Star,
Atlantic Transport, and American Lines. The French Line will soon follow
from its old pier at the foot of Morton Street. This will mean that instead
of scattered piers there will be now one great central terminal where the
transatlantic liners coming to Manhattan will arrive and depart.

The new piers were completed in 1906, and then began the construction of the
iron, steel, and concrete two-story sheds. In the construction of these
massive pier coverings 31,000 tons of steel were used. The main columns are
continued through the roof, so as to form cargo hoists. A continuous line
of doors runs along both sides at each floor. The nine piers vary in length
frm [sic] 350 feet to 825 feet. They are 125 feet in width. In order to
get this length of pier it was necessary to extend the pier head line 200
feet outshore. This the United Government refused to allow, and so the city
had to buy property inshore and lengthen the piers by moving the bulkheads
inland. The river along the section inshore was dredged to a depth of 40
feet mean low water. A strong bulkhead wall was built for 3,600 feet ---
nearly the whole distance of the new improvement.


Harland Duzen

The Cunard Line has been using Pier 54 in the new section, and the giant
steamships Mauretania and Lusitania landed their passengers there long
before the pier shed was completed.

Does this mean that by April 1912, Cunard still only had Pier 54 to berth their ships at or did they later hire / gain more piers to dock at?

Mark Baber

Staff member
Martin, from the opening of the Chelsea Piers Cunard used Piers 54 and 56. These remained Cunard's piers until 1934, when they became the Cunard White Star piers.