News from 1911 Isidor Straus' Comments on New York's Piers


Mark Baber

Staff member
In January 1911, a mere five months before Olympic's maiden
voyage, White Star's New York piers were not long enough to accommodate
her; when docked, she would extend sixty-four feet (19.5 m) past the end
of the existing piers. For the fifth time since 1903, an application
was pending before the United States Secretary of War for permission to
extend the piers farther into the Hudson River, and there was much
public debate about alternative docking facilities in places like
Brooklyn, Montauk and Connecticut in the event permission was again
denied. This article is one of several which appeared in The New York
Times in the weeks before the Army's New York Harbor Line Board opened
its hearings on the latest application, which was again denied. White
Star was, however, permitted to construct temporary, easily removable
extensions prior to Olympic's maiden arrival.

The New York Times, 9 January 1911

Isidor Straus Points Out Their Commercial Advantage to New York
Isidor Straus, in an interview yesterday, urged that the Government
permit the lengthening of the existing piers of the Port of New York, in
order to accommodate the new ships that are now being built abroad. He
said that our diplomats and Consular representatives are endeavoring to
cultivate trade, and efforts should be made here to facilitate the
commerce when it reaches our shores. Not only would the commerce of
this port suffer seriously, he said, but it would affect that of the
whole country.

"I am informed," said Mr. Straus, "that we have not dock facilities in
New York City which will enable such new leviathans of the deep as the
Olympic and Titanic to find a home for their loading and discharge. I
cannot for a moment believe that when this fact is brought home to those
who have at heart the expansion of the commerce of the United States,
and New York City's share of it, it can fail to arouse them to make
every effort to supply the necessary accommodations so that these great
vessels can discharge their freight and passengers at our door.

"One of the most energetic fights that is at present engaging the
attention of our commercial bodies is to have removed the railway
discriminations against the Port of New York which are diverting
transatlantic freights from this to other ports, and here we have one of
the most potent factors to counteract such discriminations by providing
facilities for these tremendous ships, which, under present conditions,
would be compelled to find other shores than those of Manhattan.

"When these facts are brought home to the citizens of New York, I cannot
help but think that will leave no stone unturned to convince the
Government of the necessity immediately to permit such improvements as
will enable the Port of New York to provide a home for these ships."