“New York Bay” is a collective term for the waters leading from the Atlantic Ocean to the port of New York. It consists of the Lower Bay and Upper Bay, connected by the Narrows—a tidal strait separating Staten Island from Long Island. “New York Harbor” refers both to Upper New York Bay and to the waterfronts at the southern end of Manhattan Island and in nearby cities in New Jersey, such as those on the Hudson River.
1. Look carefully at the map to find the trading routes available for ships using the harbor, marked by arrows. How many are there? Use a classroom map to identify the areas that each route leads to. How do you think these contacts would have affected the development of the port of New York?
2. Identify Sandy Hook, NJ, and Coney Island, NY. A series of shifting sand bars—in some areas only 24 feet below the water surface at low tide—is located under the water between these two points of land. What problems would this create for vessels?
3. Identify the Navesink (Twin) Lights and the Robbins Reef Light on the map. Which one is on land? Which one is in the water?
4. Locate the Sandy Hook Light. Why do you think this was the first lighthouse to be built in New York Bay?
5. Find the Main/Gedney Channel. This channel was the primary approach to the Lower Bay from the Atlantic Ocean in the 19th Century. Now locate the Ambrose Channel. This route was created in 1903 by dredging, or digging out, the bottom of the harbor to a depth of nearly 40 feet. Why do you think this became the preferred way to get to New York Harbor?
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