Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/673

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III. Why New York is the Commercial Metropolis of the United States.—The great commercial advantages of the site of the city of New York attracted the attention of the first voyagers who came to these shores. When Hendrick Hudson, passing through the Narrows, found within a commodious, landlocked harbor, and a broad and beautiful river, which floated his ships in safety more than a hundred miles into the interior of the continent, he clearly foresaw, and predicted, that this would be the great entrepot of foreign trade for the New World. The subsequent history of New York has fully demonstrated the advantages of its position, since a population of more than 2,000,000 has gathered immediately around its harbor, and it has become not only the business metropolis of a great nation, but the second in importance of the markets of the world. Those who have witnessed and shared the progress and prosperity of the city have been generally well satisfied to enjoy these, without any special inquiry into the causes which have produced them; and, indeed, it is not unlikely that they have accepted them as simply the fruit of their own intelligence and energy. It is doubtful, however, whether the merchants of New York have been more shrewd and enterprising than those of the other ports on our coast. It is not flattering to the vanity of men to assert that they are what their surroundings make them, but it is nevertheless in a great measure true, and New-Yorkers are probably no exception to the rule. The real secret of the unparalleled growth of New York lies in the peculiar topography of its vicinity.

The city is set on an island, of which the shore on every side is swept by tide-water. On the west it is bounded by the Hudson—river we call it, but really an arm of the sea—in which the ebb and flow of the tide are perceptible as far as Troy, one hundred and fifty miles from its mouth. On the east the island is encircled by tideways called Spuyten Duyvel Creek, Harlem River, and East River, the latter a deep channel which connects New York Harbor with Long Island Sound, and thus affords an important artery of internal commerce, and another outlet to the ocean. These two great natural canals, the Hudson and East Rivers, embracing the long and narrow island between them, unite in New York Harbor, one of the most beautiful and commodious in the world. Seen from the city, it seems to be completely landlocked, but communicates with the ocean through the Narrows, with Newark Bay through the Kill van Kull, and thence by Arthur's Kill with Raritan Bay.

Thus it will be seen that New York Harbor is the centre of a series of navigable tideways which add greatly to its adaptation to the wants of commerce, and constitute the most peculiar physical features in its surroundings. The little map given on the next page will show the connection of this system of water-ways more distinctly than any verbal description can.

To those who have not made topography a study, the interest and mystery of the origin of the navigable channels leading into New York