Places that Matter

Atlantic and Erie Basins

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Erie Basin. Elis Shin, 2012
Erie Basin. Elis Shin, 2012
Atlantic Basin. Elis Shin, 2012
Ports that were integral to Brooklyn's important shipping industry
Place Details »

Place Matters Profile

The Atlantic and Erie basins, built in 1841 and 1864 respectively, demonstrate the dominance of the Brooklyn harbor in the years before World War II. Today, they remain as remnants of New York's industrial history as well providing wonderful views and fishing spots in the Red Hook community.

Overview

The Atlantic and Erie basins were feats of engineering that increased the capacity of New York Harbor and established the predominance of the Brooklyn waterfront in shipping.

The Atlantic Basin was proposed and planned by businessman Colonel Daniel Richards in 1839, who owned the basin site on Red Hook Island fronting the Buttermilk Channel. (The neighborhood now called Red Hook had been a 50-acre island separated from the mainland by a creek, until the creek and many of its marshes were filled in with land from the highlands that are now Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill.) The Atlantic Basin was built on "shoal water land," an area with extremely shallow water at low tide, which had to be dredged to accommodate ships that drew up to 20 feet. The basin kept the water level constant inside its walls despite tidal fluctuations. Finished in 1841, it became a forty-acre refuge for ships, and the dredged land was used to create solid land over the former marshes. The first warehouse serving the basin opened in 1844.