3. Black Ball Line

black ball liners-south street seaport museum-nyc-Vera Penavic-untapped citiesPainting of one of the Black Ball Liners from new South Street Seaport Museum Exhibit

The Black Ball Line is the first of the Ocean Liners to make scheduled transatlantic trips.  It was 1818, a start-up of sorts created by Isaac and William Wright of Long Island and Francis Thompson, Jeremiah Thompson and Benjamin Marshall from England who wanted to create a new kind of ship business, one that operated on a known and trackable timetable.

Ships at the time sailed only when their cargos were full, as either tramp traders or regular traders that went to any made the most sense. The new ocean liners would be different in that there would be scheduled departures to specific ports so merchants would know exactly when and where their goods got shipped from and when they would arrive.

As a growing port in the world of trading at the time, New York was the site of this first scheduled ocean liner. Under the leadership of Captain Charles H. Marshall in 1836, the fleet became New York’s top transporter of passengers and high-value cargo.