5. Atlantic Basin

If the Erie made New York City the nation’s busiest port, it also strained the city’s ability to handle the enormous influx of ships. With berths along the East and Hudson Rivers in Manhattan already crowded, businessman Daniel Richards proposed a modern enclosed harbor in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Dredging what had been marshland, engineers constructed a basin unaffected by tides.

The harbor was soon crowded with ships and served by the many warehouses constructed around its edges. It opened in 1841 as traffic down the canal was surging.