10. Container materials pass through The Narrows and the Kill Van Kull to Arrive in Port Newark

Aerial view of Port Newark

On their way from locations across the globe, container goods most often pass through The Narrows and Kill Van Kull to enter Newark Bay, though some ships will go through Arthur Kill. The Narrows began forming over 18,000 years ago before the end of the last Ice Age, following the deposition of Harbor Hill Moraine. Before The Narrows, Staten Island and Brooklyn were connected — the Hudson River instead drained through the Raritan River, which went through the eastern side of Watchung Mountains to Bound Brook in New Jersey before entering the Atlantic Ocean in Raritan Bay. However, a build-up of water in the Upper New York Bay allowed the river to break through, forming The Narrows. Later, The Narrows would become essential to the American Revolution and was used in 1776 by William Howe’s British forces to push George Washington’s army back at the Battle of Long Island. Today, The Narrows not only serves Port Newark but can be crossed on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the U.S.

As a three-mile tidal strait between Staten Island, New York, and Bayonne, Kill Van Kull connects Newark Bay with the Upper New York Bay. It’s name reflects the early Dutch colonization of the region. The name Kill Van Kull is the anglicized form of “achter kill” meaning “back channel,” — a reference to its location behind Staten Island. Like The Narrows, Kill Van Kull’s importance spans back to the colonial era. At the time, it played a key role in travel from New York to the South, providing access for ferries which carried passengers to coaches stationed at Elizabethtown.

Next, check out the Top 1o Secrets of NYC’s South Street Seaport!