cover of book

Port Newark and the Origins of Container Shipping
by Angus Kress Gillespie
foreword by Michael Aaron Rockland
Rutgers University Press, 2023
eISBN: 978-1-9788-1874-3 | Cloth: 978-1-9788-1871-2
Library of Congress Classification TA1215.G55 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 627.3097493

Container shipping is a vital part of the global economy. Goods from all around the world, from vegetables to automobiles, are placed in large metal containers which are transported across the ocean in ships, then loaded onto tractor-trailers and railroad flatbeds. But when and where did this world-changing invention get started?
This fascinating study traces the birth of containerization to Port Newark, New Jersey, in 1956 when trucker Malcom McLean thought of a brilliant new way to transport cargo. It tells the story of how Port Newark grew rapidly as McLean’s idea was backed by both New York banks and the US military, who used containerization to ship supplies to troops in Vietnam. Angus Gillespie takes us behind the scenes of today’s active container shipping operations in Port Newark, talking to the pilots who guide the ships into port, the Coast Guard personnel who help manage the massive shipping traffic, the crews who unload the containers, and even the chaplains who counsel and support the mariners. Port Newark shines a spotlight on the unsung men and women who help this complex global shipping operation run smoothly.

Since McLean's innovation, Port Newark has expanded with the addition of the nearby Elizabeth Marine Terminal. This New Jersey complex now makes up the busiest seaport on the East Coast of the United States.  Some have even called it “America’s Front Door.”  The book tells the story of the rapid growth of worldwide containerization, and how Port Newark has adapted to bigger ships with deeper channels and a raised bridge. In the end, there is speculation of the future of this port with ever-increasing automation, artificial intelligence, and automation.

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