Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/447

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

FEBRUARY, 1886.


 

THE IMPROVEMENT OF EAST RIVER AND HELL GATE.
By General JOHN NEWTON,

CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, UNITED STATES ARMY.

THE East River is a most important factor in the commercial prosperity of the cities of New York and Brooklyn. Its shores form a large portion of the water-front of both cities, and afford space for many miles of docks. Its channel is scoured by strong tides, which keep it permanently free from shoals of sand and mud. It connects the waters of New York Bay with those of Long Island Sound, and is the most important avenue of coastwise trade in the United States. Since the partial removal of the obstructions in Hell Gate, a very heavy foreign trade has taken this route, notably the petroleum traffic, and, with the completion of the designed improvements, the East River will afford a convenient access for transatlantic steamers. The value of this entrance to New York Harbor will be still further enhanced by the opening of the Harlem River to the Hudson, the preparations for which are now in progress.

The unobstructed navigation of the East River would also have an important bearing on the question of national defense in case of war with a foreign state. It would render the blockading of the port of New York a task of doubled difficulty, and would open the shores of Long Island to our larger war-vessels and to ironclads.

For these reasons the problem of removing the obstructions to the free and safe passage of vessels through the East River has engaged an increasing degree of attention for a considerable time. These obstructions were all accumulated within a short distance of one another, in the narrow strait called Hell Gate, and were occasioned by numer-