The Buttermilk Channel and Brooklyn Waterfront

The Buttermilk Channel and Brooklyn Waterfront (HMVPZ)

Location: New York, NY 11231 New York County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 41.242', W 74° 0.892'

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Governors Island

This view looks over the Buttermilk Channel to the Brooklyn waterfront, located only 400 yards away. Many theories surround the naming of this narrow waterway. In years past, the channel was much wider and shallower than it is today - before the piers and the dredging of the channel gave it its current appearance. The waters in this channel were rough and fast, leading to two theories: one, that the appearance of the white water looked like buttermilk; and two, that the fast rough action of the water was actually used to help churn Brooklyn farmers' milk. Another theory was that cattle actually crossed the channel to graze on Governors Island. Walt Whitman wrote, "as late as the Revolutionary War cattle were driven across from Brooklyn, over what is now Buttermilk Channel, to Governors Island."

Across the channel, the Brooklyn waterfront was one of the busiest waterfronts in the nation. The introduction of the steamship in 1815 and the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 meant that the demand for waterfront space was high. Land in Brooklyn was cheaper and more spacious than lower Manhattan and the shipping industry exploded in this area Activity along the waterfront declined in the 1950s when shipping shifted to container systems and less manpower was needed. Though much of the container shipping industry moved to New Jersey, you can still see a functioning shipping industry across the channel.

Along the waterfront to the right, you can see the Atlantic Basin, where a cutting-edge shipyard was built in 1840, with a 200 foot opening and room for 150 ships to be protected on all sides - a unique design at the time. The basin remains today with the terminal for the Queen Mary II and other cruise ships at its southern end. Today, a long swath of the waterfront south of the Brooklyn Bridge will be the site of the new Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 8:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 583242 N 4504519
Decimal Degrees40.68736667, -74.01486667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 41.242', W 74° 0.892'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 41' 14.52" N, 74° 0' 53.52" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)718, 212, 917
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 85 Kimmel Rd, New York NY 11231, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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