Geography of New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary

The system of waterways of the Port of New York and New Jersey forms one of the most intricate natural harbors in the world.[2] Although the overall form of the harbor remains unchanged from the time of Giovanni da Verrazzano's visit in 1524, no part of it remains unaffected by human activity, and some parts, such as Hell Gate and Ellis Island have been almost completely altered. In the greatest hidden change, the navigational channels have been deepened from the natural 17 feet depth to 45 feet, in some places requiring blasting of bedrock.[3] The harbor lies at the confluence of three major bodies of water. The harbor opens onto the New York Bight (Atlantic Ocean) to the southeast and Long Island Sound to the northeast. Both of these are essentially marine bodies with both tides and saltwater, but the Sound compared to the Atlantic is about 20-30% less saline (as an estuary), and the tide is about 3 hours later with as much as 70% more variation. The Hudson River adds a fresher, non-tidal inflow from the north, although the tide and brackishness extend well up river.

These three combine to generate an extremely complex system of tides and currents [4] throughout the extended hydrologic system from Albany to Montauk Point to the Hudson Canyon region of the New York Bight. The New York Harbor Observing and Prediction System (NYHOPS) utilizes information from sensors, weather forecasts, and environment models to provide real-time forecasts of meteorological and oceanographic conditions in the area.

Features of the harbor

Aerial view of the New York City area. The estuary is shown at bottom left.

The lists below includes features of Port of New York and New Jersey with a waterborne emphasis starting with natural features. Where possible the list proceeds from Lower Bay entrance approximately clockwise around Harbor. The alternative sorting is by jurisdiction.

Official references are the NOAA Coastal pilot,[5] NOAA nautical charts,[6] and USGS topographic maps.[7] Many jurisdictional issues appear in U.S. law.[8]

Rivers and streams


New Jersey

New York

Tidal straits


New York

Bays, inlets and coves

Lower New York Bay

Upper New York Bay

East River

Long Island Sound



New Jersey

New York

Land features

New Jersey

New York

Banks and shoals

Lower Bay

  • East Bank
  • False Hook
  • Flynns Knoll
  • Old Orchard Shoal
  • Romer Shoal
  • West Bank

Upper Bay

  • Bay Ridge Flats
  • Dimond Reef
  • Gowanus Flats
  • Jersey Flats

East River

  • College Point Reef
  • Hog Back
  • Holmes Rock
  • Lawrence Point Ledge
  • Mill Rock
  • Rhinelander Reef
  • South Brother Ledge
  • Ways Reef

Navigational channels

Lower Bay

  • Ambrose Channel
  • Atlantic Highland Anchorage
  • Chapel Hill South Channel
  • Coney Island Channel
  • Gravesend Bay Anchorage
  • Raritan Bay East Reach
  • Rockaway Inlet
  • Sandy Hook Channel
  • Swash Channel
  • Terminal Channel

Raritan Bay

  • Red Bank Reach
  • Great Beds Reach
  • Raritan Bay West Reach
  • Raritan River Cutoff
    • Perth Amboy Anchorage
    • South Amboy Reach
  • Seguine Point Bend
  • Ward Point Bend (East & West)
  • Ward Point Secondary Channel

Jamaica Bay

  • Beach Channel
  • Island Channel
  • Runway Channel

Arthur Kill

  • Fresh Kills Reach
  • Elizabeth Port Reach
  • Gulfport Reach
  • Outerbridge Reach
  • Port Reading Reach
  • Port Socony Reach
  • Pralls Island Reach
  • South of Shooters Island Reach
  • Tremley Point Reach

Newark Bay

  • Elizabeth Channel
  • Newark Bay Middle Reach
  • Newark Bay North Reach
  • Newark Bay South Reach
  • North of Shooters Island Reach
  • Port Newark Branch Channel
  • Port Newark Pierhead Channel
  • South Elizabeth Channel

Kill van Kull

  • Bergen East Point Reach
  • Bergen West Point Reach
  • Constable Hook Reach

Upper Bay[10]

Hudson River

  • Weehawken Edgewater Channel

East River

  • East Channel
  • South Brother Channel
  • West Channel

Port facilities

One of the many duties of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is to develop trade interests in the New York-New Jersey area. The PA operates most of the containerized port facilities listed here, and also collaborates with the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain shipping channels in the harbor.

New Jersey numerous privately operated bulk facilities, especially petroleum, not listed

New York

Lights and lighthouses

For lists see[12] and.[13] Active unless noted.

New Jersey

New York

Waterfront jurisdictions

Government and other agencies

State, county, municipal

New Jersey

New York

See also


  4. NOAA Tides and Current web site FAQ page. See discussion of hydraulic currents
  5. Chapter 11, New York Harbor and Approaches, Coast Pilot 2, 35th Edition, 2006, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA.
  6. NOAA nautical charts 12327 New York Harbor (1:40,000 scale), 12324 Sandy Hook to Little Egg, 12350 Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Inlet, 12402, 12401 New York Lower Bay, 12331 Raritan Bay and southern part of Arthur Kill, 12332 Raritan River, 12333 Kill van Kull and northern part of Arthur Kill, 12334 New York Harbor (Upper Bay and Narrows, 12337, 12335, 12338, 12341, 12339, 12366 Long Island Sound and East River, found on page Nautical charts Atlantic Coast charts online, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA.
  7. USGS topographic maps, 1:24,000 scale, listed from west to east (in a row), then north to south:
    • Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Mamaroneck;
    • Orange, Weehawken, Central Park Flushing, Seacliff;
    • Elizabeth, Jersey City, Brooklyn, Jamaica, Lynbrook;
    • Perth Amboy, Arthur Kill The Narrows, Coney Island, Far Rockaway;
    • South Amboy, Keyport, Sandy Hook West, Sandy Hook East.
  8. Title 33.Navigation And Navigable Waters USC. See Section 59.
  9. 1 2 3 All of the landfill portion of Ellis Island beyond its 1834 waterfront is in Hudson County, NJ. All water surrounding Liberty and Ellis Islands is in Hudson County.
  10. "Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the New York and New Jersey Harbor Navigation Study: Feasibility Phase". Federal Register Volume 63. Government Printing Office. March 24, 1998. Retrieved 2014-08-31.
  11. Reports of Channel Conditions, USACE, Nov. 2004: "Partial Anchorage Channel:Starts approximately 3,990 Ft. seaward of Red Gas #2; Ends approximately 1,660 Ft. landward of Red Light & Bell #21. Authorized project: Width: 2000 ft, Length: 2.34 nmiles, Depth 45 ft.... Shoaling exists and begins approximately 2,230 Ft. seaward of Red Gas #2 and proceeds landward with a length of approximately 600 Ft. and a width of approximately 60 Ft." Also Hearing Notice for Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation 21/1/2004. Simplified map Bayonne Peninsula Chap. 6, CPIP Toolkit, PANYNJ.
  12. of Historic Light Stations New Jersey Lighthouses and Inventory of Historic Light Stations New York Lighthouses NPS lists.
  13. New York Lighthouses and New York Lighthouses Lighthouse Friends 2001-2005.
  14. Boundaries extend to mid-Hudson on the west, into the Upper Harbor south of Governors Island, to the far pierhead line of the East River, Harlem River and Spuyten Duyvil. The exceptions are the additional areas of Marble Hill section included north of the Harlem River (bounded approximately by Johnson Avenue, West 230 Street) and Liberty and Ellis Islands to their original 1834 waterfront. River

External links

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