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Geography of New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary

Geography of New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary

The New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary, also known as the Hudson-Raritan Estuary, is in the Mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey and New York on the East Coast of the United States. The system of waterways of the Port of New York and New Jersey forms one of the most intricate natural harbors in the world.[1][2] The harbor opens onto the New York Bight in the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast and Long Island Sound to the northeast.

Although the overall form of the estuary 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 (5.2 m) depth to 45 feet (14 m), in some places requiring blasting of bedrock.[3]

There is an extremely complex system of tides and currents. Both the Bight and the Sound 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. Rivers add a fresher, non-tidal inflow although the tide and brackishness extend well up rivers [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 [30] ) utilizes information from sensors, weather forecasts, and environment models to provide real-time forecasts of meteorological and oceanographic conditions in the area.

Since the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 beaches along the shores of the East Coast have been regularly replenished with sand pumped in from off-shore.[5][6] The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) coordinates the projects.[7][8] In 2016 the USACE and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey produced a comprehensive restoration plan for the harbour region, which included proposals to mitigate the effects of sea-level rise through projects to restore natural areas.[9]

Features of the harbor estuary

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

Official references are the NOAA Coastal pilot,[11] NOAA nautical charts,[12] and USGS topographic maps.[13] Many jurisdictional issues appear in U.S. law.[14]

Rivers and streams


New Jersey

  • Berrys Creek

  • Dwars Kill

  • Elizabeth River

  • Hackensack River

  • Overpeck Creek

  • Passaic River First River (a.k.a. Mill Brook) Second River Third River

  • Rahway River

  • Raritan River

  • Shrewsbury River

  • Morses Creek

  • Piles Creek

New York

  • Alley Creek

  • Bronx River

  • Coney Island Creek

  • Flushing River

  • Fresh Kills

  • Gerritsen Creek

  • Gowanus Canal (formerly Gowanus Creek)

  • Hawtree Creek

  • Hook Creek

  • Hutchinson River

  • Luyster Creek

  • Main Creek

  • Newtown Creek Dutch Kills English Kills Maspeth Creek Whale Creek

  • Richmond Creek

  • Sherman Creek

  • Smith Creek

  • Springville Creek

  • Tibbetts Brook

Tidal straits


  • Arthur Kill

  • Kill Van Kull

  • Long Island Sound

New York

  • Bronx Kill

  • Buttermilk Channel

  • East River

  • Grass Hassock Channel

  • Harlem River

  • Hell Gate

  • The Narrows

  • Pumpkin Patch Channel

  • Rockaway Inlet

  • Spuyten Duyvil

Bays, inlets and coves

New York Bay

  • Lower New York Bay Gravesend Bay Great Hills Harbor Jamaica Bay Bergen Basin Fresh Creek Basin Grassy Bay Head of Bay Thurston Basin Mill Basin Norton Basin Paerdegat Basin Leonardo Harbor Prince's Bay Raritan Bay Rockaway Inlet Dead Horse Bay Sheepshead Bay

  • Upper New York Bay Atlantic Basin Communipaw Erie Basin Gowanus Bay Harsimus Cove John's Cove Long Canal Morris Canal Basin Newark Bay Weehawken Cove

East River

  • Bowery Bay

  • Bushwick Inlet

  • Flushing Bay Little Bay

  • Hallets Cove

  • Newtown Creek

  • Powell's Cove

  • Wallabout Bay (Navy Yard Basin)

  • Westchester Creek

Long Island Sound

  • City Island Harbor

  • Eastchester Bay

  • Little Neck Bay

  • Pelham Bay



  • Ellis Island—All of the landfill portion of Ellis Island beyond its 1834 waterfront is in Jersey City, New Jersey, as is all water surrounding Liberty and Ellis Islands. The original island is an exclave in New York State.[15]

  • Liberty Island, exclave of New York within surrounding waters of Jersey City

  • Shooters Island at head of Kill Van Kull in Newark Bay, part in New Jersey and part in New York

New Jersey

  • Plum Island, Sandy Hook Bay

  • Robbins Reef

New York

Land features

New Jersey

  • Bergen Neck

  • Bergen Point

  • Constable Hook

  • Droyer's Point

  • Kearny Point

  • New Barbadoes Neck

  • Paulus Hook

  • Sandy Hook

New York

  • Coney Island (formerly an island)

  • Fort Washington Point

  • Red Hook

  • Rockaway Point

  • Rodman's Neck

  • Throgs Neck

  • Ward's Point

  • Willets Point

Banks and shoals

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 Port Authority 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, are not listed)

  • Auto Marine Terminal [31] , Bayonne and Jersey City — Port Authority

  • Global Marine Terminal [32] , Jersey City — privately operated

  • Port Jersey

  • Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal, Newark and Elizabeth — Port Authority

New York

  • Brooklyn Red Hook Container Terminal — Port Authority South Brooklyn Marine Terminal — City of New York

  • Staten Island Howland Hook Marine Terminal — Port Authority

Lights and lighthouses

For lists see[20] and.[21] Active unless noted.

New Jersey

  • Conover Beacon (Chapel Hill Front Range)

  • Great Beds Light

  • Old Orchard Shoal Light

  • Robbins Reef Light

  • Romer Shoal Light

  • Sandy Hook Light

  • West Bank Light (Range Front)

New York

  • Ambrose Light

  • Lightship Ambrose (to Scotland Station, NJ, 1933; decommissioned 1968)

  • Blackwell Island Lighthouse (decommissioned 1934)

  • Coney Island Light (Nortons Point)

  • Execution Rocks Light

  • Fort Wadsworth Light (decommissioned 1965)

  • Jeffreys Hook Light

  • Kings Point Light

  • New Dorp Light (Swash Channel Range Rear, decommissioned 1964)

  • Prince's Bay Light (decommissioned 1922)

  • Staten Island Range Light

  • Statue of Liberty (discontinued 1902)

  • Stepping Stones Light

  • Throgs Neck Light

  • Whitestone Point Light

Waterfront jurisdictions

Government and other agencies

State, county, municipal

  • Monmouth County Waterwitch Highlands Atlantic Highlands Leonardo Belford Port Monmouth Keansburg Port Comfort Union Beach Keyport

  • Middlesex County Laurence Harbor Morgan South Amboy Perth Amboy Sewaren Port Reading Chrome Carteret

  • Union County Tremley Point Grasselli Linden Elizabeth Elizabethport

  • Essex County Newark

  • Hudson County Bayonne Port Johnson Liberty State Park Jersey City Hoboken Weehawken West New York North Bergen Edgewater

New York

  • New York City Manhattan, New York County[15][22] Brooklyn, Kings County Floyd Bennett Field Manhattan Beach Brighton Beach Coney Island Gravesend Bensonhurst Fort Hamilton Bath Beach Bay Ridge Red Hook South Brooklyn Brooklyn Heights Queens, Queens County Lower Bay Far Rockaway Rockaway Point Breezy Point East River Flushing Willets Point La Guardia Airport The Bronx, Bronx County City Island Staten Island, Richmond County Port Richmond Elm Park Mariners Harbor West New Brighton Sailors Snug Harbor New Brighton Tottenville Charleston Port Socony Travis Chelsea St. George Tompkinsville

See also

  • New York Harbor Storm-Surge Barrier

  • Marine life of New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary

  • Newark Basin

  • New York Harbor


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Citation Linknctc.fws.gov"Urban Core". Retrieved 28 March 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.harborestuary.orghttp://www.harborestuary.org/watersweshare/pdfs/CRP/2_Existing_Conditions.pdf
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Citation Linktidesandcurrents.noaa.govNOAA Tides and Current web site FAQ page. See discussion of hydraulic currents [1]
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Citation Linkedgeeffects.netMuka, Samantha (August 11, 2015). "Building Beaches: Beach Nourishment in the United States". Retrieved 10 April 2017. New York State has the longest history of nourishment in the country. The first beach nourishment project was the construction and expansion of the shoreline off of Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
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Citation Linkwww.newyorker.comSeabrook, John (July 22, 2013). The Beach Builders. The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.nan.usace.army.mil"NY District Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Projects and Studies Map". USACE. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.nytimes.comAnderson, Jenny (May 18, 2013). "Rebuilding the Coastline, but at What Cost?". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.nan.usace.army.milHudson=Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan (PDF) (Report). USACE. June 1, 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.gpo.gov"62 FR 46142 - Simultaneous De-designation and Termination of the Mud Dump Site and Designation of the Historic Area Remediation Site". Retrieved 28 March 2017.
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Citation Linknauticalcharts.noaa.govChapter 11, New York Harbor and Approaches, Coast Pilot 2, 35th Edition, 2006, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgNOAA 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 Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine, 12339 Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine, 12366 Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine Long Island Sound and East River, found on page Nautical charts Atlantic Coast charts online Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgUSGS 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.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgTitle 33. Navigation and Navigable Waters Archived 2006-09-26 at the Wayback Machine USC. See Section 59.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgAll 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.
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Citation Linkwww.gpo.gov"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.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgReports of Channel Conditions Archived 2008-10-29 at the Wayback Machine, 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."
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Citation Linkwww.dec.state.ny.usHearing Notice for Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation 21/1/2004.
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