New York Harbor, Upper Bay, 1999, with Governors Island near the center, Manhattan to the left, Brooklyn at top, and Jersey City at the bottom; Ellis Island is at the left, Liberty Island at right, just off New Jersey. [photo by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]
The Island Near the Island at the Center of the World
New York Harbor has been inspiring extravagant praise for centuries, ever since the three-masted Half Moon, sponsored by the Dutch East India Company and captained by Henry Hudson, sailed into the waters surrounding what would become first Nieuw Amsterdam, later New York City. “The greatest natural harbor on the coast of a vast new wilderness” is how Russell Shorto describes it in The Island at the Center of the World.  With its islands and wetlands and rivers, its maritime and industrial infrastructures, its fortifications and bridges and monuments to immigration, liberty and enterprise, New York Harbor has long occupied a central place in the history and mythology of one of the continent’s greatest cities.