National Geographic : 1986 Jul
NewYork Harbor The Golden Door By ERLA ZWINGLE Photographs by BRUCE DAV I D S ON MAGNUM his is the gateway of gateways. Walt Whitman called New York Harbor "the great place of the western continent, the heart, the brain, the focus, the main spring, the pinnacle, the extremity, the no more beyond, of the New World." It has everything: Protection from storms, enough depth and space to ac commodate ships of every size, good holding ground for anchorage, relative freedom from ice and fog, the front door of the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, and the back way through Long Island Sound, giving easy ac cess to the southern coast of New England. Above all, the harbor has size: The harbors of Hamburg, Liverpool, London, Amsterdam, and Antwerp could all fit into it. Its earliest explorers would still recognize the harbor's splendid outlines, though centuries of development have obscured its natural network of bays, creeks, inlets, rivers, and kills, or channels. It still surges through Hell Gate, where the East River swells against the waters from the sound, and boils where the Hudson and Harlem Rivers meet at Spuyten Duyvil (map, page 19). This mixture ofsea and river, the harbor's lifeblood, has been poisoned where indus try has gripped too tightly for too long at Newtown Creek, and in the gangre nous Gowanus Canal. Somehow the harbor's energy overcomes everything. To enter the harbor isto enter America. In fact and symbol, it is the Golden Door to new life, the outward and visible sign of the covenant America has made with the world, a monument guarded by a monument (left).