Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed the World

Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed the World

Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed the World

Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed the World

Synopsis

Fifty years ago - on April 26, 1956 - the freighter Ideal X steamed from Berth 26 in Port Newark, New Jersey. Flying the flag of the Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company, she set out for Houston with an unusual cargo: 58 trailer trucks lashed to her top deck.But they weren't trucks - they were steel containers removed from their running gear, waiting to be lifted onto empty truck beds when Ideal X reached Texas. She docked safely, and a revolution was launched - not only in shipping, but in the way the world trades. Today, the more than 200 millioncontainers shipped every year are the lifeblood of the new global economy. They sit stacked on thousands of box boats that grow more massive every year. In this fascinating book, transportation expert Brian Cudahy provides a vivid, fast-paced account of the container-ship revolution - from the maiden voyage of the Ideal X to the entrepreneurial vision and technological breakthroughs that make it possible to ship more goods more cheaply than everybefore. Cudahy provides a concise, colorful history of world shipping - from freighter types to the fortunes of steamship lines - and explores the spectacular growth of global trade fueled by the mammoth ships and new seaborne lifelines connecting Asia, Europe, and the Americas.Masterful maritime history, Box Boats shows how fleets of these ungainly ships make the modern world possible - with both positive and negative effects. It's also a tale of an historic home port, New York, where old piers lie silent while 40-foot steel boxes of toys and televisions come ashore bythe thousands, across the bay in New Jersey.

Excerpt

The weather in New York was hardly auspicious on Thursday, April 26, 1956. A cold rain fell on and off throughout the day, and the afternoon temperature never got beyond the mid-forties. While a crowd of 15,866 fans ignored the weather and attended the twenty-second day of the spring meet at Jamaica Race Track in Queens that afternoon, a scheduled night baseball game at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers was cancelled owing to the inclement conditions. New Yorkers in search of entertainment that April evening were better advised to consider something indoors. Undoubtedly, many went to the movies. Among the options, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was playing at several neighborhood theaters, while in midtown Manhattan, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was drawing crowds at the Roxy. Anyone in the metropolitan area who decided to spend a quiet evening at home could have tuned in to Channel Four and watched Groucho Marx star in You Bet Your Life at eight o’clock, followed by an episode of Jack Webb’s Dragnet at eight-thirty.

Two important political stories emerged from Washington that April day a half-century ago. One was an announcement that Vice President Richard Nixon, after earlier hesitation, would remain on the Republican ticket when President Dwight David Eisenhower sought reelection in the fall. The second story involved bipartisan agreement in the House of Representatives over a massive new road-building program that Eisenhower had earlier proposed, an initiative that would be financed from an increase in the federal motor fuel tax and would soon lead to the design and construction of the Interstate Highway System.

Along the New York waterfront, the usual assortment of passenger and cargo ships sailed in and out of port. The French Line’s Liberte backed away from North River Pier 88 . . .

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