The Hoboken Piers

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North German Lloyd Piers, Hoboken, N. J.

"The German liner piers, shared by what were then two of the world's biggest and busiest shippers, the Hamburg-American Line and the North German Lloyd, were built just after the turn of the century. Slender "finger" piers, which extended more than 900 feet out into the Hudson, they were built on the site of the ruins of the previous docks, which were destroyed in the devastating Hoboken Pier Fire of 1900........... After a string of ruinous fires over the years (including 1944), the last of these docks served the American Export Lines until 1970, then collapsed in 1993 and was finally demolished in 1997."

Hoboken History, the Magazine of the Hoboken Historical Museum, issue no. 23, 1999

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck - the Sphere July 7, 1900

North German Lloyd docks before the 1900 fire?????

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

North German Lloyd docks.

Post marked 1909

North German Lloyd Docks, Hoboken, N.J.

Post marked 1911

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

North German Lloyd Piers, Hoboken, N.J.,

Post marked 1906

View from the river.

The story was told in the Land family that Law Land and his son, Percy, had moved from Detroit, Michigan to Hoboken to rebuild the piers after they had burned. The problem with this story is that the Lands were living in Hoboken by the 1890s and had already moved to Smithtown Long Island by the time the piers burned in 1900. It is almost certain that Law Land returned from Long Island to work on the rebuilding of the piers. It is known that he was in Hoboken in 1901 and 1902. The story also goes that Percy Land met his future wife, Meta Petermann, in Hoboken. By the time the Lands moved to Smithtown in 1900 Percy was only 15 years old. Percy and Meta married in 1908. The rebuilding of the piers was completed just a few years after they burned, probably too soon for Percy to have taken much of a part. However, the train terminal burned in 1905 and was rebuilt by 1907. It is highly likely that Percy met Meta when he returned to Hoboken to work on the rebuilding of the train station. He is known to have been in Hoboken in 1906.

When the new train station was built, the use of wood and other combustible materials was kept to an absolute minimum to prevent a reoccurrence of fire. Most of the construction was metal and cement. Law and Percy were carpenters by trade. Despite the major use of steel and concrete in the reconstruction of both the piers and train terminal there must have been a fair amount of work for carpenters.

In the building of the train station wood was used:

  • As a nailing surface for copper ornamentation under the cornices and gutters.
  • For the bridges in the ferry house
  • For the racks that the ferryboats used for docking
  • For trim and floors in offices. Most of the furniture was made of metal.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

North German Lloyd Piers, Hoboken, N. J.

Post card dated October 26, 1903

This postcard shows both the riverside and the land side of the piers (in the insert on the left). However, the area in front of the land entrance could not have been as large as it appears on this depiction.

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

North German Lloyd new Piers, Hoboken, N. J.

Harper's Weekly - No date

Oelrichs and Company

In 1861 the firm of Oelrichs and Co. was appointed agents for the North German Lloyd Steamship Line out of Bremen, Germany. In 1868 they had a warehouse in Hoboken but their main office was in Manhattan at 1 E 57th Street.

Oelrichs and Co. advertisement

The Hamburg American Docks, Hoboken, N.J.,

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2017

Hamburg American Parker & Piers, Hoboken N. J. date uncertain - circa 1885.

On the back of this lovely image of the Hamburg Piers in Hoboken is what appears to be a list of passengers and Officers of the S. S. Rhaetia under Commander Vogelgesang.

The SS Rhaetia was built in 1882. It was sold to the Germans in 1885. In December 1884 Capt. H. (or W.) Vogelgesang was in command. He was still commander in 1888.

Steamship Rhaetia (Ger.) Vogelgesanf, Hamburg 15 days, with merchandise and passengers to Kunhardt & Co. arrived 14 December 1885.
Captain Ludwig was the commander of the Rhaetia in 1892.

For an image of the ship and more info see Norway-Hertiage S/S Rhaetia - Hamburg american Line

I cannot find the ship's manifest for any of the passengers listed.

1901: Hamburg American Line Capt. H. Vogelgesand retired in 1901. An article in the NY Times commented that he was well know and well liked among his tranatlantic passengers. He had sailed for 50 years and was known for his urbanity and heroism. He stared as a cabin boy. He had made at least 162 trips across the Atlantic as a captain. He was born in Berlin and went to sea at age 16. At one time or another he had been in the command of the: Allemania, Cyclops, Holsatia, Gellert, Silesia, Rhaetia, Hammonia, Arabia, Hungaria, Andalusia, Syria and Patricia. His retirement notice was carried in papers across the country.

Quarter-century's Progress of New Jersey's Leading Manufacturing Center, 1887

The Hamburg American Packet Steamship Company's Docks, Hoboken, 1887

- 1887

Hamburg American Packet Co's Piers, Hoboken, N. J. and the S. S. Hammonia

Quarter-century's Progress of New Jersey's Leading Manufacturing Center, 1887

Dock of the Hamburg American Packet Steamship Company, Hoboken

Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck


The Hamburg-American docks." September 1909 unknown publication.

While it says "Hamburg American" docks I believe that these were the North German Lloyd docks

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Hamburg-American Steamship Line, Docks at Hoboken, N. J.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Hamburg-American Steamship Company Hoboken, N. J.

"Erected 1882"

General Office, 37 Broadway, N. Y.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Hamburg-American Piers, Hoboken, N.J. posted 1910

Docking a Liner, Hoboken, N.J.,

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Post marked 1907

This card shows the block long opening along the water between 4th and 5th Streets. The North German Lloyd Piers are on the right and the Netherland-American Pier is on the left. The buildings in between are various boat clubs and a public bath.

In April 2015 Ered Matthew wrote:

"the tiny pinkish building with light green roof (just under the liner's bow) is the shack where Marlon Brando got beaten up in the 1954 film On the Waterfront. Many of the movie's location shots were filmed adjacent to the Holland-America Line Hoboken pier near 5th Street, shown at left in the postcard image."

Steamship Lines Docking at Hoboken, N. J.

Not posted

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2017

Hamberg American and North german Lloyd Piers, Hoboken, N. J.

Not posted

Hoboken Docks, Hoboken, N. J.

Not posted

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Sailing Day, Hamburg American Line Hoboken

Posted September 16, 1906

The Gilbert M Edgett is listed on various web sites as an America steam tug (1890-1941).

Gilbert M Edgett owned at least one tug boat in 1913, the 16 foot Rebecca M Wells built in 1879 in Milton, Del, home port, New York. (Annual list of merchant vessels of the United States By United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Bureau of Statistics, United States., 1913)

The tug Gilbert M Edgett was tied up at the Hamburg-America lines in Hoboken when she sank at her mooring. It was not known why the tug sank. The cause was to be determined when she was raised and pumped. The tug was owned by the Hudson Towing Company. (New York Times June 23, 1901)

The tug boat Gilbert M Edgett, was again mentioned in a New York Times article about an excursion of women and children on July 31, 1902.

Gilbert M Edgett born circa 1862 in Canada was listed on 10th street in Brooklyn in the 1920 census. His occupation was "steamship repairs manager". In 1930 he was listed in Brooklyn as a "marine surveyor". In 1900 he was listed as a "ship smith". In 1918 Gilbert M Edgett was listed the president of Gilbert M Edgett & Co. engineers, machinists boiler makers, etc. (Shipping: a weekly journal of marine trades)

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2017

River View Park, and Steamship Docks, Hoboken, N. J.

Posted 1911

New York from Hoboken, N. J.

Not posted

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Stereo card collection of Maggie Land Blanck


Hoboken was "admirably located for steamship traffic." It had "New York harbor in front... and a great railway connection" in back. Most of the railroads leading into the City of New York ended on the west shore of the Hudson.

"Hoboken has a population of 67,611 (1915). It is the most densely populated city in New Jersey. It is the terminal of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad......

These large vessels are German liners which took refuge in this harbor when the Great European War broke out in 1914. They stayed at their piers to avoid being captured."

This picture was taken from the tower in the train station.

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This page was created in 2004: Latest update, June 2020

©Maggie Land Blanck