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Guide to the Atlantic Dock Company collection 1978.151

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201
718-222-4111
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Judith Box, David Moore, and Marilyn H. Pettit

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 10, 2015
Finding Aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical Note

The Atlantic Dock Company was the brain-child of Daniel Richards, who in 1839 began to develop the Brooklyn harbor shoreline by erecting a contained set of docks, warehouses, and a basin for deep water ships in the area presently known as Red Hook and South Brooklyn. The Atlantic Dock Company was chartered by New York State on May 6, 1840 and began excavation and construction, capitalized at one million dollars. Richards became secretary of the company and James De Peyster Ogden became the first president. In present day Brooklyn, Richards Street now runs from north to south and extends from Hamilton Avenue to Beard Street in Red Hook. Robert Ernst's Immigrant Life in New York City, 1825-1863 (1949) describes the immigrant labor force attracted to the docks.

Construction of the first docks commenced on June 3, 1841 and stone warehouses were begun in 1844. Col. Richards erected in 1846 a grain elevator operated by steam, the first of its kind in the New York port. James S. T. Stranahan, unmentioned in the collection, took charge of work on the docks and by 1851 had purchased a controlling interest in the company and became its president. The original finding aid noted that the company was listed in Brooklyn city directories and was in liquidation in 1922, per Polk's Directory of Brooklyn and Queens.

The area is presently the principal container-loading facility in New York City and the location of a new dock for massive ocean-going cruise liners, including the Queen Mary.

See also: M1975.29.1, "View of the Atlantic Docks" by E. Whitefield ("Chromo lithograph on buff wove paper," 22 ½ x 37 ½ inches). This image was on display in the Brooklyn Historical Society's exhibition "Brooklyn Works" in 2006.

References:

Stiles, Henry R. A History of the City of Brooklyn, vol. III. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Published by subscription, 1867-1870.

"Brooklyn, N.Y, U.S. Civil War Relief Associations Collection, including 'Women's Sanitary Fair,' (1861-1865)," May 2006. Finding aid at the archives of the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn Historical Society.

Biographical Notes

Daniel Richards was born c. 1795 in Montgomery County, N.Y., where he began his business career. He became a colonel of the 135th Regiment of the New York State militia in the 1820s and moved to New York City in 1827. He purchased property in Brooklyn's 12th Ward and took up residence in Brooklyn around 1832. Richards apparently lost control of his Atlantic Dock venture and attempted other business ventures, involving a Gowanus canal and the Pacific Dock Company; see his penciled notes regarding the outcome of the latter venture. Richards's notes and narratives on successes and failures are written on documents in the collection.

James De Peyster Ogden (1790-1870), a scion of two well-known New York families, began his business career as a clerk in a mercantile firm in New York City. He later became an overseas agent for his company and held the post of U.S. consul under President Andrew Jackson. (Death notice: April 7, 1870, New York Post.)

James S. T. Stranahan (James Samuel Thomas Stranahan, 1808-1898) was a native of Peterboro (Madison County), N.Y., where he engaged in business and agricultural ventures. He moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1845 and "was elected alderman of that city in 1848; was elected as a Whig to the Thirty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1855-March 3, 1857); was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1856 to the Thirty-fifth Congress; appointed as a member of the metropolitan police commission on January 1, 1857; presidential elector on the Republican tickets in 1860 and 1888; president of the board of trustees of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, N.Y.; director of the first Brooklyn Bridge and presided at its dedication May 28, 1884; died at his summer home at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., September 3, 1898; interment in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y." (United States Congress. Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, 1774-present," n.d., May 17, 2006, www.bioguide.congress.gov/biosearch). Stranahan was also a founder of the first U.S. Sanitary Fair in Brooklyn in 1863, a fund-raising fair to benefit Union soldiers and their families.

References:

Wheeler, William. The Ogden Family in America: Elizabethtown Branch. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1907.