The Port of Gennevilliers is an industrial suburb about nine kilometers northwest of the heart Paris in north central France. Industries first located there due to the river port in Gennevilliers, and the town is still a major container port in the Paris region. While industry has declined over the years, the Port of Gennevilliers is home to manufacturers of automobile and aeronautical components, metal products, electronics, and chemicals. In 2004, more than 42 thousand people lived in the Port of Gennevilliers.
The first plan that considered constructing a port in Gennevilliers was drawn up in 1914 with the goal of connecting the area with France’s rail networks and with Paris. In 1917, the Gennevilliers municipal council commissioned two engineers to draft plans for the port which they adopted in 1920. Geological surveys began in 1925, and construction of two wet docks was begun in 1928.
The first two basins in the Port of Gennevilliers were completed in 1931, but World War II would delay their use until after the war. After the French-German Armistice of 1940, the Port of Gennevilliers continued digging operations. In 1942, German troops occupied the coal wharf and the hydrocarbon company in the Port of Gennevilliers, and the workers that had been digging the port were redirected to German military projects.
In 1944, the Germans were driven out of Paris and surrounding areas, and American troops moved in. During the war, all of the bridges between Gennevilliers and the sea (which had been too low to allow passage for large ships) had been destroyed, giving the builders the opportunity to replace them with higher bridges that would accommodate larger vessels.
In 1946, the first two wet docks (built in 1931) began operations, a new wet dock for liquid fuels was started, and rail connections were established. The Port of Gennevilliers began to attract heavy industries into the area. By
1950, the port handled 450 thousand tons of cargo. In 1950, the Department of the Seine was responsible for building the port infrastructure, and the Paris Chamber of Commerce provided heavy equipment like cranes and gantries. Local industries leased and sublet the warehouses.
In 1955, two new basins came into service, and stores and warehouses covered more than three hectares by 1957. In that year, a new grain silo, perhaps the largest in Europe, was opened with capacity for 2.3 tons. Corns from all over France are mixed, creating the well-known “corn of Gennevilliers.”
By 1958, the Port of Gennevilliers had 32 thousand square meters of storage space, 12 kilometers of banks, and 27 kilometers of rail connections. Cargo traffic reached 986 vessel calls and 119.6 thousand tons of cargo through the port that year. In 1960, the fifth basin containing the third wet dock began operations, adding about 1.3 million tons of cargo to the Port of Gennevilliers.
In 1963, the fourth wet dock and sixth turning basin created a new international cargo-handling area. The dock included storage for about 300 thousand cubic meters of hydrocarbons that could supply Paris for six months. In 1965, automobiles (mainly Renault) were added to the cargoes passing through the Port of Gennevilliers.
By 1970, cargo traffic reached nine million tons, with the major cargoes being construction materials, hydrocarbons, agricultural and industrial products, coals, and vehicles. New factories were constructed, and a site was built for the recovery and storage of scrap and household refuse. The Port of Gennevilliers traffic reached its peak in the 1970s when it was France’s first oil port and an important general-purpose port.
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