The Port of Newark lies on the banks of the Passaic River and on Newark Bay in the United States' State of New Jersey. Only 13 kilometers west of Manhattan Island, the Port of Newark is four kilometers northwest of the Port of New York and about 120 kilometers northeast of the Port of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. The Port of Newark is the biggest city in New Jersey and the seat of Essex County. Serving New York Harbor, the Port of Newark is the busiest container shipping port on Newark Bay. In 2006, over 281 thousand people lived in the Port of Newark, and more than 2.1 million lived in the Newark-Union Maryland metropolitan area.
The Port of Newark is home to a wide range of businesses including retail, wholesale, and banking establishments. Three of New Jersey's largest banks are located in the Port of Newark. It is also the country's third-busiest insurance center, being the birth place of both Prudential Financial and Mutual Benefit. Many major corporations are headquartered in the Port of Newark. In the past, the Port of Newark was an industrial giant in the United States. Although much of that industry has since disappeared, the Port of Newark still has many industries. The city's service sector is growing quickly, replacing the disappearing factories.
The Port of Newark was founded in 1666 by Puritans who moved there from Connecticut. The settlers bought the land from the indigenous Delaware peoples. Naming the town Pesayak Town, then New Milford, the name Newark may have honored the home town of Reverend Abraham Pierson who came there from Newark-on-Trent in England. Some think the name came from the Christian Bible (New Ark). The Port of Newark was made seat of Essex County in 1682 and received its township charter in 1693.
In the new United States of America, after the Revolution, the Port of Newark was known for its jewelry and show manufacturing and leather tanning. During the 19th Century, the Port of Newark was a center for innovation. Its shoe industry was an early economic mainstay, boosted by inventor Seth Boyden to develop a process for manufacturing patent leather in 1818. He is also believed to be the first maker of malleable cast iron in 1826. Another Port of Newark citizen, the Reverend Hannibal Goodwin, patented motion picture film in 1887. Edward Weston invented electrical measuring instruments in 1888.
In 1921, the Port of New York Authority was established to administer the shared harbor interests of New York and New Jersey's Port of Newark. The authority was the first inter-state agency created under the Constitutional clause allowing compacts between states. The port authority's first responsibility in the 1920s and 1930s was to build inter-state crossings including the George Washington Bridge among several others. In 1937, the authority completed the first tube of the Lincoln Tunnel.
In the middle 20th Century, suburbanization changed the ethnic face of the Port of Newark as middle-class whites abandoned the inner city. This movement was quickened by rioting in 1967. In 1970, the Port of Newark's first black mayor, Kenneth A. Gibson, faced many urban problems that included poverty, AIDS, and high rates of infant mortality. With whites moving to the suburbs, the African American population rose to about 60% by 1990.
In the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, the port authority played a critical role in the region's post-war boom by improving and expanding the trade and transportation infrastructure, creating new terminals, tunnels, bridges, airports, and seaports. The port authority further promoted trade and ports when it constructed the World Trade Center, two towers that became a hallmark for New York City until the tragedy of 2001 brought them down.
The port authority's name was changed in 1972 to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, better reflecting its bi-state role. In the 1980s, the port authority undertook industrial redevelopment in the region, implementing several projects in both states and in the Port of Newark that included the Teleport in Staten Island, a resource-recovery plant, and industrial parks and waterfront developments.
In the 1990s, the port authority focused on transportation and trade projects. Among the improvements were the one-dock ship-to-rail transfer terminal at the Port of Newark Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal in New Jersey.
As the 21st Century began, the port authority created a plan to rebuilt the World Trade Center, built a new rail tunnel, enhance port facility security, and upgrade the seaports to handle increasing international cargo volumes.
Being so close to New York City, the Port of Newark is in one of the United State's most densely populated and highly-industrialized areas. It is still an important industrial center. Manufacturers in the Port of Newark produce leather goods, electronic equipment, chemicals, jewelry, rubber, textiles, furniture, foodstuffs, fixtures, and industrial machinery. Other important economic contributors in the Port of Newark are publishing, printing, and insurance. With one of the world's busiest airports and a major seaport, the Port of Newark is an important distribution hub for goods.