About the Port Authority
History of the Port Authority

The impetus for the Port Authority's formation can be traced back more than 300 years. First, there was the accident of political history that divided a common port area between what ultimately became the states of New York and New Jersey. In time, the division of the harbor - a vital source of commerce and growth - led to controversy in the region.
Throughout the 19th century, New York and New Jersey waged many disputes over their valuable, shared harbor and waterways. A dispute over the boundary line through the harbor and the Hudson River - settled by the Treaty of 1834 - once led state police to exchange shots in the middle of the river. The impasse eased when the two states agreed that the port area was, in effect, one community and that conflict squandered the port's potential. The states sought a governmental body to oversee port affairs and found a model in the Port of London, administered by what was then the only public authority in the world.
On April 30, 1921, The Port of New York Authority was established to administer the common harbor interests of New York and New Jersey. The first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, the organization was created under a clause of the Constitution permitting Compacts between states, with Congressional consent. An area of jurisdiction called the "Port District," a bistate region of about 1,500 square miles centered on the Statue of Liberty, was established. In 1972, the organization's name was changed to The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to more accurately identify our role as a bistate agency.

In 1930, the two states gave the Port Authority control of the recently opened Holland Tunnel as a financial cornerstone. Immediately, we began blazing new paths in transportation, engineering, law and administration - a precedent that is still seen today through our commitment to the people of this region, and the region's advancement. The Port Authority's first charge was to construct the critical interstate crossings in the late 1920s and early 1930s, including the George Washington Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing, the Goethals and Bayonne bridges. In 1937, the first tube of the Lincoln Tunnel was completed.
In the late 1940s, at the cities' request, the Port Authority leased three airports from Newark, NJ and New York City in anticipation of the jet age. Newark and LaGuardia airports, along with an infant airport on a large meadow destined to become John F. Kennedy International, were linked into a regional aviation network.
In the 1950s and 1960s, we built the Port Authority Bus Terminal and added a second deck to the George Washington Bridge. We completed the Lincoln Tunnel's third tube, rebuilt many Brooklyn piers and developed the world's first containerports at Port Newark and the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal. The Port Authority also acquired the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad and began operating it as the PATH rail transit system.
In the 1970s, we helped advance the region's interests in port and trade promotion through construction of The World Trade Center, which brought together private firms and government agencies engaged in international business. The two towers became the hallmark of the New York City skyline, reaching higher than any other skyscraper in the city. Today, the memory of the Twin Towers remains a symbol of unity, freedom and strength as we help to rebuild Lower Manhattan.
During the 1980s, the Port Authority began a bistate program of industrial redevelopment, aimed at helping the region retain manufacturing firms and jobs. We developed various projects in the two states: The Teleport, a telecommunications center in Staten Island, NY; the Legal Center in Newark, NJ; a resource recovery plant; industrial parks and waterfront development in New York and New Jersey.
In the mid-1990s, we concentrated our efforts on the transportation and trade projects that constitute our core mission. Among significant improvements, we developed ExpressRail, the on-dock ship-to-rail transfer terminal at the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; enhanced facilities at our three regional airports; installed a system to provide train status information in stations to PATH riders; and introduced the E-ZPassSM electronic toll collection system at our tunnels and bridges and an Intelligent Transportation System at the George Washington Bridge.

Our $8.7 billion investment program is already upgrading and improving our facilities, renewing and preserving our region's infrastructure. Initiatives include the November 2003 opening of the temporary PATH station at The World Trade Center site; developing a permanent PATH terminal and a WTC Transportation Hub; the December 2003 opening of AirTrain JFK; making improvements at LaGuardia, Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports; expanding ferry service; redeveloping and expanding Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island, NY; deepening our port's shipping channels to accommodate the next generation of deep-draft containerships; and furthering security projects at many of our facilities.