The fascinating history of the Manhattan piers along the Hudson could fill volumes. One of the easiest ways of reaching this fascinating area is perhaps to leave the subway at Union Square and transfer to a bus along 14th Street towards the Hudson. Down by the West Side Highway is the Highline. The former railway line, reborn as a spectacular walk is a great way, not only of seeing a vibrant slice of Manhattan, but also for spotting a clutch of famous piers. As you ascend to the walkway, one of the first views facing you is the skeleton of the gate to Pier 54.

On 1 May 1915, the Lusitania slipped her moorings for the very last time, here at Pier 54, only to be torpedoed off Ireland a week or so later. The Titanic was expected at Pier 59, one of the Chelsey Piers in April 1912, never to arrive. The famous Chelsey Piers, where transatlantic liners docked and where thousands of visitors bade their farewells with New York, were a hive of activity for deep sea travel up until around 1935, when the liners started to outgrow the facilities. A new larger New York Cruise Terminal was constructed slightly further up the Hudson between W46th Street and W54th Street.

As the passengers abandoned the piers, the freight operators moved in. United States Lines and Grace Lines used the piers for many years. The City of Flint docked at Pier 58, which today is no more than a pattern of rotting timbers between the Marine & Aviation Pier 57 and the first of the remaining Chelsey Piers, Pier 59.