#OnThisDay in 1818 the sailing packet James Monroe departed from Peck Slip on schedule. This fact may not sound revolutionary, but many historians mark this event as the start of New York City’s rise as a world port when the first scheduled “liner” service was established for passengers and cargo. Prior to this, ships would leave at the discretion of the captain or ship owner. Passengers and cargo could be sitting at the docks for weeks as captains filled their hulls so their voyages would be as profitable as possible.
The departure of the James Monroe for the Black Ball line on schedule, as advertised, was a calculated risk, but passengers and businesses embraced the predictability of scheduled departures. The success of this great experiment led to the flourishing sailing packet ship trade, and later the development of steam powered liner, concentrated in the Port of New York.
This barometer is from the vessel that started it all. Its plaque bears the inscription: “Presented by John Stuart, Esq. of the North West Company, Pafsenger [sic] of the A.P.S. James Monroe of New York as a testimony of respect to his esteemed friend captain James Watkinson, 1818.”