Port Cities

Carola Hein

in The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199589531
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Port Cities

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This article begins with a brief historical introduction that illustrates the interaction between ship, port, and city in the pre-modern era. It then explores the modern era from the mid-nineteenth century, characterized by major global changes, transformation of shipping networks, and new players following industrialization. In the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, European nations and port cities dominated and controlled global harbours. The main maritime control centres and the greatest ports were European, including London, Liverpool, and Hamburg. During this period, steamships emerged as the main carriers of goods and people, rendering travel cheaper, faster, and more reliable, and facilitating the immigration waves of the nineteenth century. Starting in the early twentieth century, the United States became a major global player, with New York and San Francisco becoming port centres in their own right. The opening of new markets in China and Japan in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought new port cities such as Hong Kong, Canton, and Shanghai to the global centre stage. Since the 1960s, extensive globalization and containerization have reshaped all ports and port cities. These dynamics spurred governments to both transform and revitalize former inner-city ports and construct new deep harbours.

Keywords: port city; ships; ports; cities; globalization; containerization; Europe; United States; China; Japan

Article.  8278 words. 

Subjects: History ; Maritime History

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