“Banana Docks, New York” c. 1906. Via The Library of Congress
If you’ve ever grabbed a bushel of bananas at your corner bodega, then you’ve nabbed a few of the 20 million bananas distributed around NYC every week. Today, our bananas dock at small piers in Red Hook, or, more often, make the journey by truck from Delaware. But, from the late 19th century until well into the 20th, New York was a major banana port, and banana boats hauled their cargo to the city’s bustling Banana Docks on the piers at Old Slip.
Surveying that cargo in August 1897, The New York Times wrote that the banana trade thrived in New York year-round, but the bulk of bananas hit the five boroughs between March and September. “They are brought to New York in steamers, carrying from 15,000 to 20,000 bunches…There is quite a fleet of small steamers engaged almost exclusively in the banana trade, and during the busy season many more steamers of greater size are employed.”