The Port of Boston (1916) by Edwin J. Clapp

Front Cover, The Port of Boston (1916) by Edwin J. Clapp

The Port of Boston:

A Study and a Solution of the Traffic and Operating Problems of Boston, and its Place in the Competition of the North Atlantic Seaports

Edwin J. Clapp, The Port of Boston: A Study and a Solution of the Traffic and Operating Problems of Boston, and its Place in the Competition of the North Atlantic Seaports, © 1916, Yale University Press, New York, Hardcover, 402 Pages. Cover is dark blue and on the front cover, the inscription reads "Compliments of Wm. A. Read & Co". Title is listed on spine.

Review of The Port of Boston by The American Economic Review (March 1917)

Transportation and Communication
The Port of Boston. By Edwin J. Clapp. (New Haven: Yale University Press. 1916. Pp. xii, 402. $2.50.)

This book had its origin in a private report prepared and submitted by the author as an expert adviser selected by the directors of the port of Boston to study the various traffic and operating problems of that great North Atlantic sea port and to suggest methods for developing the traffic of the Boston port in competition with other Atlantic ports.

Professor Clapp had previously demonstrated his familiarity with the conditions affecting foreign commerce and port development, notably in two successful books, The Navigable Rhine and The Port of Hamburg.

While the present book natural1y deals principally with traffic problems, these are so closely involved with the problems of port operation and the arrangements for the interchange of traffic between land and water carriers, that several chapters are necessarily devoted to the operating problems of the rail and water terminals.

As a seaport is primarily a point of interchange of freight and passengers between railroads and boat lines the study of a port also involves almost equal consideration of both rail and water transportation problems; and, while the port of Boston is the focus of the discussion, much attention is given throughout to the theory of port charges and operations, and the practices of other Atlantic ports are generally cited with regard to such matters as belt lines, lighterage, elevator charges, and port industries.

The author says that the whole discussion of the competition for export and import traffic of the American Middle West could as well appear m a book on New Orleans or Montreal.

Professor Clapp points out that the problem of the port of Boston, in the effort to attract commerce to the city, is not peculiar to that city alone, but that all of the North Atlantic ports have a similar problem. New York, alone, is embarrassed by so much freight seeking its ports that its problem is an engineering one involving the difficulties of handling the volume of traffic offered, while the other ports are mainly concerned with attracting a greater volume of business.

After pointing out the great importance of a port in developing the business not only of the city
but of the entire Kew England community, he analyzes the natural advantages and disadvantages of Boston's situation, suggesting improvements which will sense to attract business to the port, and also the many questions involved in the relation of freight rates to Boston as compared with those to other ports.

He urges a greater cooperation with the port authorities on the part of the railroads, find explains several ways in which he believes this cooperation could be manifested; but he is exceedingly fair in giving the railroads credit for doing more than any other factor to make the port what it is and in showing that it must be made worth their while to aid in the attempt to develop the traffic of the port, proposals regarding change in the system of port charges and in the method of interchanging traffic between the railroads and water lines.

He urges the necessity of greater effort on the part of Boston to advertise the advantages of the port throughout the West, as an offset to the system of differential freight rates which he con siders to be discriminatory against Boston and in fax or of other ports in many respects, in spite of the decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission. And especially he urges the importance of cultivating traffic from points of origin such as Kew England and Canada, from which the rates are more favorable to Boston, so tha.t the boat lines need not reduce their proportion of the through rates in order to take traffic from Boston rather than from other ports.

In addition to the greater nearness of Baltimore and Philadelphia to the leading point in the Middle West, which operates to the disadvantage of Boston so far as the relation of inland freight rate is concerned, he ca1Is attention to the fact that more ships are brought to Boston than can be loaded out, and shows the necessity of finding traffic for the outbound movement.

He also urges that greater attention be paid to building up the passenger travel via Boston.
Additional water lines to the Pacific coast, to Galveston, and for the coast wide service, he deems important; and in this connection he argues that it would be a mistake for the Interstate Commerce Commission to interfere with the ownership of water lines by Kew England railroads.

Among the physical changes which he recommends are a greater development of the opportunity for industrial expansion in the vicinity of the port, the construction of new pier facilities in accordance with plans which he outline , a system of car float for the exchange of traffic in tl1e harbor, and a union belt line railroad to coordinate the terminal facilities of the rail carriers.

The book is a valuable addition to the literature on the subject of rail and water freight rates and operating problems, which is comparatively limited except for more formal reports and documents, and the material not only is valuable to any student of the subject but is presented in an interesting manner.

H. F. Lane
Washington, D. C.

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

Personal name
  • Clapp, Edwin Jones, 1881-1930.
Main title
  • The port of Boston; a study and a solution of the traffic and operating problems of Boston, and its place in the competition of the north Atlantic seaports, by Edwin J. Clapp.
  • New Haven, Yale University Press, 1916.


  • xii, 402 p. maps., plates, plans (part fold.) 22 cm.

LC classification (full)

  • HE554.B6 C5

LC classification (partial)

  • HE554.B6


  • Harbors--Massachusetts--Boston.
  • Shipping--Massachusetts--Boston.
  • Boston (Mass.)--Commerce.


  • 16009269

Other system no.

  • (OCoLC)237416

Type of material

  • Book


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