August 27, 2014

If you’re celebrating anything and everything before the end of summer this week, we have another for you to throw on the pile: New York City’s 350th birthday party!

English: Bird's eye panorama of Manhattan & Ne...
Bird’s eye panorama of Manhattan & New York City in 1873 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What, you didn’t buy a gift?

Well, you can keep that credit card in your wallet, as very few folks will be celebrating what we might expect to be quite a historic milestone for our area. It turns out that Americans aren’t big on breaking out the bubbly to mark the arrival of the British, regardless of how many centuries have passed.

As the piece explains, no major events are planned for the city on this particular birthday. Some would argue that 1664 has no business even being recognized as the city’s DOB. These folks would instead direct us to 1625, and the settlement of a sleepy little Dutch outpost called New Amsterdam, on the land where now some of the world’s most crucial financial players ply their trade.

One way or another, there’s not a lot of birthday cake being passed around on either occasion.

An interesting side-note in this history lesson – and one more closely related to our profession – is just how crucial a role the East coast’s ports and waterways played in the ownership and development of our region.

If you read all the way through the New York Times article linked earlier, you’ll notice that the British takeover of New Amsterdam was largely achieved by leveraging their increasingly powerful naval influence at key points along the Hudson River and Verrazano Narrows. The battle was a bloodless one, in part due to the declining power of the Dutch incumbents, but also because the Brits found a way to control these key entry and exit points to the city.

Even today, with air travel dominant and the car as the main mode of transport to traverse the country, ports on the East and West coasts dominate the decisions made by supply chain planners. For sheer size of volume and cost-effectiveness, it’s hard to beat the power of a ship coming into port.

Whether the British knew this 350 years ago, or simply got lucky with one of many imperial “acquisitions” is up for debate. What’s completely certain is that they won’t be invited back for a party!

January 29, 2014
The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...
Super Bowl trophy on display . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Super Bowl XLVIII descends on New Jersey this weekend, much has been made of the decision to host the world’s largest individual sporting event in the tri-state area.

The heavy traffic and colder weather conditions have some predicting a less enjoyable big game experience than previous years. Meanwhile, others in similarly ‘tough winter’ states are rooting for NY/NJ to put on a spectacle that will pave the way for cities like Boston, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh to host future Super Bowls.

Much of the outcome will depend on how well the logistics of the event have been planned in advance and are managed on the day.


Traffic Trouble

One of the biggest concerns for attendees is how to get to the stadium. For all of its big game pedigree, being home to two well-supported NFL teams and hosting numerous events by international artists throughout the year, the Meadowlands complex can be a tough location to access. Roads wind around the stadium in every direction, but the tight nature and numerous choke points make it difficult to imagine fans, officials and the national media descending upon the location without severe jams.

To expedite (or, more accurately, to execute) the automobile concern, the NFL implemented a controversial mandate of only two options for fans to gain access to the stadium area: either ride NJ transit at the usual rates or pay a $51 premium to take the ‘Fan Express’ shuttle service,  approved by the NFL. Rather than see this as a move full of logistical foresight, most are calling it as an exercise in extortion by the NFL. That view is somewhat supported by the fact that no-one will be allowed to walk into the Meadowlands area either, with only safety and security as the potential reasoning.

The concern over traffic is justified, but the measures to tackle it will seem like overkill to almost everyone outside of the NFL organization.


Winter Worries

Finally, we come to the weather. Cities across the U.S. have been battered by the polar vortex and subsequent icy blasts from the Arctic, but only one of those locations is the focus for thousands of fans and more than 100 million viewers this weekend.

Even if the weather cooperates for the athletes at the Super Bowl, it could hold challenges for the transportation system. The tri-state area has experienced weeks of frozen temperatures and a couple of snow storms, each of which has delayed public transit to some extent. On the flip side, that makes transit authorities all the more used to dealing with such conditions and able to plan fall back logistics for areas they know could be a problem.

If the extended forecast as of today is accurate, though, they won’t need them, as the snow is expected to hold off until Monday. At last, something we can all cheer together.

Whether you’re at home or heading out to Super Bowl XLVIII, stay safe and enjoy the big game!


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