The year was 1927 and the future had hardly ever looked brighter for the City of Camden. Times were prosperous, business and industry were booming, and the city was full of recently constructed public buildings, civic improvements, schools, the new Delaware River bridge and its new highway to the suburbs. The stock market crash of 1929 and the Depression that followed were in the unimagined future.
It was in these times that Camden prepare for its 100th anniversary, and in this spirit of optimism that the city fathers under the direction of Mayor Winfield S. Price commissioned the booklet whose text you will find below.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The City of Camden and the South Jersey Port Commission, early in 1928, presented to the House Committee on Naval Affairs a brief setting forth reasons why the Camden channel of the Delaware should he widened. Because it ably sets forth Camden's aims and substantial reasons why it expected Federal support, We quote from the brief as follows:]
CAMDEN ranks fifth among the cities of New Jersey in the value of manufactured products. The city has developed substantially in the past few years, commercially and industrially. The value of the manufactured products of Camden is $300,000,000, and the number of persons employed is 40,906, with an annual payroll of $85,000,000. As an indication of the diversified industrial growth of the city there are 360 manufacturing plants, among them being two of the world’s largest steel pen plants, the world’s largest soup milking concern, the world’s largest licorice plant, and the world’s largest talking machine company. A large part of the products of these plants is exported and a number of them import raw material.
There are 14 banking institutions in Camden with resources of $99,024,780.42, thus assuring adequate financing of commerce handled through the port of Camden.
For the calendar year of 1926, the total water-borne commerce of Camden was 977,154 short tons, valued at $15,008,655. Of this amount of tonnage 254,589 tons, with a value of $4,607,422, was coast-wise commerce.
Of the total water-borne traffic of Camden for the year 1926, amounting to 977,154 tons, a considerable portion, amounting to 254,589 tons, was coast-wise traffic, of which a majority is trucked from and to Philadelphia. Of the remaining tonnage, 123,979 was foreign commerce. A considerable portion of this traffic is likewise trucked from Philadelphia.
The cost of trucking from and to Philadelphia and Camden is well established, the cost ranging from $1.20 to $2.00 per ton. It is estimated, by representative shippers, that the cost of trucking from plants in Camden to the present municipal pier is 60 cents per ton. Upon these facts we feel fully justified in estimating the saving that will accrue to Camden commercial interests with the extension of the 30-foot channel, to be not less than $90,000 yearly.
Camden’s Port Possibilities
The South Jersey Port Commission knew that if public funds were to be used in extending the 30-foot channel on the Camden side of the River, Congress would expect Camden to provide facilities for vessels requiring that depth. Public interest was aroused; the business men or Camden gave strong support to the plans for port development; a unanimous endorsement by the municipal governing body was followed by a substantial majority upon a referendum vote or the people, whereby the terminal will be financed.
Camden is committed to an immediate expenditure or two million dollars on its new marine terminal. This provides for the purchase or 53 acres or centrally located waterfront property and the construction or the first unit or its development. The property adjoins the Municipal Pier and will provide altogether a frontage or 2370 feet for terminal use. It has a belt-line railroad service connecting with the Pennsylvania and the Reading systems.
The amount to be expended by the Commission for dredging alone, $385,000, exceeds the U. S. District Engineer’s estimate for expenditure by the Government for dredging the 30-root channel from Kaighn Point to Berkley Street, while the City or Camden has already authorized a total expenditure for the new terminal or more than six times the estimated cost or dredging the channel and its maintenance for the next twelve years.
The channel extension as recommended by the Army Engineers, will allow access by ocean carriers to the entire frontage or the new Marine Terminal.
The City of Camden is in full accord with the plans herein set forth. It is prepared to do all within its power to develop the port facilities of Camden.
This means much to the City or Camden and South Jersey. It will greatly develop and improve this section or the State of New Jersey.
This Terminal will be open to public use on equal terms to all.