The Busiest United States Cargo Shipping Ports
Oakland, CA – One of the major container shipping ports in the United States, the Port of Oakland opened as a deep water port in 1874. The Port of Oakland began admitting container ships in the 1960s, which greatly increased the amount of cargo that went through the port. For a brief period during the 1960s, the Port of Oakland was the second largest port in the U.S. by container weight.
Long Beach, CA – Not only is the Port of Long Beach recognized as one of the largest and most important U.S. seaports, it is also a worldwide leader in environmentally safe cargo transport. The port maintains a Green Port Policy as part of its Environmental Management System in accordance with the recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Seattle, WA – Like the seaport in Long Beach, the Port of Seattle is also an environmental leader in terms of maritime cargo transport. In 2011, the port agreed upon an ambitious and progressive set of 25-year environmental goals for the Port of Seattle as it works toward reducing its environmental footprint and maximizing its use of clean energy. The port is more than 100 years old and continues to be one of the busiest United States seaports.
Tacoma, WA – One of the major container ports in North America, the Port of Tacoma has a history that differs slightly from many of the others on this list. The City of Tacoma more or less grew out of the development of the port, rather than the other way arounds, as is more typical. The port was established in 1918 and its early connection to the transportation industry was largely due to the city being chosen as the end point of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Houston, TX – The Port of Houston is one of the busiest in the United States, second only to the Port of New Orleans in terms of total tonnage. The Port of Houston plays a central role in the local and state economy and is considered the largest landlocked port in the U.S., requiring 50 miles of travel through a narrow channel to reach Houston’s Turning Basin.
Norfolk, VA – The Port of Virginia in Norfolk, like many on the East Coast, was established early in the settlement of the U.S. and has a long history as a center for importing and exporting goods. In addition to being a center for trade, the Naval Station at Norfolk represents the largest of its kind in the world.
Los Angeles, CA – The Port of Los Angeles is the top rated U.S. seaport in terms of yearly cargo volume and value. As a result, it also maintains the largest port police force of any in the country, as well being a leader in efficiency and environmental stewardship among U.S. ports. The Port of Los Angeles officially opened to trade in 1907 and saw a significant increase in activity following the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.
Savannah, GA – Since 2000, the Port of Savannah has been one of the fastest growing seaports in the U.S. Thanks to the easy access available to major cities like Atlanta, Orlando & Charlotte, the Port of Savannah is a key port for the importation of retail goods. Major retailers like Target and IKEA even have their own warehouses at the Georgia port.
Charleston, SC – The Port of Charleston ships to more than 140 different countries around the world and is another major importer/exporter on the East Coast with ties to cargo transport that go back hundreds of years. Thanks to the easy access provided to the Atlantic Ocean from the port, it has long been a major U.S. seaport, handling millions of dollars of cargo on a daily basis.
New York/New Jersey – The busiest and largest port on the East Coast, the Port of New York/New Jersey is the third largest seaport in the United States. With yearly cargo values that approach $200 billion, the port is also one of the most valuable trade routes in the world, providing access to a large and influential consumer market.
Philadelphia – A port city since the early days of colonization, the Port of Philadelphia long reigned as the center of commerce and trade during the early years of U.S. settlement. The East Coast port, which is situated on the border of Philadelphia side of the Delaware River across from New Jersey, is one of the most prominent on the eastern seaboard.
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Resources For United States Ports
Satellite Map Of Ports – A satellite view map of the major ports and harbors in the U.S., color coded by size. You can also search other ports around the world using the interactive map of worldwide ports.
American Association Of Port Authorities – A collection of information and statistics for ports in Canada, the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America.