A really good article - Humans Made the Banana Perfect—But Soon, It’ll Be Gone by Rob Dunn. Read it for yourself to discover the history, ecology and how scientists are trying to save the diversity of life in order to save the unique looking banana, a plant that is both a fruit and herb.
At one time, New York Harbor was an important importer of bananas from South America. In an October 19, 1987 article in the New York Times entitled, "Death of a Ritual: Working the Last Of Pier 42's Cargo" author Sam Roberts reported that major banana companies shipped their goods into New York Harbor. He writes:
"Pier 42 on the East River was built in 1963 as a newsprint terminal. Now it is making headlines. It is the last operating cargo pier in Manhattan, handling an average of 935 million bananas a year, most of them, like those arriving on the freighter Tropical Morn, grown in Ecuador and destined for distribution by the Dole Fresh Fruit Company."
Author Rob Dunn points out, it was the Fresh Fruit Company that invested in its ability to transport bananas to New York City, but "little was invested in understanding the biology of bananas themselves."
A decade later, David W. Chin reported in the New York Times that New York was still trying to save its fragile banana import business in 1997. The article states:
"To prevent the area's last banana importer from leaving, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey each promised yesterday to contribute $2 million to help build a new warehouse on Staten Island for the company that distributes Bonita bananas. That $4 million, coupled with an earlier $1 million pledge from Staten Island Borough President Guy V. Molinari's office, will allow the importer, Ecuadorian Line, to move from its outmoded warehouse in Port Newark to a new building with temperature and humidity controls in Howland Hook -- and not to Gloucester, N.J., near Camden, as it had threatened to do a few months ago. The company had said that moving would be cheaper than renovating its existing warehouse."
Today, the United States is the number one banana importer. It takes in nearly 19 percent of the global market with bananas mostly coming from Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, and Panama. But Wilmington, Delaware is the largest banana import port in North America, not New York Harbor.
Currently, New York Harbor's top ten imports are:
7. Oils and perfumes
9. Optical and photographic
10. Pearls and precious gems and metals