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Sustainable Rotterdam

The city is re-inventing itself

The world is just a container away

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Containers are intrinsically linked to Rotterdam up to the extreme to make a tourist attraction out of it (Spido). The modern container is basically a standardized way of moving goods either by boat, train or truck, which fifty years ago revolutionized cargo shipping. On April 26th 1956, a boat loaded with 58 aluminum containers went from Newark to Houston initiating a global revolution. The new method for handling dry goods replaced traditional break bulk where goods are handled in pallets. Wikipedia inform us that 'today, approximately 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide moves by containers stacked on transport ships. 26% of all containers originate from China. As of 2005, some 18 million total containers make over 200 million trips per year'
However, meanwhile trade and moving goods is an exponentially increasing activity, Rotterdam decided to face its future development towards creative industries. As result, several 'havens' are shifting containers per creative clusters of industry, R&D, and education. Will the 'creative economy' bring a revolution like the container did?

- The Box, How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger
by Marc Levinson
In a recent column published at the Financial Times, Marc Levinson illustrated the effects of the container revolution. For an in-detail description, check the book. 'By dramatically lowering freight costs, the container transformed economic geography. Some of the world's great ports - London and Liverpool, New York and San Francisco - saw their bustling waterfronts decay as the maritime industry decamped to new locations with room to handle containers and transport links to move them in and out. Manufacturers, no longer tied to the waterfront to reduce shipping costs, moved away from city centers, decimating traditional industrial districts. Eventually, production moved much farther afield, to places such as South Korea and China, which took advantage of cheap, reliable transportation to make goods that could not have been exported profitably before containerisation'

Recommended - The Container Story, a film by Thomas Greh
'This film tells the story of the container box. It shows the influence the container has had on trade, on wars, and on the economy, on housewives, dockworkers and car manufacturers' Thomas Greh presents the birth and evolution of the container box from the inside with his film by using archival footage and experience intriguing, lively interviews with Malcom McLean (father of modern container), his family, and his business partners.

50th Container Anniversary at Flikr

posted by Oriol P., 1:48 PM


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