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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Commercial Cable Company
Coney Island Cable House

The Commercial Cable Company's first Atlantic cable was laid in 1884 from Waterville, Ireland, to Dover Bay, Nova Scotia, and on to Coney Island, New York. The Coney Island landing point was towards the east end of Manhattan Beach, a location also used for subsequent cables operated by the company. This page on Bill McLaughlin's website has an illustration and a short news item on the 1884 landing.

The German Atlantic cable of 1900 and a second German cable laid in 1904, both of which were managed by CCC, also terminated at Coney Island.

Adjacent to the CCC's cable house was one established by Western Union when the company's 1881 Atlantic cable was extended from Nova Scotia to New York in 1889.

According to a report on the Commercial Cable Company published in 1904 by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers the cable houses were situated “one thousand feet east of the Oriental Hotel”, which would place them towards the east end of present-day Manhattan Beach Park. From there the cables ran under Sheepshead Bay then overland (via the Brooklyn Bridge) to the company's offices at 20 Broad Street in Manhattan.

The route of the cable across Brooklyn is described in this 1899 article in the New York Times. Oddly, an article from 30 August 1894, also in the New York Times, reports that this land route was about to be abandoned by the CCC because of electrical currents from trolley cars interfering with the telegraph signals, to be replaced by an extension of the undersea cable from Coney Island around to New York Bay and up to “Pier A, North River”.

The Coney Island cable house was used until 1912, when the landings were transferred a short distance east to the company's new cable station at Far Rockaway.

View a larger map

The map shows the location of the Oriental Hotel and the Commercial Cable Company and Western Union cable houses (see photographs and drawings below). The line beginning at the flag marker at the foot of Ocean Avenue on the north side of Sheepshead Bay shows the approximate route of the landline cable to the CCC offices at Broad Street in Manhattan, which may be followed by dragging or zooming the map.

Henry Ash sketches of the Coney Island landing site, drawn in 1884 and 1899:

October 18, 1884
Coney Island near New York
Landing place of the MacKay Bennett Dover Bay Cable
Library and Archives Canada - Henry Ash Fonds: e04414152

November 7, 1889
Cable House, Coney Island, New York
Left hand Commercial Cable Co.'s (MacKay Bennett) 1884 cable landing place. Right Hand Western Union Telegraph Co.'s (Gould) 1889 cable landing place
Library and Archives Canada - Henry Ash Fonds: e04414161

November 7, 1889
Coney Island New York
Landing place of the 1889 New York Canso Telegraph Cables
Library and Archives Canada - Henry Ash Fonds: e04414162

Photographs of the cable houses in 1909:

Commercial Cable Company and Western Union
cable houses, Coney Island, 1909
Bill Holly Collection

Detail of Commercial Cable Company's
Coney Island cable house
Bill Holly Collection

The two Cable Huts
The Point where one of the Cables enters the Sea
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Historical Society, date unknown

Last revised: 9 February, 2020

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