The first general agents in Norway was A. Sharpe - Kybring in Kristinia, authorized in 1873. The authorization was to convey emigrants by steamship via Hull and Liverpool to Philadelphia and from there to the final destinations in America. In Trondheim the line was represented by agent Christoffer Franck, (an artillery staff sergeant) from 1875.
The American Line was formed as the American Steamship Company in 1872. The main interests behind the company was Clement A. Griscom and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. The 4 first iron screw steamers built for the company were the Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania, all alike, built and engined by Cramp Shipbuilding Company. Each ship being 343 feet long, 43 feet broad, 34½ feet deep, brig rigged, with vertical two-crank compound engines having cylinders 57 and 90 inches in diameter, 4 feet stroke, boiler pressure 60 pounds to the square inch. Their first route was opened in 1873 between Liverpool - Queenstown - Philadelphia. The service was inaugurated by the Pennsylvania in May, 1873. The Liverpool service was discontinued in 1884
In 1884 the American Line was bought by the International Navigation Company of Philadelphia, owners of the Red Star Line. The American line was in some respect merged with the Red Star Line, but was still continued under the American Line name and the old American Line steamers still remained under US flag. As the International Navigation Company gradually expanded the fleet, the new ships were built in England and flew either the English or Belgian flag, as being cheaper to operate. The Red Star line service was running between Antwerp, New York and Philadelphia, In 1886 the International Company also bought the Inman Line, running between New York and Liverpool. Ships originally owned and operated by the different lines appears to have been shifted around to operate where they were needed.
In 1893 a new American Line service was begun to Southampton. The same year the management acquired Pier 14, the largest Steamship Pier in New York for the American Line service. The new pier was fitted with a second story so that passengers and their baggage were kept entirely separated from the handling of freight and movement of trucks and carriages when embarking or landing in New York. This pier was situated at the foot of Vesey and Fulton street, adjoining the Cortlandt street Ferry of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was close to the ferry terminus of the Baltimore & Ohio ; New Jersey Central ; Philadelphia & Reading; Erie ; Delaware, Lackawana & Western; New York, Ontario & Western ; and West Shore Railroads ; also, the Fall River & Stonington Lines, to New England points.
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