Previous to 1870 piers and crib bulkheads had been built around the water-front of Manhattan according to the "old plans," which had been devised in some instances by the city's street commissioner; in other instances as a direct result of action by the Legislature of the State; and had become in size and character inadequate to meet the growing demands of the commerce of the port. When a new City Charter was adopted by the Legislature in 1870, provision was made for a separate dock department to have charge of the water-front, which was known in the charter as the Board of Docks. This board was empowered under the laws of 1871 to adopt new plans for the improvement of the water-front, which, when they were once ratified by the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, became binding in regard to new construction. It is under this "new plan" that the work is proceeding to-day, though the old Board of Docks has been replaced by a single commissioner at the head of the Department of Docks and Ferries.