The twentieth century was a period of transformation for ports and shipping. At the dawn of the last century, coal-fired ships were the norm; tramp steamers scoured the world for business; European-registered vessels dominated seaborne commerce; ships of all kinds spent much time in port; ports themselves were labour-intensive; complex and extensive port communities were consequently distinctive elements of urban docklands; and concerns over the environmental impacts of ports and shipping were virtually non-existent. As the century progressed, each of these features changed, some steadily, others rapidly. Writing in 1981, the editors of Cityport Industrialisation reviewed this dynamism through the work of a wide range of shipping and port specialists, and speculated on the issues likely to be encountered towards the end of the century (Pinder and Hoyle 1981). More than two decades later, in the early years of the twenty-first century, this present volume provides an opportunity to build on that analysis. In doing so, attention is focused on three recurrent, interrelated and key contexts highlighted by the 1981 review: globalisation, technological change and the environment.