A wharf is a landing place or pier where ships may tie up and load or unload.
A wharf commonly comprises a fixed platform, often on pilings. They often serve as interim storage areas with warehouses, since the typical objective is to unload and reload vessels as quickly as possible. Where capacity is sufficient a single quay constructed along the land adjacent to the water is normally used; where there is a need for more capacity many wharves will instead be constructed projecting into the water, as with the well known collection of wharves in San Francisco. A pier, raised over the water rather than within it, is one type of wharf, commonly used for cases where the weight or volume of cargos will be low.
Smaller and more modern wharves are sometimes built on flotation devices (pontoons) to keep them at the same level to the ship even during changing tides.
- Canary Wharf, London, England, part of the London Docklands and now redeveloped into commercial space which contains the 3 tallest buildings in Britain.
- Burrells Wharf, London, England, a wharf in Isle of Dogs in London Docklands.
- Tideway Wharf in London http://www.TidewayWharf.com
- Salford Quays, Salford, England is an area at the end of the Manchester Ship Canal.
- Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia, part of the Sydney central business district, Circular Quay is a popular attraction and major transporting hub in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
- Finger Wharf or Woolloomooloo Wharf in Woolloomooloo Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
- Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California, USA, now redeveloped into a tourist area with stores and restaurants in addition to serving its maritime purpose.
- Long Wharf, Boston, a wharf at the focal point in Boston Harbor
- Derby (1762), Hatch's (1819) and Central (1791) Wharves in Salem, Massachusetts are the last of the 50 wharves which lined Salem harbor. They are part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the only remaining intact waterfront from the US age of sail. In 1790, Salem was the sixth largest city in the country.
- Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui of Hong Kong, formerly a series of wharves, now developed into a cruise terminal and shopping malls owned by The Wharf.
- Burnley Wharf, Southampton, England.
- Pinto Wharf, Valletta, Malta
- Princes Wharf, Auckland, New Zealand
- Ferry Wharf, Bombay (Mumbai), India
- Electric Wharf, Coventry, England, home to social networking website Youmeo this Wharf was originally an electricity factory that has been renivated to house offices and apartments.
The word comes from the Old English hwearf
, meaning "bank" or "shore", and its plural is either wharfs
, or, especially in American English
; collectively a group of these is referred to as a wharfing
In the northeast and east of England the term staithe or staith (from the Norse for landing stage) is also used. For example Dunston Staiths in Gateshead and Brancaster Staithe in Norfolk. Though the term staithe may be used to refer only to loading chutes or ramps used for bulk commodities like coal in loading ships and barges.