At the time of Unification ( 1861 ) Genoa, whose port was the largest and most modern of the Peninsula, became the maritime capital of the Italian State and still holds this leading position. In the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, when the Italian industrial take-off occurred, Genoa not only became one of most industrialised cities but also the maritime terminal of the country’s most economically advanced area, the so-called ‘industrial triangle’. This article examines, from a quantitative and qualitative standpoint, shipping, cargo and passenger traffics trends and the evolution of the port’s functional role during the period under consideration. It also attempts to outline the economic and occupational magnitude of the Genoese commercial and industrial port-related activities. Moreover, the analysis is focused on the port’s maritime infrastructures and cargo handling equipment projected and created over a century and on the difficult relationship between the port system and the urban context.