The South Street Seaport Museum
A Time Machine To Old New York
The South Street Seaport is one of the few areas left in New York City that can transport you back in time 200 years to Old New York, a place where there were many Taverns, Tall Sailing Ships, Sea Captains, Counting Houses and Pirates.
South Street Seaport
photo Â© by Judy Ferony
The Pirates have given way to Tourists, the Counting Houses to Trendy Boutiques and the Sea Captains to Entrepreneurs. The Seaport Area was hit hard by Super Storm Sandy, I wrote this Lens to raise awareness in hopes that people will open up their hearts (and wallets) and donate their time and / or money in helping the museum to get back on it's feet, I'd hate to see this museum close it is truly a NYC treasure.
Update: January 17: THE SOUTH STREET SEAPORT IS OPEN!
Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the Reopening
Schermerhorn Row The Seaport's Architectural Centerpiece
On the South side of Fulton Street between South Street and Water Street sits the architectural centerpiece of the South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Georgian-Federal-style red brick commercial buildings, on lots bought in 1793 (out of speculation) by Peter Schemerhorn a ship chandler who bought water lots and filled them in. It was actually a law back then that if you bought waterfront property you had to build 200 feet out into the water; timbers were laid down in a crosshatch type of pattern called cribbing which enabled the builders to construct buildings on these floating platforms. About 800 feet around the tip of Manhattan is landfill, they would use rubbish, or sink boats that were no longer in service (and fill them with rubbish) or fill from construction sites; as a matter of fact when they were building the present day South Street Seaport we've come to know and love, the architects and engineers decided to keep the landfill in place; they found that it was stable and able to bare the load of the new build. The site of the World Trade Center was actually in the Hudson River when plans for The Twin Towers were first conceived. Most of the buildings that make up Schemerhorn Row were where the cargo was unloaded and the second floor was used as counting houses, this was where all the merchandise would have been cataloged (or counted). Most of the waterfront buildings were counting houses, taverns and homes of ship captains.
If it weren't for the efforts an activist couple, Norma ans Peter Stanford, the Schermerhorn Row would have fallen prey to (what some call) progress. In the 1960's much of Lower Manhattan was experiencing a rebirth; skyscrapers were replacing much of the existing buildings; projects like The World Trade Center were under way. It was saved by the Stanfords who rallied other people who were passionate about preserving this last standing block of New York City maritime history; they got so many people involved that it became unthinkable to knock down the Seaport.
Super Storm Sandy Hit The Seaport Area Hard
Sandy's storm surge was recorded at over 13 feet in some areas, although it was classified as a Tropical Storm it's wind and storm surge was equal to a Category 3 hurricane; it's going to take a long time for that area to get back on it's feet. I hope that you will go to their website and donate some money if you can or volunteer your time if you live in the area.
Read a New York Times story on South Street Seaports recovery efforts here. If you have some extra money and you can afford a donation, this is a worthy cause. I hope these guys get the help they need, this is my favorite part of the city and the South Street Seaport Museum (and The Museum of the City of New York) are a NYC treasure. This city has so much history and there are few places that are left to tell the story; most have been lost to modernity, NYC is one of the few cities that tends to throw it's history under the bus.
Heavy Buoys Moved by Sandy
Circleline Booth Flooded
Flooded Museum Lobby
Pier 16 Flooding
Gift Shop Area Totally Trashed
Bring Back Sweets Hotel and Restaurant
Rebuild It Bigger and Better
The remains of some of Sweet's Hotel still can be found at 4 Fulton Street (the last building belonging to the Museum on that block); although the Restaurant and Hotel actually occupied 2, 4 & 6 Fulton Street in the 1860's, and was in operation up until World War 1. The remains of the hotel are located at 4 Fulton Street just the way it when it went out of business (albeit run down, you can still get an idea of what it was like). So perhaps the museum can bring back that part of the Seaport as well.
Bowne & Co. Stationers - The Print Shop Is Open
Bowne & Co. Print Shop
photo Â© by Judy Ferony
... the South Street Seaport Museum is still closed as of November 26th, 2012 :-(