South Street Seaport Museum

South Street Seaport Museum A cultural institution dedicated to telling the story of rise of New York as a port city and its critical role in the development of the United States.
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I like to imagine Fulton and South Streets in 1812 when Peter Schermerhorn completed the 12 buildings that comprise Schermerhorn Row, when people came from all over New York to marvel at this row of Federal-style warehouses on the East River. In those days the piers were crowded with ships from all over the world discharging their cargoes of coffee, tea, cotton, molasses, and countless other trade goods upon the piers of South Street. The trade represented by these ships and the counting-houses, hotels, and warehouses of the South Street Seaport is the very trade that built the growing New York City and through it the United States of America. In the late 1960s, visionary preservationists set aside a collection of entire city blocks in the South Street Seaport district as an area worthy of care and attention. These blocks of early- to mid- nineteenth century buildings, coupled with a series of piers crowded with historic ships would tell the vital story of the formation and growth of New York, a city built on—and because of—its deep natural harbor and its connection through the Erie Canal to the inner states and territories of the new nation. Today, more than two hundred years after Schermerhorn Row was completed, New York is a very different place. The Row is no longer the largest building in the city; it is dwarfed in fact by the surrounding financial district. The piers are no longer crowded with ships, but that same deep-water harbor is seeing a renaissance of education, of commercial and ferry service, of oyster aquaculture, and of attention from New Yorkers. Indeed, now more than ever the story of the formation of New York—the story of a city built on its waterways—is critical to our city. This is not a dry history, but a living tale of growth, of sacrifice, and of opportunity. The story and its reverberations play out in the education programs aboard our schooners PIONEER and LETTIE G. HOWARD. They are carried in the hearts of the scores of volunteers who work regularly and without pay to preserve our tug W.O. DECKER and the mighty square-riggers PEKING and WAVERTREE. They burn brightly in the lamps of the lightship AMBROSE. Although Hurricane Sandy is behind us, the challenges we face are still daunting. However the very same spirit that led Schermerhorn and others to build, to grow, and to prosper in early New York will once again carry the day. For here we have a Museum, not of artifacts and buildings and ships, though we have those. Not of interpretive signs, galleries, and stories, though those abound as well. Here we have a museum of the people. A museum that thrives as the beating heart of the historic South Street Seaport district. Welcome to South Street Seaport Museum. Our dedicated staff and volunteers (who are educators, sailors, preservationists, and some of the finest humans on the planet) are ready to welcome you aboard our ships and into our galleries and shops. We work together toward the next successful chapter of our “little museum that could.” Please join us for a visit, join as a member, and join the ranks of the proud volunteers who take a firsthand role in the preservation of old New York and the building of new New York. I look forward to seeing you soon at South Street. Captain Jonathan Boulware Executive Director

Operating as usual

Timed tickets are going fast! Have you reserved your spot for our free Wavertree Open Days this weekend, 9/5 and 9/6? Pr...
09/02/2020

Timed tickets are going fast! Have you reserved your spot for our free Wavertree Open Days this weekend, 9/5 and 9/6?

President and CEO, Capt. Jonathan Boulware says, “The Seaport Museum is thrilled to welcome back visitors to our historic ship Wavertree on select days in September. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept New Yorkers at home for the last five months, and now we are pleased to safely open the outdoor spaces of our flagship at no cost to our community, which has been so steadfast in supporting our work during this time. With new protocols in place to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff, we look forward to welcoming you on board in the coming weeks.”

Check out the visit experience details, our health and safety guidelines, and book your tickets today! seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree

#WavertreeShip #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #nycmuseums #southstreetseaport #lowerManhattan #tallship #historicship #maritimehistory #nyhistory #WhereNewYorkBegins

It’s time for our September Object of the Month! This month’s spotlight is on this well-worn plough plane— just one of t...
09/01/2020

It’s time for our September Object of the Month! This month’s spotlight is on this well-worn plough plane— just one of the hundreds of hand tools held in the Seaport Museum's collections. But, what is a plough plane and why would it be a valuable addition to the collection?

A plough plane, also known as a grooving plane, is a hand tool that is used to cut a straight groove into a piece of wood. As the term “hand tool” suggests, this woodworkers’ tool was powered by hand without a motor or electricity. When pushed forward, a sharp blade at the base of the plane gouges the surface of the wood, resembling a farmers’ plough cutting rows into the soil. Like puzzle pieces, the grooves cut by plough planes can interlock with “tongues” cut out of adjoining wood pieces, forming a tight seam between panels for walls, flooring and other purposes.

For thousands of years, hand tools were critical to the construction of wooden ships. Even after the development of metal-hulled ships, wood finishings were still required in the vessels’ cabins. Woodworking tools like this plough plane are still used for projects on the Museum’s historic fleet today.

If you want to learn more about shipwright tools in the Seaport Museum’s collections, as well as those used on our working waterfront, stay tuned! Our Fleet Captain, Malcolm Martin, is working with our Collections and Curatorial team to prepare and share an online program soon.

#SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome #maritimeheritage #shipwrighttool #vintagetools

This is a busy month for us, but we can’t even imagine what it would have been like back in 1970! On this day in 1970, t...
08/30/2020

This is a busy month for us, but we can’t even imagine what it would have been like back in 1970! On this day in 1970, the Seaport Museum welcomed our 1885 schooner Pioneer. She was the third vessel addition of the year, after the steam-tug Mathilda, and just a few weeks after the arrival of our flagship Wavertree.

Pioneer is representative of the type of small coastal cargo vessels that were the delivery trucks of their era, carrying various cargoes between coastal communities: lumber and stone from the islands of Maine, brick on the Hudson River, and oyster shell on the Chesapeake Bay. She was the first of only two cargo sloops built of iron in this country and is the only active iron-hulled American merchant sailing vessel still in existence.

Relaunched in 1968 after an extensive refit, she was donated to the museum in 1970. Since her first day at the Museum, Pioneer’s mission has been “to introduce city kids to the wide horizon of the sea, and to carry the Seaport Museum story to each port at which she called.” --South Street Reporter, Fall 1971.

After 50 years of service to the Museum, Pioneer is currently in shipyard, undergoing some maintenance and restoration, like all historic vessels require from time to time. We are looking forward to continuing and expanding education and sailing programs next year as we celebrate her half-century anniversary at the Museum and her 135 year career!

What are your best memories of her first 50 years at South Street?

#schoonerPIONEER #sailingship #historicship #schooner #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #southstreetseaport #sailing #NewYorkHarbor #newyorkcity #WhereNewYorkBegins

UPDATE: Tomorrow’s Membership and Volunteer Preview Day has been rescheduled to Sunday, August 30 due to heavy rain!  We...
08/28/2020

UPDATE: Tomorrow’s Membership and Volunteer Preview Day has been rescheduled to Sunday, August 30 due to heavy rain! We look forward to welcoming our Members and Volunteers back onboard this weekend.

Whether you plan to visit our tall ship Wavertree as a member on Sunday, or later in September, please note that we’ve made some changes during our time away. The visit to Wavertree will be self-guided, along a set route, and will include access to just the outdoor areas of the vessel, including main deck and quarter deck. Additionally, the Museum will allow no more than 35 guests on board the ship at any time to encourage social distancing from different households.

Your health and safety are our top priorities, and we have implemented health and safety procedures following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State, and New York City. To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit for all, we strongly encourage you to read through our new guidelines before you head down to Pier 16: seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree

#WavertreeShip #historicship #maritimeheritage #nyhistory #newyorkcity #southstreetseaport #lowermanhattan #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins

This view of South Street shows the still extant Harriet Onderdonk Building, later known as Meyer’s Hotel located on the...
08/27/2020

This view of South Street shows the still extant Harriet Onderdonk Building, later known as Meyer’s Hotel located on the corner of Peck Slip and South Street. Built in 1873, this double building was supposed to be a combination of stores and lofts but was converted into a hotel by Henry L. Meyer, when he purchased it from Mrs. Onderdonk, ten years later, in 1883. The building was designed by architect John B. Snook, who among his many notable projects designed the original Grand Central Depot on 42nd Street in 1871 (the building that the present Grand Central Terminal replaced in 1913), as well as many buildings in the Soho Cast-Iron District.

Frequented by Thomas Edison, there is an argument that Meyer’s was the first hotel and bar to have electric lighting. The original ConEd power station was located a few blocks away on Pearl Street. Famous guests reputed to have stayed at Meyer’s Hotel include Annie Oakley and “Buffalo Bill” Cody, as well as outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Teddy Roosevelt was known to drop in at the bar on occasion for a pint while serving as the head of the New York City Police Department, supposedly looking for officers who indulged themselves while on duty.

The hotel operated until the early 1980s, when it was possibly one of the last single-occupancy hotels left in the seaport district.

Image: [South Street and Meyer’s Hotel] 20th century. South Street Seaport Museum Archives.

#ThrowbackThursday #TBT #fromthearchives #nyhistory #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #southstreetseaport #historicdistrict #WhereNewYorkBegins #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome

Happy #NationalDogDay! Pets, and specifically dogs, have been going to sea, accompanying seafaring men and women, since ...
08/26/2020

Happy #NationalDogDay! Pets, and specifically dogs, have been going to sea, accompanying seafaring men and women, since the beginning of time. Domesticated animals have functioned as mascots, messengers, companions, pest controllers, hunters, rescuers, and even working animals on exploration vessels!

In 2019, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, UK, hosted a two-day international conference on maritime pets to “shed fresh light” on traditional maritime narratives which regarded animals “too often absent, or marginalized in passing references.”

So for today’s #DogDay we looked into our photo archives and came across many photographs, especially for the traditional sailing ship era, where dogs were portrayed in “official” crew photos. Below you can see a short selection of them. Enjoy!

#fromthearchives #sailingships #dogs #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

We’re kicking off our Wavertree Open Days with Member and Volunteer Preview Day this Saturday, August 29th!We’re thrille...
08/25/2020

We’re kicking off our Wavertree Open Days with Member and Volunteer Preview Day this Saturday, August 29th!

We’re thrilled to welcome back to Pier 16 our active Seaport Museum Members and Volunteers who will be among the first to visit Wavertree again and to check out our new outdoor exhibition right in front of it.

Memberships start at $50 and help support Museum’s exhibitions, preserve the ships and the collections, grow public programs, and serve over 12,000 students annually through education initiatives. Availability of some benefits is subject to temporary COVID-19 restrictions, but Member support will truly go a long way to ensuring that the Museum weathers this storm. Become a Member, renew for another year, or buy a membership for a friend at seaportmuseum.org/membership and join us on Saturday!

#WavertreeShip #historicship #maritimeheritage #nyhistory #newyorkcity #southstreetseaport #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins

Happy Monday! As we are preparing to open our tall ship Wavertree, starting with this coming Saturday’s Member and Volun...
08/24/2020

Happy Monday! As we are preparing to open our tall ship Wavertree, starting with this coming Saturday’s Member and Volunteer Preview Day, we feel like we’d like to have many more hands, like this busy and happy octopus! How’s your week shaping up?

Image: RMS Mauretania Schedule Booklet, August 24, 1955. Gift of Richard Wickenden. 1996.013.0007

#oceanliner #ephemera #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum
#MondayMotivation #MuseumMomentOfZen

Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, a day when UNESCO reminds us to...
08/23/2020

Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, a day when UNESCO reminds us to never forget the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade. August 23rd was chosen in honor of the 1791 uprising of enslaved people in Saint-Domingue that would lead to the Haitian Revolution.

This watercolor is part of a collection of similar sketches drawn by Captain William Buck (ca. 1826-after 1873), an officer of the British Royal Navy assigned to the anti-slavery patrol along the West African coast from 1846 to 1860. Both Great Britain and the United States outlawed the transatlantic slave trade in 1807, but anti-slavery patrols were undermined by goverments unwilling to dedicate resources to blockade thousands of miles of coast. The increased difficulty of transporting enslaved people also meant increased profits for slavers and smugglers willing to take the risk.

This drawing in our collection shows a lower deck of the Brazilian slave ship Saphira (sometimes written as Sapphira). When Buck’s ship Grappler captured Saphira at the mouth of the Congo River in July 1848, there were no enslaved people on board. However, the purpose of the vessel could be judged by the bags of cheap farina meant as provisions for the intended captives. Buck’s diagram and accompanying key also illustrate how the enslaved people would have been separated by sex when inhumanely packed into the hold for their horrifying journey.

Image: William Cumming Buck, British (ca. 1826-after 1873) “Deck plan of the Brazilian slave brig Saphira” 1848. Gift of Jakob and Patricia Isbrandtsen, South Street Seaport Museum, 1981.042.0014

#RememberSlavery #HumanRights #worldhistory #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome

We're happy to announce Wavertree will welcome back visitors for FREE on select days in September, starting from the ope...
08/22/2020

We're happy to announce Wavertree will welcome back visitors for FREE on select days in September, starting from the opening weekend of September 5 and 6, and with a preview day for Seaport Museum’s Members and Volunteers on Saturday, August 29! 🎉

Advanced registration starts today. To reserve your timed entry tickets and learn more about what to expect during your visit, go on our website: seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree.

Our new hours: opening weekend September 5 and 6, and Saturdays September 12, 19, and 26, 11am-5pm.

Seaport Museum’s Members and Volunteers Day: Saturday, August 29 11am-5pm.

Image by Richard Bowditch

#WavertreeShip #tallship #historicship #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #southstreetseaport #lowerManhattan #nycmuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins

The South Street Seaport Museum recently acquired a series of aerial photographs by Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc. that ...
08/20/2020

The South Street Seaport Museum recently acquired a series of aerial photographs by Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc. that celebrate the greatness of the New York natural harbor and the development of the Port of New York as a primary commercial and passenger gate to America.

In our latest blog post, our Director of Collections explores the immense technological advancements that aerial photography has brought to the world, as well as the history of Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc. and its founder, through a selection of their outstanding photographs.

https://southstreetseaportmuseum.org/recent-acquisition-aerial-photographs-from-fairchild-aerial-surveys-inc/

Image: “RMS Queen Mary” December 22, 1948. Gift from an anonymous donor, South Street Seaport Museum 2018.008.0020

#photography #aerialphotography #newyorkcity #RMSQueenMary #oceanliners #NewYorkHarbor #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins #MuseumFromHome

This postcard shows the wreck of the French Liner SS La Champagne off Saint-Nazaire, France, where she was grounded on M...
08/19/2020

This postcard shows the wreck of the French Liner SS La Champagne off Saint-Nazaire, France, where she was grounded on May 28, 1915. Because France had entered World War I only eight months earlier, in August of 1914, there was a question of whether SS La Champagne may have been torpedoed by the German navy, but the French Line was quick to announce the grounding was simply an accident.

The “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” reported that “there is no need of anxiety as to the safety of the vessel” and that the 900 passengers aboard landed at Saint-Nazaire safely. However, the ship itself was declared a total loss.

This postcard is postmarked on this day in 1915, just a few months after the accident, and it includes a personal message that does not mention running aground or the dramatic image in front. Postcards with similar wreck and disaster images became really popular printed pieces of ephemera in the early 20th century, and many people used them without acknowledging the tragic moment depicted.

#postcard #ephemera #shipwreck #oceanliner #FrenchLine #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum
#MuseumFromHome

Feeling a bit stuck in a bubble? Today’s #MuseumMomentofZen is this cool-toned, 1937 dinner menu from ocean liner RMS Be...
08/17/2020

Feeling a bit stuck in a bubble? Today’s #MuseumMomentofZen is this cool-toned, 1937 dinner menu from ocean liner RMS Berengaria.

RMS Berengaria would retire one year later, after she caught fire in New York Harbor on March 3, 1938. She was originally built and launched in 1913 for rival German company Hamburg American Line as SS Imperator, and at the time, she was the largest passenger ship in the world.

Cunard took possession of her in 1919 and made her the company flagship, alongside RMS Mauretania and RMS Aquitania, after the ship was seized during World War I. Sailing through the 1920's and 1930's, RMS Berengaria was the first ship of the era to be replaced by RMS Queen Mary.

Image: “RMS Berengaria Dinner Menu,” June 23, 1937. The Robert L. Mink Collection, South Street Seaport Museum 2003.039.0205

#oceanliner #ephemera #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #MondayBlues

Today is #WorldCalligraphyDay, a day dedicated to celebrating the history of calligraphy and its impact on many cultures...
08/14/2020

Today is #WorldCalligraphyDay, a day dedicated to celebrating the history of calligraphy and its impact on many cultures all over the world. Calligraphy is the art of beautiful handwriting. It can be traced back to ancient civilization, and in the Middle East and East Asia it is considered a major art, equal to painting or sculpture, while in Western culture it has tended to be associated more with “just” elaborate handwriting.

Our collection and archives holdings include many beautifully handwritten inscriptions and notes, but it is becoming increasingly hard to transcribe calligraphy. The skill of handwriting is no longer taught at schools, and the habit of calligraphy is slowly vanishing in this part of the world.

On today's #CalligraphyDay we’d like to show you a few beautiful examples from our collections and to encourage you to try out calligraphy and learn about this art form.

#calligraphy #handwriting #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #CultureFromHome

This year is the 50th anniversary of our 1885 flagship Wavertree arriving at the Seaport Museum! Our Collections and Cur...
08/13/2020

This year is the 50th anniversary of our 1885 flagship Wavertree arriving at the Seaport Museum! Our Collections and Curatorial Assistant has penned a blog post to celebrate Wavertree's history and to highlight her favorite Wavertree artifacts—four photographs that show the damage from her 1910 dismasting off Cape Horn.

Read the story of one of the most perilous sailing routes in the world, discover these artifacts, and see what recent documentation revealed! With this blog post, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Wavertree’s arrival at the Seaport Museum while sending our deepest appreciation to the amazing people who have cared for the ship and worked to preserve, interpret and share her history over the past 50 years.

https://southstreetseaportmuseum.org/wavertree-dismasted/

Image: “Chili” from Arbuckles' Illustrated Atlas of Fifty Principal Nations of The World. Copyright, 1889, by Arbuckle Bros. N.Y. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

#WavertreeShip #CapeHorn #traditionalsailingship #tallship #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegin

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