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

#OnThisDay in 1818 the sailing packet James Monroe departed from Peck Slip on schedule. This fact may not sound revoluti...
01/05/2020

#OnThisDay in 1818 the sailing packet James Monroe departed from Peck Slip on schedule. This fact may not sound revolutionary, but many historians mark this event as the start of New York City’s rise as a world port when the first scheduled “liner” service was established for passengers and cargo. Prior to this, ships would leave at the discretion of the captain or ship owner. Passengers and cargo could be sitting at the docks for weeks as captains filled their hulls so their voyages would be as profitable as possible.

The departure of the James Monroe for the Black Ball line on schedule, as advertised, was a calculated risk, but passengers and businesses embraced the predictability of scheduled departures. The success of this great experiment led to the flourishing sailing packet ship trade, and later the development of steam powered liner, concentrated in the Port of New York.

This barometer is from the vessel that started it all. Its plaque bears the inscription: “Presented by John Stuart, Esq. of the North West Company, Pafsenger [sic] of the A.P.S. James Monroe of New York as a testimony of respect to his esteemed friend captain James Watkinson, 1818.”

#OnThisDay in 1912 this postcard featuring a dramatic view of ocean liner SS La Provence in dry dock was posted. Images ...
01/04/2020

#OnThisDay in 1912 this postcard featuring a dramatic view of ocean liner SS La Provence in dry dock was posted. Images of ships in dry dock were, and are, fascinating because they show what is usually hidden beneath the water’s surface.

SS La Provence was one of the French Line’s pre-World War I “express steamers”. Launched in 1905, she served the New York City-Le Havre route until the outbreak of World War I. The May 1905 issue of “Marine Engineering” featured the new liner and noted where the ship was designed to meet the limitations of the relatively shallow Le Havre port. La Provence was kept to shallow draft of 25 feet— shorter than contemporary liners like Cunard’s RMS Carmania with its draft of 32 feet.

To learn more about the great ocean liners, and how they were built to serve both trans-atlantic high society and less-wealthy immigrants, visit our exhibit “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners, 1900–1914” at our galleries at 12 Fulton Street, open Wednesdays-Sundays, 11am-5pm.

Image: “SS La Provence in dry dock” January 4, 1912. Paper, ink. Stanley Lehrer Ocean Liner Collection. South Street Seaport Museum Foundation, 2006.029.3750

#SSSMcollection #MillionsExhibition #CunardLine #oceanliners #Lusitania #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

This 1870s-1880s salt-glazed stoneware jug is is our January Object of the Month! Not only does this artifact come from ...
01/02/2020

This 1870s-1880s salt-glazed stoneware jug is is our January Object of the Month! Not only does this artifact come from a South Street business, it’s also one of our recent acquisitions.

This jug is from a longstanding 19th-century grocer at 184 South Street. James L. Davis is first listed at this address in an 1849-1850 city directory, and he disappears from the records around 1881. South Street was home to many grocers since, between the bustling waterfront and the presence of wholesale markets, there was a constant flow of both customers and goods.

Though we don’t know exactly what was stored in this jug, we do know that salt glaze, achieved by firing at extremely high temperatures, is resistant to acid. Salt-glazed stoneware was widely used for acidic foods like vinegar, pickles, and cider.

See this example of lower Manhattan history at our gallery at 12 Fulton Street throughout the month, Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm.

Image: Unknown Maker. “Salt-glazed stoneware jug” 1870s-1880s. Stoneware, cobalt. Gift of Steve P. Striebel, South Street Seaport Museum 2019.005

#foodhistory #nyhistory #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #southstreetseaport

#HappyNewYear from the South Street Seaport Museum! May your 2020 be bright and enchanting.
01/01/2020

#HappyNewYear from the South Street Seaport Museum! May your 2020 be bright and enchanting.

What better time to host a dinner party than New Year's Eve? The First-class table in this photograph is certainly enjoy...
12/31/2019

What better time to host a dinner party than New Year's Eve? The First-class table in this photograph is certainly enjoying their gala dinner aboard Cunard Line’s RMS Berengaria—complete with silly hats and streamers. However you choose to celebrate we hope you also have a wonderful, “first-class” night!

Image: “First Class Dining Room of RMS Berengaria” ca. 1920-1938. Vintage silver print. Stanley Lehrer Ocean Liner Collection, South Street Seaport Museum Foundation Collection, 2006.029.4766

#NewYearsEve #HappyNewYear #champagne #oceanliners #Cunard #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

If you choose to glide through the holiday season on ice, taking a spin anywhere from Central Park, to Coney Island, or ...
12/28/2019

If you choose to glide through the holiday season on ice, taking a spin anywhere from Central Park, to Coney Island, or the seaport district ice rinks, you’re sliding into a New York winter tradition!

New York City’s ice skating history begins at a time when skaters used ponds and lakes in parks for recreation. The Lake in Central Park, labeled on Olmsted and Vaux's original Greensward plan as a "skating pond,' was the most notable case of this use, a few decades before Central Park was completed in the 1870s. The section of the park was opened to ice skaters and quickly became a top attraction; and to make sure The Lake was the perfect site to skate, it was specially drained to the optimal level for freezing every year!

Image: John H. Bufford (American printmaker, 1810-1870), Imperial Club Skates Trade Card, mid-19th century, paper and ink. South Street Seaport Museum Trade Card Collection, 1999.005.0007

#iceskating #skates #nyhistory #tradecard #ephemeralart #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show Experience is entering it's final 4 days of performances. Don't miss your last chance t...
12/26/2019

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show Experience is entering it's final 4 days of performances. Don't miss your last chance to see this interactive storytime. Now through December 29th. http://bit.ly/VHC_SSM

Photo - Russ Rowland

#ThrowbackThursday to a snowy December day in 1948 when the Cunard-White Star liner RMS Queen Mary docked at Pier 90 at ...
12/26/2019

#ThrowbackThursday to a snowy December day in 1948 when the Cunard-White Star liner RMS Queen Mary docked at Pier 90 at the end of another voyage from Southampton. Cunard’s other royal liner, RMS Queen Elizabeth, is already docked on the pier’s north side, and both liners were once a common sight at the West Side piers.

Queen Mary is one of the most famous and beloved transatlantic passenger ships. Operating from 1936 until 1967, the liner sailed through the Great Depression, World War II, the heyday of transatlantic travel in the late 1940s and 1950s, and the eventual decline of ocean liners in the 1960s. The vessel was relocated to Long Beach, California, in 1967, and has become a world-renowned Southern California landmark.

Image: Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc., “SS Queen Mary” December 22, 1948. Photograph. Gift from an anonymous donor. South Street Seaport Museum 2018.008.0019

#SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #nyhistory #QueenMary #FairchildAerialSurveys #SSSMCollection

#MerryChristmas from the South Street Seaport Museum! If you are opening presents this morning maybe you’ve received a h...
12/25/2019

#MerryChristmas from the South Street Seaport Museum! If you are opening presents this morning maybe you’ve received a high-tech toy like this ca. 1900 magic lantern.

Magic lanterns were the earliest form of slide projectors and a popular source of entertainment and education. When in use, a candle or paraffin burner is placed in the tray on the base to provide light and increase magnification. Originally the projector would have included miniature glass slides with painted images.

#SSSMcollection #historictoys #magiclantern #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

It's the night before Christmas and we hope you’ll take a stroll down to South Street to admire our #historicships all l...
12/24/2019

It's the night before Christmas and we hope you’ll take a stroll down to South Street to admire our #historicships all lit up for the holidays! #HappyChristmasEve ✨

#Hanukkah begins today at sunset, and we hope to see you down at South Street during the holidays.
12/22/2019

#Hanukkah begins today at sunset, and we hope to see you down at South Street during the holidays.

Looking for a last minute gift this holiday season? Stop by the Seaport Museum’s shop at 12 Fulton Street, and/or at our...
12/21/2019

Looking for a last minute gift this holiday season? Stop by the Seaport Museum’s shop at 12 Fulton Street, and/or at our Bowne & Co. print shops at 207-211 Water Street and check out our selection of vintage gifts, notebooks, toys, books, and holiday cards!

Our Visitor Experience Associates suggested to check out “The Cat Men of Gotham” by Peegy Gavan, “Manhattan Mapping the Story of an Island” by Jennifer Thermes, Christmas tree decorations, various notebooks and recycled tin toys. These items will make a perfect last-minute gift for the maritime and history-lovers in your life!

Bowne & Co. will be open on December 24, 11am-3pm, and closed on December 25.

The Seaport Museum’s galleries at 12 Fulton Street and The Ships at South Street Seaport Museum will be closed on December 24 and 25.

#holidayseason #holidayshopping #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #southstreetseaport #lowermanhattan

Our beloved 1885 schooner Pioneer has been headed up the Hudson to Scarano Boat Building in Albany, NY over the past few...
12/20/2019

Our beloved 1885 schooner Pioneer has been headed up the Hudson to Scarano Boat Building in Albany, NY over the past few days! The trip started Tuesday, December 17th, at 0700 from South Street alongside a scow pushed by tug Frances. She arrived to Albany roughly 24 hours later on Wednesday, December 18th.

Building on the excellent baseline of reconstruction done by Gladding-Hearn in the late 1960s, Pioneer will undergo further shipyard work this winter. She'll be thoroughly sandblasted, have repairs to her hull framing and shell plating, her masts will be removed and inspected, and perhaps most excitingly, she'll get a new engine! A cleaner, more reliable "tier-3" diesel engine, supplied by John Deere, will power Pioneer for the next decade and more.

Stay tuned for more updates on our social media accounts, and The Ships at South Street Seaport Museum, as the work progresses!

#schoonerPioneer #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #schooner #HudsonValley

There is still time to donate to the South Street Seaport Museum’s Year-End Appeal! 2019 was a powerful stride forward f...
12/19/2019

There is still time to donate to the South Street Seaport Museum’s Year-End Appeal!

2019 was a powerful stride forward for the Museum, and the future of this vital New York institution is bright. To capitalize on this momentum, we are planning an ambitious 2020 that will include expanded access to our long-closed Schermerhorn Row galleries and greater activation of collections and the fleet of historic ships. We will continue to provide a robust schedule of public programs with regular tours of the Museum’s historic buildings and ships, along with further growth in our education and volunteer programming.

Your support will be vital to making all of this happen in the coming year. As we move into the holiday season, I ask that you please consider making a contribution to our Year-End Appeal. Click here to learn more: http://bit.ly/SSSMYES19

#SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins

#ThrowbackThursday to 1857 when The Illustrated London News ran this engraving of SS Adriatic, the newest trans-Atlantic...
12/19/2019

#ThrowbackThursday to 1857 when The Illustrated London News ran this engraving of SS Adriatic, the newest trans-Atlantic passenger steamship run by South Street’s Edward Knight Collins. The Collins Line, founded in 1848 in what would become the South Street Seaport Historic District, revolutionized the passenger trade—despite barely lasting a decade.

Prior to the Collins Line, steamship travel was uncomfortable and voyages averaged two weeks. Collins set out to change that, as well as to end the British dominance of steamship travel. The Collins Line’s passenger ships set a new standard for first-class travel with their opulent interiors, lavish meals, and record breaking crossings of the Atlantic. Even though the line ultimately failed after disastrous wrecks, other steamship companies imitated and improved on the Collins Line’s combination of luxury and speed. Within fifty years competition between steamship companies created ships that rivaled the best European hotels and could cross the Atlantic in under five days.

Edward Knight Collins is not the only innovator who got a start on South Street. In its heyday South Street attracted all sorts of individuals and companies. Most just came to do business, but a few ended up changing how business was done. Visit us at 12 Fulton Street to learn about other famous entrepreneurs of the South Street Seaport!

https://southstreetseaportmuseum.org/events/street-of-ships-the-port-and-its-people/

#nyhistory #OTD #TodayinHistory #TBT #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

#OnThisDay in 1835 the Great Fire broke out on Merchant Street in Lower Manhattan destroying much of the Financial Distr...
12/16/2019

#OnThisDay in 1835 the Great Fire broke out on Merchant Street in Lower Manhattan destroying much of the Financial District. This print depicts firefighters battling the blaze at the recently erected Merchant’s Exchange which had been considered fireproof.

One eyewitness described the event vividly: “From Maiden Lane to Coenties Slip and from William Street to the East River, the whole immense area, embracing some thirteen acres, all in a raging, uncontrollable blaze! To what can we compare it? An ocean of fire, as it were, with roaring, rolling, burning waves, surging onward and upward, and spreading certain universal destruction, tottering walls and falling chimneys, with black smoke, hissing, crashing sounds on every side…Many a merchant living in the upper section of the city went quietly to bed that night, and strange as it may seem, when he came down town the next morning literally could not find his store nor enough of his stock remaining to cover his hand—every yard, ell, pound gone!”

Image: Nicolino Calyo (Italian, 1799-1884), painter. William Jamer Bennett (British, 1787-1844), engraver. Lewis Peter Clover (b. 1790), publisher. “View of the Great Fire in New-York, Dec. 16th and 17th 1835”, 1836. Paper. Peter A. and Jack R. Aron Collection, South Street Seaport Museum, 1991.070.0185

#todayinhistory #nyhistory #lowermanhattan #newyorkcity #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

#ThrowbackThursday to a mid-19th century chaotic street scene at Broadway and Fulton St. During this shopping season we ...
12/12/2019

#ThrowbackThursday to a mid-19th century chaotic street scene at Broadway and Fulton St. During this shopping season we are reminded that our lives are not so different from past generations.

This newspaper clipping depicts a proposed footbridge to cross the busy avenue safely. The image shows people casually crossing above the hurried street scene while others still brave running directly across with horses, carriages, and carts running through the streets.

In 1852, businessman and hatter John Nicholas Genin declared he would finance the bridge if it would be placed directly in front of his store. With Broadway as a two-way street, no traffic lights, and a mix of automobiles and animals in the street, the footbridge was a welcomed idea by many New Yorkers. The bridge did not open until 1866 and was named after Charles Loew, a local politician. While Genin’s business soared a rival hatter, Charles Knox, was unhappy with the bridge. He and other Broadway shop owners successfully sued the City claiming the bridge cost them customers and sales. The Loew bridge was torn down just a year after its opening.

Image: Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, p.416 “Genin's New and Novel Bridge, Extending Across Broadway, New York” December 5, 1852. Paper, ink. Seamen's Bank for Savings Collection, South Street Seaport Museum 1991.078.0054

#nyhistory #Broadway #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

#OnThisDay in 1908 this letter was posted from Cunard liner RMS Lusitania. Though Lusitania is now remembered for her si...
12/10/2019

#OnThisDay in 1908 this letter was posted from Cunard liner RMS Lusitania. Though Lusitania is now remembered for her sinking during World War I, before her demise she was noteworthy for her size, speed, and luxurious accommodations in First Class.

This letter from First-Class passenger Mrs. John B. Maddock to fellow socialite Mrs. Luther Albert Swope describes some aspects of Mrs. Maddock’s voyage from New York City:

“My dear Beckie-
Perhaps you saw by the papers that we did not leave the dock in New York until Thursday noon, on account of the fog. Even then we went very slowly down the bay - but we did not mind the delay as we were so very comfortable. This is Monday afternoon and tomorrow we should reach Queenstown - and I send this live to say that we have had a fine voyage - no [illegible] and warm - and being so high we have had the port holes open - It was so good of you to come down to the steamer - I appreciated it greatly. The little table in the Dining Saloon has been most comfortable and enjoyable - and we have not been obliged to meet people…Affectionately, Maurie”

To learn more about First-Class travel aboard liner like Lusitania, and how it compared to travel in Third Class aboard the same, visit our exhibit “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners, 1900–1914” at our galleries at 12 Fulton Street, open Wednesdays-Sundays, 11am-5pm.

Image: [Letter from Mrs. J.B. Maddock to Mrs. L.A. Swope about RMS Lusitania] December 10, 1908. Paper, ink. Stanley Lehrer Ocean Liner Collection. South Street Seaport Museum Foundation, 2006.029.0478A-B

#SSSMcollection #MillionsExhibition #CunardLine #oceanliners #Lusitania #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

#ThrowbackThursday to another winter day in #Manhattan! This ca. 1890-1915 photo shows Broad Street after a snowfall whe...
12/05/2019

#ThrowbackThursday to another winter day in #Manhattan! This ca. 1890-1915 photo shows Broad Street after a snowfall when there is still a few inches of slush. The photographer captures a man braving the wet snow to cross the street, which has several horse drawn carts as the only vehicles in sight.

Snow removal from New York City streets had always been a concern, but with ever-increasing traffic (and the introduction of automobiles) in the early 20th century, keeping the streets open took on a new importance. New York was an early adopter of modern methods of snow clearing since, as the busiest port and financial capital of the US, no one could afford to have business interrupted by snow.

Image: Thomas W. Kennedy (American, active 1890-ca. 1915), [Broad Street] ca. 1890 - 1915. Silver gelatine dry plate negative. Thomas W. Kennedy Collection, 2016.003.0063

#TBT #SSSMcollection #photography #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

Address

12 Fulton St
New York, NY
10038

Opening Hours

Wednesday 11:00 - 17:00
Thursday 11:00 - 17:00
Friday 11:00 - 17:00
Saturday 11:00 - 17:00
Sunday 11:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(212) 748-8600

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