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

Happy #NationalArtDay! Today we celebrate the birthday of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, and art as a creative human expr...
10/25/2020

Happy #NationalArtDay! Today we celebrate the birthday of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, and art as a creative human expression of beauty, history, revolutions, and rebellions.

This day honors all forms of art — paintings, sculpture, photography, architecture, music, and more, and through this celebration we show our respect for the passion and creativity in all artists, acknowledging that there is no history or culture without art.

Image: James Edward Buttersworth (American, 1817-1894), “Ship in Storm” ca. 1855. Oil on canvas. Peter A. and Jack R. Aron Collection, South Street Seaport Museum 1991.068.0094

#IntlArtistsDay #JamesEdwardButtersworth #painting #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport

One of the most fascinating things about our printing history collection—which includes both the equipment and the print...
10/22/2020

One of the most fascinating things about our printing history collection—which includes both the equipment and the printed items themselves—is that little of it was ever intended to end up in a museum. Our printing presses and moveable type are industrial objects, designed to withstand a lifetime of commercial use. And the printed items in our collection are not fine art, but ephemera: pieces that were meant to be used for a short time and then discarded.

Many historical broadsides from our collection advertise trips from or to New York with specific locations and times, so a broadside would only have been useful for as long as that information remained accurate, and then it would have been thrown away. But in the same way we might hold on to a ticket from a memorable concert or neglect to recycle a stack of takeout menus, someone saved this broadside, and another record of everyday life in 19th-century New York is preserved.

Printing broadsides is one of our printers favorite activities at Bowne & Co. Over the last few weekends, they printed in view of the public for the first time since March (now in social-distance mode!) a series tied to the join the Rise Up, Show Up, Unite! Project. Learn more about it in our latest blog post: seaportmuseum.org/modern-broadside-printing-at-bowne-co/

#printinghistory #broadside #poster #RiseUpShowUpUnite #printers #letterpress #southstreetseaport #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport

#OnThisDay in 1826 the New York Theater opened in the Bowery neighborhood. Initially a rural section of the city home to...
10/22/2020

#OnThisDay in 1826 the New York Theater opened in the Bowery neighborhood. Initially a rural section of the city home to cattle yards and farms, the Bowery held a rough reputation due to its bars and gambling. The opening of the New York Theater came about at the same time as a transformation in the area: new shops, residential buildings, and entertainment venues popping up along the newly paved streets. The early 19th Century quickly saw the Bowery neighborhood become one of New York City’s greatest entertainment districts.

At its opening, the New York Theater was the largest playhouse in the United States with approximately 3,000 seats. The theater initially catered to the city’s elite, showcasing only operas, ballets, and European plays. It was a locale for high drama and socialization amongst the wealthiest of New York City. A fire struck the theater for the first time on May 26, 1828 then reopening the same year on August 20th as Bowery Theatre.

Bowery Theatre saw its greatest success under the management of Thomas Hamblin who advertised the theater as a pro-American and populist location. A second fire in 1830 allowed Hamblin to rebuild and rename the theater as American Theater, Bowery although it was still popularly called Bowery Theatre. Now featuring variety shows, unknown American actors and playwrights, and minstrel acts, Bowery Theatre became the complete opposite of its original high drama European conception. In the later-half of the 19th Century and early 20th Century, new managers found success in showing plays for German, Italian, Irish, and Chinese immigrants. Over the years, Bowery Theatre would burn down again in 1836, 1838, 1845, and 1913. A final fire on June 5, 1929 claimed the historic Bowery Theatre that stood for 103 years.

Image: “The Old Bowery Theatre, 1860” printed for T.D. Valentine Manual. South Street Seaport Museum 2006.045.0005

#TodayinHistory #theater #nyhistory #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #CultureFromHome #MuseumFromHome

Join us this coming Friday, October 23 for the last virtual tour of our home, the 1810-1812 Schermerhorn Row, as part of...
10/21/2020

Join us this coming Friday, October 23 for the last virtual tour of our home, the 1810-1812 Schermerhorn Row, as part of Archtober. You can still visit our galleries, see a selection of artifacts on display, and the remains of the old hotel made famous by author Joseph Mitchell, from anywhere in the world through this virtual tour!

Register at: seaportmuseum.org/archtober

#Archtober2020 #SchermerhornRow #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport
#architecture #nyhistory #lowermanhattan #southstreetseaport #MuseumFromHome

#OnThisDay in 1931 this aerial photograph depicting a fleet of ships “in storage” in Kill Van Kull, near Prall’s Island,...
10/19/2020

#OnThisDay in 1931 this aerial photograph depicting a fleet of ships “in storage” in Kill Van Kull, near Prall’s Island, Staten Island, was taken.

Although Prall’s Island's only current permanent inhabitants are birds, the island was once a major farming center, used primarily to grow salt hay. In the 1930s, Prall’s Island was expanded to its current size when dredged material from the Arthur Kill Channel was deposited there. However, the island saw little activity, except during the world wars, when the military anchored surplus ships off its shores.

The Reserve Fleet was owned by the United States Shipping Board (USSB) which had been formed by the Merchant Marine Act of 1916. The Act was designed to secure an American merchant marine, in both peace and times of war, to protect commerce and support national defense. The Staten Island Reserve Fleets and the Hudson Valley Reserve Fleet were two of several “storage” fleets for Shipping Board vessels across the nation.

Image: Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc., “Boats of Prall's Island, Staten Island, New York” October 19, 1931. Gift from an anonymous donor. South Street Seaport Museum 2018.008.0155

#aerialphotography #NewYorkHarbor #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome

Today we join archeologists and archeology enthusiasts around the world in celebrating #InternationalArchaeologyDay!Land...
10/17/2020

Today we join archeologists and archeology enthusiasts around the world in celebrating #InternationalArchaeologyDay!

Land has always held great value throughout New York’s history. As a result of the land-making practices that expanded Manhattan’s shoreline during the late 18th and early 19th century, the South Street Seaport Historic District is one of New York’s richest archaeological areas, and a mecca for anyone who wants to study the past, using the objects people have left behind underground.

In the last forty years, the focus of archaeological activities in New York City has shifted from life before the city was created, and sites associated with the Revolutionary War, to the study of the city itself. Most archaeological work today is completed by professional archaeologists in response to proposed construction projects under the oversight of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Archaeology Department, following city, state, and federal laws.

Today is a great time to check out our #blog to learn more about the rich archaeology history of Lower Manhattan, and our recent acquisition of mid-19th century ink and mucilage bottles, recently excavated locally by Chrysalis Archaeology.

Read more about it here: seaportmuseum.org/recent-acquisition-1860s-1880s-ink-and-mucilage-bottles/

#archaeology #nyhistory #newyorkcity #southstreetseaport #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins #OurCityOurSeaport

For this #ThrowbackThursday and bi-monthly entry for our “Collections Chronicles” blog, we had a conversation with Karen...
10/15/2020

For this #ThrowbackThursday and bi-monthly entry for our “Collections Chronicles” blog, we had a conversation with Karen D. Taylor, founder of While We Are Still Here: Preserving Harlem's History— an organization that preserves and honors the cultural history of Harlem in the face of rapid change and gentrification.

Ms. Taylor contacted us a few months ago to find the story of Black American moving to Harlem by ship during the Great Migration, the mass movement of about six million Southern Black Americans to the north and west between 1915 and 1960. The exchange between Ms. Taylor and the Museum’s Collections and Curatorial Assistant, Michelle Kennedy, touched on the importance of knowing your neighbors, the value of community voice in the telling of history, and how New York’s waterways connect us all.

Read more about it here: seaportmuseum.org/honoring-harlems-history/

Image: "Harlem River" ca. 1930s, by McLaughlin Aerial Survey. South Street Seaport Museum Photo Archive H34-0006

#nyhistory #blackhistory #newyorkcity #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport

“The highlight was the hotel room wallpapers and the hoistway, remnants of the rich commercial layering of those buildin...
10/14/2020

“The highlight was the hotel room wallpapers and the hoistway, remnants of the rich commercial layering of those buildings —a miniaturized history of trade-and-business in the city” reports an attendee of last week Archtober’s building tour.

Join us for the next two Schermerhorn Row virtual building tours this Friday, October 16, 3-4 pm ET as part of #Archtober2020 and Sunday, October 18, 2-3 pm ET as part of Open House New York weekend.

These virtual visits offer the opportunity to learn the history and see the developments in architectural styles and usage of this remarkable row of Landmarked buildings. The Museum’s Director of Collections explores the interior galleries, often closed to the public, a selection of artifacts on view, and the remains of two 150-year-old hotels made famous by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell’s “Up in the Old Hotel.”

Register at seaportmuseum.org/archtober/ or seaportmuseum.org/open-house-new-york/

#OHNYwknd #openhousenewyork #archtober #architecture #SchermerhornRow #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport #WhereNewYorkBegins

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Navy! 245 years ago, a resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now the Uni...
10/13/2020

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Navy! 245 years ago, a resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now the United States Navy with “a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportional number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months…”

The creation and development of the U.S. Navy extended over nearly a quarter of a century, from the American Revolution to the Quasi-War with France (1798-1801), and proceeded in the face of numerous political, philosophical, and economic obstacles. Learn more about the service’s origins on their website at history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/heritage/origins-of-the-navy.html

From 1775 through today, American sailors have stood watch with honor, courage and commitment. This year, as a growing number of celebrations are becoming digital due to social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, the Navy suggested commemorating the event via social media inviting all Americans to “Thank a Sailor!” So please, join us in thanking Navy sailors!

Image: “The Great International Naval Review” April 27, 1893. Chromolithograph published by Kurz & Allison. Peter A. and Jack R. Aron Collection, South Street Seaport Museum 1991.070.0056

#TodayinHistory #OnThisDay #USNavy #245NavyBirthday #americanhistory #maritimehistory #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

Today on #IndigenousPeoplesDay we want to celebrate the Lenape people who lived in the New York Bay area long before Eur...
10/12/2020

Today on #IndigenousPeoplesDay we want to celebrate the Lenape people who lived in the New York Bay area long before European adventurers arrived. The Lenape call their land Lenapehoking, and it covers the area between modern day New York City and Philadelphia, including all of New Jersey and sections of Delaware and Connecticut. The word Lenape translates to “original person.”

Forced from their ancestral lands by European colonizers, the influence of the Lenape is still seen today in some of the more iconic streets and locations of New York City. Dutch settlers used the Wickquasgeck, a Native trade route between modern day New York Harbor and Boston, and renamed it Brede Weg or “Broad way.” Before skyscrapers lined the streets of Manhattan the island was known as Manahatta, meaning “the island of many hills.” The Lenape maintained a vast cherry orchard that once covered the southern end of the island leading to the edge of the grove being named Cherry Street. Finally, New York Harbor was once home to half of the world’s oysters. While shucking, the Lenape left behind an abundance of shells and pearls along the East River shoreline, which the Dutch then dubbed Pearl Street.

To learn more about the Lenape people you can stop by Pier 16 where we have a free outdoor exhibition talking about the beginning and development of our city. We also suggest visiting the resources and programs of the Lenape Center.

Image on panel: “Fort New Amsterdam on Manhattan,” 1651. Engraving from Joost Hartgers, Description of Virginia, New Netherland, New England. Courtesy of The New York Public Library, Rare Book Division.

#SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport #WhereNewYorkBegins

The struggle for desegregation in the US has touched every aspect of American life, including waterfront work, shipping,...
10/11/2020

The struggle for desegregation in the US has touched every aspect of American life, including waterfront work, shipping, and passenger travel. Even when state and city laws prohibited racial segregation, many businesses would continue to discriminate without worrying that the laws would actually be enforced. It would take individuals willing to fight against these injustices to bring about meaningful change. One such person is Sarah Elizabeth Ray who, ten years before Rosa Parks, fought against segregation after being removed from the passenger steamer SS Columbia in Detroit, MI.

In June 1945, Sarah Elizabeth Ray was a 24-year-old secretarial school student graduate on a trip to the popular amusement park on Boblo Island with her classmates. Ray was the only Black student in her class on board the SS Columbia, and before the vessel departed, the ship’s manager threatened to have her forcibly removed. After being escorted off SS Columbia, Ray decided to contact the NAACP. The NAACP legal team, lead by Thurgood Marshall, sued the Bob-lo Excursion Co. for breaking Michigan’s civil statute barring racial discrimination in public spaces. The case made it to the US Supreme Court which ultimately ruled in Ray’s favor, upholding the laws against segregation.

Desegregation was fought on numerous fronts on an individual, local, and national scale. It is the responsibility of all history institutions in the US to preserve and share these stories. Learn more about Sarah Elizabeth Ray at the SS Columbia Project, which aims to restore the 118-year old vessel and share Ray’s incredible (and long overlooked) act of resistance.

#FromTheArchives #maritimehistory #americanhistory #blackhistory #SSColumbia #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

This Saturday, October 10, is your last chance to visit our tall ship Wavertree, docked at Pier 16, for this season. Vis...
10/09/2020

This Saturday, October 10, is your last chance to visit our tall ship Wavertree, docked at Pier 16, for this season. Visitors can board the ship for a self-guided tour along a set route that includes access to the main deck and quarter deck, both outdoor areas.

While you're in the seaport district, be sure to stop by Bowne & Co. Stationers and Printing Office at 209-211 Water Street. Our printers will be hosting curbside, socially-distant printing demonstrations on a ca. 1915 proof press set up on the steps of the shop. Demos will illustrate the 19th century printing process, and items printed throughout the day will be given away as a tangible reminder of the printing experience, all for free. No registration required, just stop by!

Click below to learn more about our new safety protocols and reserve your timed-entry tickets!
seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree

#SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport #WhereNewYorkBegins

Hi Folks, Capt. Martin, Fleet Captain and Master of Pioneer, here. I think a lot of people have been wondering, “What is...
10/08/2020

Hi Folks, Capt. Martin, Fleet Captain and Master of Pioneer, here. I think a lot of people have been wondering, “What is going on with our beloved schooner Pioneer these days...?” While things have been made difficult by Covid-19, progress continues to be made!

The Museum is determined to see Pioneer sailing again as soon as possible, and to keep her doing what we know she does so well, for another five decades and beyond. Check out a recent blog post and program I created for the Museum: southstreetseaportmuseum.org/what-is-happening-on-schooner-pioneer/

#schoonerPIONEER #historicship #restoration #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #OurCityOurSeaport

#ThrowbackThursday to the 18th century when instead of looking for places to park, New Yorkers were more likely to look ...
10/08/2020

#ThrowbackThursday to the 18th century when instead of looking for places to park, New Yorkers were more likely to look for somewhere to dock! This two-part model shows the Captain Joseph Rose House, which is still extant at 273 Water Street, and Captain Rose’s ship. Built in 1773 before landfill extended the shoreline of Manhattan to South Street, the Captain Joseph Rose House was waterfront property, allowing the captain to dock his ship in the East River just behind his residence. The model includes Captain Rose’s brig (a ship with two-square rigged masts) Industry with its bowsprit facing the rear windows of the house.

If you want to learn more about the Captain Rose House, and other amazing stories of the architecture in the South Street Seaport Historic District, click here: seaportmuseum.org/seaport-architectural-gems/

Images: “Brig Industry and Captain Rose House”, n.d. Wood, metal, Plexiglas. South Street Seaport Museum, 1979.024.A-.B

#ThrowbackThursday #TBT #architecture #shipmodel #nyhistory #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome

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