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

Black Lives Matter.
06/02/2020

Black Lives Matter.

At South Street Seaport Museum, the maritime chantey tradition lives on. Join us next Sunday, June 7th, for a new virtua...
05/30/2020

At South Street Seaport Museum, the maritime chantey tradition lives on. Join us next Sunday, June 7th, for a new virtual session of #seachanteys and maritime music.

For more information, register, and download a free a custom Zoom background visit: seaportmuseum.org/chanteysing/

Old-time sailors on long voyages spent months living together in close quarters with no outside entertainment, no new people to interact with, a monotonous diet, and each day pretty much just like the day before. How did they keep their spirits up? Singing together!

Work songs and fun songs, story songs and nonsense songs, songs of nostalgia and songs of up-to-the-moment news — all were part of the repertoire onboard. At South Street Seaport Museum, the Chantey tradition lives on.

Join us next Sunday, June 7th, 2-5 pm ET for a new virtual session of sea chantey and maritime music. This event is free, but registration is required. For more information, and download a free a custom background click here: seaportmuseum.org/chanteysing/

05/30/2020

In this uncertain time, we remember our community of traditional sailing vessels and the individuals who care for and share these rich histories with the world.

To “stand together” with our fellow sailors, we are excited to virtually participate in #TraditionalSailingDay with a video from schooner Pioneer’s 2019 sailing season.

This worldwide campaign allows us to highlight our traditional sailing vessel, and our solidarity across the sea.

Video by Casey Stein

#SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #TraditionalSailingVessels #sailingcommunity #sailinginnyc #schoonerPIONEER #NewYorkHarbor #nyfromhome

Hi all! I’m Elena Granado, Volunteer Program Manager, and I run the Museum’s dedicated and lovely volunteer program! For...
05/29/2020

Hi all! I’m Elena Granado, Volunteer Program Manager, and I run the Museum’s dedicated and lovely volunteer program! For this week’s #SeaportMuseumAtHome I’m sharing how I’ve been keeping our volunteers active and engaged.

Although we have paused volunteer projects on our fleet of historic ships, we are still keeping busy through virtual events. Alongside our waterfront staff, I have been putting together webinars and virtual workshops for our volunteers and the general public! A few examples include a ship collisions webinar with a panel of industry professionals in collaboration with Billion Oyster Project staff; a knot-tying workshop with our fleet captain Malcom Martin; and the upcoming celestial navigation webinar with ship Wavertree’s rigger Siyu Chen.

In addition, every other week I welcome all of our volunteers to join me online to raise a glass (or two) and share quarantine stories at our virtual happy half hours.

#MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome #NYFromHome #volunteers #virtuallearning #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

The Hudson River and its ferries were an integral part of American society in the 19th Century. People relied on steamsh...
05/28/2020

The Hudson River and its ferries were an integral part of American society in the 19th Century. People relied on steamships for work, relaxation, and even inspiration when it came to the arts. Many artists and composers dedicated their works to the Hudson River and the steamships that floated upon it. Many ferries featured live bands for entertainment as passengers were taxied up and down the river.

The sheet music for “The River of Song” was originally written by Mrs. Crawford with music composed by Stephen Glover. German-born contralto singer Caroline Hiffert sang this song during one of her tours across America. The steamship Reindeer, pictured here on the cover for “The River of Song,” had a short-lived career as a ferry between New York City and Albany. An unfortunate boiler explosion ended Reindeer’s two year run as one of the fastest steamships on the Hudson River. However, the sheet music has immortalized Reindeer in image and in sound.

Image: Stephen Glover, composer. “The River Song” 1850. From the Collection of Rosa and Robert McRoberts, South Street Seaport Museum 1981.045.0010

#ThrowbackThursday #HudsonRiver #steamship #ferry #music #musichistory #MuseumFromHome #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

Ever wondered how sailors can navigate by the stars? Join Wavertree Rigger, graduate of SUNY Maritime, and tall ship sai...
05/26/2020

Ever wondered how sailors can navigate by the stars? Join Wavertree Rigger, graduate of SUNY Maritime, and tall ship sailor Siyu Chen for an introductory webinar about a few of the concepts involved in celestial navigation this coming Saturday, May 30th, 2-5 pm ET!

Topics will include the coordinate system on Earth, the concept of the celestial sphere and navigation triangle, how to find the North Star, how to read a sextant, and more!

This online program is free, but registration is required as space is limited. Reserve your spot today! seaportmuseum.org/celestialnavigationworkshop

Image: Gordon Grant (1875-1962), “Sea captain holding a sextant,” 20th century. Paper, ink, and pencil. Seamen’s Bank for Savings Collection, South Street Seaport Museum, 1991.079.0033.

#celestialnavigation #virtuallearning #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #CultureFromHome

Today is Memorial Day and we honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military.This aerial photog...
05/25/2020

Today is Memorial Day and we honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military.

This aerial photograph shows the New York City ferry Gold Star Mother who was launched in 1937 with sister ferries Mary Murray and Miss New York. This trio of municipal ferries was the first to feature feminine namesakes. Gold Star Mother was named to honor the mothers of soldiers who died during World War I. The name came from the tradition of families hanging a gold star in their windows to honor a deceased veteran. We wanted to share this piece of New York history to commemorate the sacrifices made by both members of the armed forces and their families.

Image: Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc. “Gold Star Mother Ferry” April 21, 1938. Photograph. Gift from an anonymous donor, South Street Seaport Museum 2018.008.0084

#MemorialDay #nyhistory #MuseumFromHome #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

Today is the anniversary of the opening of the #BrooklynBridge! In 1883, the “New York and Brooklyn Bridge” opened as th...
05/24/2020

Today is the anniversary of the opening of the #BrooklynBridge! In 1883, the “New York and Brooklyn Bridge” opened as the largest suspension bridge in the world with a span of 1,595 feet. For some observers, the sensation of crossing over the East River on anything other than a boat took some getting used to.

As historian David McCullough records in “The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge,” for some people the experience of crossing by horse-drawn carriage was positively terrifying. “You drive over to Suspension Bridge,” wrote Mark Twain, “and divide your misery between the chances of smashing down two hundred feet into the river below, and the chances of having a railway-train overhead smashing down onto you. Either possibility is discomforting taken by itself, but, mixed together, they amount in the aggregate to positive unhappiness.”

Though the bridge is now a familiar New York City icon, reading the positive (and skeptical) reactions to its initial opening reminds us that the Brooklyn Bridge was an ambitious engineering marvel.

Image: Clark’s Spool Cotton Trade Card, ca. 1880. Gift of Peter Neill, 1994.ARC.0103

#TodayinHistory #nyhistory #newyorkcity #ephemeralart #culturefromhome #SSSMcollections #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

All of our photographs depicting arrivals in the Port of New York seem so peaceful and hopeful. This group of tourists i...
05/23/2020

All of our photographs depicting arrivals in the Port of New York seem so peaceful and hopeful. This group of tourists is looking upon the approaching New York skyline with excitement and anticipation.

Image: SS Bremen approaches New York, 1939. Vintage silver gelatin print. US Custom House Collection, 2005.USCH.0236

#MuseumMomentofZen #fromthearchives #NewYorkHarbor #oceanliner #nycskyline #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

Welcome to a new edition of #SeaportMuseumAtHome! Today we’ll take a look at what our Marketing Dept has been up to as t...
05/22/2020

Welcome to a new edition of #SeaportMuseumAtHome! Today we’ll take a look at what our Marketing Dept has been up to as they #workfromhome to promote the Museum’s institutional priorities.

This month we finalized a long-running project to make much needed updates to our website that improve both user and content-creator experience. This work was predominantly digital already so we were able to transition to working at home pretty easily. The new design and structure allows us to showcase important aspects of the Museum that we previously could not. So the most visited areas of our site have been expanded to include more dynamic content. This is most evident in our expanded collections portal where visitors can now see more than 120 images of objects and artifacts. Stay tuned to seaportmuseum.org as we continue to update and expand the site with additional images, videos, a blog, and more. ‪—‬Kenneth Sommer, Creative Director.

In addition to our new website we have been focusing on our expanded newsletter and increased social media content as ways to continue connecting with our community. We are also collaborating with industry partners and peers to move forward and eventually welcome in-person guests back to the Museum when we can safely do so. ‪—‬Michael Yuen-Killick, Senior Director of Marketing and Sales.

#MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome #NYFromHome

The United States is a maritime nation. From our origins up to this very day, the Merchant Marine is central to our coun...
05/22/2020

The United States is a maritime nation. From our origins up to this very day, the Merchant Marine is central to our country’s foundation.

In 1933, Congress declared #NationalMaritimeDay to commemorate the American steamship Savannah’s voyage from the United States to England, marking the first successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean with steam propulsion. On May 22, 1819, the hybrid sailing ship and steamship Savannah departed from Savannah, Georgia. Although the majority of her pioneering voyage was done under sail, Savannah can be considered the earliest side-wheel transatlantic steamship.

Image: Harold Polyblank (1903-1982) “Savannah” mid-20th century. Wood, paint, thread. Peter A. and Jack R. Aron Collection, South Street Seaport Museum 1991.069.0133.

#maritimeheritage #maritimeday #maritimehistory #shipmodel #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome

If you were traveling aboard Cunard Liner RMS Berengaria on this day in 1925 you would have been handed this charming me...
05/21/2020

If you were traveling aboard Cunard Liner RMS Berengaria on this day in 1925 you would have been handed this charming menu. Ocean liner ephemera often uses nautical motifs like fish, seashells and anchors, but in the 1920s mermaids became especially popular.

At the time of her launch in 1913, RMS Berengaria was the largest passenger ship in the world. As one 1922 Cunard Line brochure boasted, “She is 919 feeet long—almost a fifth of a mile. We are accustomed to accepting the Woolworth Building as the most stupendous structure conceivable. The ‘Berengaria,’ if stood on end, would be 149 feet higher than the skyscraper.”

Despite Cunard using the size of Berengaria as a selling point in the 1920s, when the ship was constructed the British shipping line was less enthusiastic; RMS Berengaria was originally built and launched for rival German company Hamburg American Line as SS Imperator. Cunard only tookpossession of the massive liner in 1919 after the ship was seized during World War I. RMS Berengaria would sail for Cunard until she retired in 1938.

Image: A.K. MacDonald (1880-1948). “RMS Berengaria Menu’” May 21, 1925. Paper, ink. Stanley Lehrer Ocean Liner Collection, South Street Seaport Museum Foundation 2006.029.0892

#OnThisDay #TodayinHistory #ThrowbackThursday #ArchivesFromHome #CultureFromHome #MuseumFromHome #oceanliner #ephemera #mermaid #SSSMcollection #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

05/18/2020
International Museum Day 2020

Today we celebrate International Council of Museums - ICOM’s International Museum Day, a day established in 1977 to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society.

The Seaport Museum provides a unique New York experience for people of all ages, origins and backgrounds. The Museum connects visitors to New York City history in an experiential environment, including exhibitions and programs, historic ships and buildings, collections and archives, and 19th century-inspired job printing shops.

We educate diverse communities through shared history and encourage research and discovery of the rich maritime heritage history of New York and future reflections on global maritime industries and movements.

Reminisce with us through this video filmed last summer. We look forward to when we can welcome you back on South Street!

#IMD2020 #InternationalMuseumDay #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins

Each day we work towards further realizing the dreams of our founders. Though today, in the midst of these strange times...
05/17/2020

Each day we work towards further realizing the dreams of our founders. Though today, in the midst of these strange times, we dream of seeing you all back on South Street, sailing aboard our ships, exploring our exhibitions, and discovering our great port city. It's all of you in our community that allow us to continue to realize our greatest dream–telling the story of #WhereNewYorkBegins.

Thank you for following us along this week for MuseumWeek!

#DreamMW #MuseumWeek2020 #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome #NYFromHome

Thank you for joining us, and thousands of institutions worldwide, for #MuseumWeek2020! Today is the final day of the gl...
05/17/2020

Thank you for joining us, and thousands of institutions worldwide, for #MuseumWeek2020! Today is the final day of the global digital initiative to deliver culture and art around the format 7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags.

The theme for today is #DreamsMW, and MuseumWeek asks us to dream of a better tomorrow. After all, the preservation of the South Street Seaport Historic District and establishment of the Seaport Museum as its beating heart—the last remaining part of Lower Manhattan where New York City’s growth through the Age of Sail and working waterfront can be felt— began as an audacious dream nearly 60 years ago.

The Museum’s Founding President Peter Stanford once described the rush to save the Seaport during the 1960s, when Lower Manhattan was undergoing a building boom that was quickly erasing the 19th-century structures of New York’s first seaport. “We saw the barren, windswept plazas that were being built downtown, and we knew we were racing the bulldozer.” Stanford, and a dedicated group of preservationists, believed and worked tirelessly for this dream. Thanks to them, the South Street Seaport Museum and District still stand over half a century later.

Images: South Street Seaport Museum Archives

#MuseumFromHome #NYFromHome #CultureFromHome #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #nyhistory #nyclandmarks

Today is #NationalDrawingDay, as well as MuseumWeek’s #TechnologyMW, so we want to take a moment to illuminate the kind ...
05/16/2020

Today is #NationalDrawingDay, as well as MuseumWeek’s #TechnologyMW, so we want to take a moment to illuminate the kind of drawing that our designers use at our Bowne & Co. print shops: vector drawing.

Vector drawing is the way we translate historic typefaces in our collection into digital fonts. Our designers start by printing a specimen of the type. Then, using the specimen as a template, they use type design software to draw each character.

This process takes time! Each character is made from points and lines called bezier curves. Each point needs to be placed, and each line manipulated one at a time, by hand. The resulting shapes are tweaked and scrutinized until they are smooth and consistent.

Next, the characters are placed in word combinations to test how they look together. More adjustments are made. Drawing type based on printed examples opens up a lot of interesting questions. We ask: How is our drawing influenced by the fact that the original type is historic, and sometimes worn or misshapen? How closely should we replicate the original design, or are some liberties allowed? Then we make more adjustments!

We aren't type designers; we dabble. Occasionally we draw basic digital versions of typefaces that we use often. The one shown here is Card Mercantile, a 1890s engravers-style face that we might use on stationery. Right now, our digital version isn't perfect, but it is an incredibly useful tool that we use to prototype designs digitally as we #workfromhome. And using modern technology to support our historic printing practice is just our style.

#printinghistory #typography #museumtechnology #museumfromhome #culturefromhome #SeaportMuseumAtHome #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

Today’s MuseumWeek theme is tied to one of the flagship subjects of our time: climate change. New York City is intimatel...
05/15/2020

Today’s MuseumWeek theme is tied to one of the flagship subjects of our time: climate change. New York City is intimately connected to its waterways, and the challenges presented by climate change demand that the city reduce emissions and build greater resiliency. We are sharing this 1886 Harper’s Weekly engraving to highlight an unlikely ally in the fight for greater harbor resilience: the oyster.

For nearly three centuries the oyster beds of New York Bay were some of the largest in the world. They were so plentiful it's believed that at the time of European settlement that fully half of the world’s oyster population was located in New York Harbor. An industry developed around seeding and tending the oysters of New York Bay; in the 1850s New Yorkers were not only consuming the local oysters, they were exporting them around the world. However, overharvesting and the pollution of New York’s waterways made the reefs unsustainable. In 1927 oystering in New York Harbor was banned by the City Health Commissioner.

But what do the oyster beds have to do with climate change and resilience? Oyster reefs can serve as natural breakwaters, protecting shorelines from storm surge and erosion. In New York City, the Billion Oyster Project has been working since 2014 to restore New York Harbor’s oyster reefs in collaboration with New York City communities. Aside from the waterfront resiliency benefits, the Billion Oyster Project focuses on educating the public on the environment, empowering New Yorkers to become custodians of their local ecosystem.

Image: Daniel Carter Beard (1850-1941); Harper’s Weekly, publisher. “Opening of the Oyster Season”, October 2, 1886. Paper, ink. South Street Seaport Museum 1983.051.

#MuseumWeek #ClimateMW #weather #ClimateCrisis #ClimateEmergency #FridaysForFuture #ClimateChange #MuseumsAreNotNeutral #MuseumFromHome #CultureFromHome #SouthStreetSeaportMuseum

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