New York City Travel: South Street Seaport

Sandy Mitchell

South Street Seaport, located at the southern tip of Manhattan, is a historic district and includes south of the oldest buildings in New York City. The renovated complex features restored 19th century warehouses and mercantile buildings, authentic 19th century tall sailing ships, the Fulton Street fish market, a maritime museum, and modern tourists malls featuring restaurants, shopping, and nightlife -- all this with a spectacular view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

History of South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport, in the 1800s, was a working dock area, where fisherman returned from the bay with their catch and tradesmen plied their wares. By the late 1880s, cargo ships had grown too large for the South Street docks and the area fell into decline.

South Street Seaport, as we know it today, began in 1967, the brainchild of Peter and Norma Stanford. The original complex was designed as a living museum, dedicated to teaching visitors about New York life in the 19th century. The area grew gradually and eventually came to include restaurants, tourist shops, nightclubs, and an amusement pier. During the warm weather months, street entertainers -- jugglers, mimes, clowns, musicians, and such -- perform for the crowds.

The Maritime Museum

The twelve-block South Street Seaport Maritime Museum features cobblestone streets, authentic warehouses with costumed docents that tell of life at the seaport as well as a host of striking sailing ships, permanently moored at the seaport. The restored buildings also feature a changing array of maritime exhibits and regular events that help to illustrate the history of the area.Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and $4 for children between 5 and 12 years of age. Children under 5 are admitted Free. Admission is discounted on Mondays.

The Ships

Eight tall ships grace the harbor at South Street Seaport, ranging from the four-mast 377-foot long Peking to the 112-foot lightship Ambrose to the 52-foot 19th century tugboat, the W.O. Decker. Kids and adults alike will enjoy exploring these well-preserved relics of New York City's seafaring past. The Seaport has the largest permanent collection (in tonnage) of historic ships of any site in the world.

Visiting South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport is open year round. Museum hours vary, but include at least one late night each week. Visitors can explore the ships, tour the museum, or stroll along the cobblestone streets. You can grab a sandwich or sit down for an elegant seafood meal, overlooking the East River. The dozens of stores in the cobblestone district and on Pier 17 range from Abercrombie and Fitch to the Metropolitan Museum Store. Just off the shopping pier, visitors can board a scenic harbor cruise or sit and take in the view of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Seaport offers visitors a little bit of everything. You can even take Argentine tango lessons there.

New York City Travel: South Street Seaport