Update on South Street Seaport

The following was shared at the recent CAMM meeting by Ron Oswald

Courtesy South Street Seaport Museum

Courtesy South Street Seaport Museum

South Street Seaport Museum continues and is, by many measures, alive and well! Just off a highly successful Spring Revival weekend, two of the larger ships are once again open to the public, the 1911 PEKING and the 1907 AMBROSE, the latter with new interpretation. This represents the largest open-ship operation for the museum in some years and is the result of more than $280,000 spent in AMBROSE and significant preparations in PEKING. Although the galleries in Schermerhorn Row remain closed after Hurricane Sandy, the Museum is striding forward on a number of levels including: 

  • Open ships on Pier 16 (PEKING and AMBROSE)
  • Education programs in Schermerhorn Row, the district, the Bowne Shops, and aboard the ships
  • Active printing and education in Bowne & Co., Stationers, Bowne Printers, and woodcarving and model building in the Maritime Crafts Center.
  • The schooner PIONEER readying for another season of her award-winning education programs on New York Harbor and farther afield
  • The schooner LETTIE G. HOWARD readying for a collaborative season with New York Harbor School and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as a flagship and education platform
  • The 1885 ship WAVERTREE is in a bidding process for a city-funded $5.2 million project of hull plate replacements, reinstallation of the ‘tweendeck, and replacement of the weather deck. She will return to Pier 16 in 2015 and become the principal centerpiece of the fleet
  • The highly popular volunteer program is alive and thriving and despite a slight dip in hours in 2013 (owing to closed galleries) the program is now on track to best many recent years in hours and is clearly strong, vibrant, and full of enthusiastic supporters

It’s no secret that SSSM faces serious challenges both in the post-Sandy climate and with respect to rampant development in the Seaport district. But there are some very bright spots. A working group of stakeholders, convened by elected officials at both the state and local levels and including the Borough President, continues to work on recommendations for appropriate development in the district and the long-term health of the Museum. The recent Spring Revival was attended by the Manhattan Borough President, the Seaport’s City Councilmember, the Community Board Chair, the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, and numerous corporate and individual sponsors, not to mention a robust group of volunteers, members, neighbors, and friends of the Museum. 

All of this makes one thing very clear. Although the specifics of the Seaport Museum’s future remain somewhat undefined, there is little doubt that the Museum will once again thrive. It has become evident in the past year and a half since Sandy that the residents of the Seaport district and the city of New York through its elected officials are aware of the import of the Seaport and its story of trade, of immigration, of the growth of the greatest maritime city in America, and in fact the story of America herself. 

I look forward to joining CAMM at the next meeting and hope at that time to be able to offer a further report about the revitalization of the Seaport Museum. I am sorry that I cannot be with you today, but I wish you all the best from South Street. 

CAPTAIN JONATHAN BOULWARE
INTERIM PRESIDENT
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT MUSEUM

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