Sunday, May 4, 2008

South Street Seaport, Lower Manhattan

I had a busy weekend of "faith, family and friends". I hope your weeekend was enjoyable, too!

On Friday, I went to lower Manhattan to take part in a Big Onion walking tour that was being sponsored by my husband's employer.
"Big Onion Walking Tours" is a tour company that leads locals and visitors alike on innovative and exciting tours through New York's ethnic neighborhoods and historic districts, peeling away the many layers of New York City's history and lore. Our guide was a charming young woman named Beth who is a PhD candidate in American History at Columbia University.

I know I spent a lot of time in March and April taking you around the sights of lower Manhattan, but there is quite a bit more I'd like to share with you of our many layered city! Before the Big Onion tour I did some preliminary walking and photo taking to share of some interesting sights of lower Manhattan.

First stop is South Street Seaport. The seaport has a world-class maritime museum, breathtaking views and more than 100 shops, cafes and restaurants. This renovated American landmark is right on Lower Manhattan's historic waterfront,located where Fulton Street meets the East River, and adjacent to the Financial District.

The seaport features some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan, and includes the largest concentration of restored early 19th-century commercial buildings in the city. This includes renovated original mercantile buildings, renovated sailing ships, the former Fulton Fish Market, and modern tourist malls featuring food, shopping and nightlife, with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Below is a picture of the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse which is located at the entrance to the Historic Seaport District. It is a memorial to the passengers, officers and crew who died as heroes when the steamship Titanic sank after collision with an iceberg on April 15, 1912. It was originally erected by public subscription in 1913, and stood above the East River on the roof of the old Sea men's Church Institute, until they moved they moved their headquarters and the lighthouse was donated to the South Street Museum.

As you walk past the lighthouse into the seaport you see Schermerhorn Row.

In the 1700’s the Schermerhorns, a family of ship masters and chandlers, purchased much of the area that is today’s Seaport District. In 1810, Peter Schermerhorn began construction of a block-long series of conjoined buildings now known as Schermerhorn Row. The South Street Seaport Museum visitor Center, exhibition galleries and maritime library are now located there, as well as restaurants and specialty stores.

Across from Schermerhorn Row is the Fulton Market, which was established in 1822 to sell a variety of foodstuffs and produce. The Fulton Fish Market was once part of it until 2005, and during much of its 188-year tenure at the original site, the Fulton Fish Market was the most important wholesale East Coast fish market in the United States. The fish market is now in a new, modern structure in the borough of the Bronx.

The Peking, a four-masted barque, is docked at Pier 16 and is seen in the first photo with the NYC skyline, and below. It represents the final chapter in the evolution of merchant vessels powered only by wind. Launched in Hamburg, Germany in 1911, she was used to carry manufactured goods to South America and to return via Cape Horn with nitrate. In 1975, Peking was acquired by the museum, and with paid admission visitors can go below decks to tour restored living quarters, to view an exhibition of vintage photos of the ship during her active career, and other exhibits.

The Ambrose lightship is also docked along Pier 16. It was built in 1908 to guide ships safely from the Atlantic Ocean into the broad mouth of lower New York Bay between Coney Island, New York and Sandy Hook, New Jersey, which is an area filled with sand bars and shoals invisible to approaching vessels. While a lighthouse is normally used for this purpose, the water here was too deep, and the bottom too soft, and this floating alternative was devised.

South Street's Ambrose lightship occupied her original station until 1933, and then served as the Scotland lightship closer to Sandy Hook until 1963. She was given to the museum by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1968. Today, visitors can board the Ambrose to view an exhibition of photographs, charts, and artifacts on navigation and the role of lightships

Across is Pier 17, a building with 3 floors of shops and restaurants but, more importantly, spectacular views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the back deck of the pavilion.
A view inside Pier 17's three tiers.

The view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights from the top deck of the Pier 17 pavilion. On a nice summer day it is pleasant to sit in one of the permanent deck lounges and watch the East River boat traffic go by. Although stationary I think it almost feels like being on a deck of a cruise ship!

The surrounding blocks of the seaport have some interesting old buildings to view that reflect back to the maritime era of the port of New York.

Carmine's Italian Seafood restaurant (no affiliation with the midtown restaurant with the same name) has been in the area on Front Street and Beekman for over 100 years and still serves up old fashioned red sauce lunch and dinners. There is local lore that, Carmine Russo, the original owner, began his restaurant career as a boy, selling food first from a milk crate on the corner of Beekman Street and later in the Fulton Market building. Many people in the neighborhood remember Russo as a colorful, local figure. Marlon Brando is reported to have met him when filming On the Waterfront in the 1950s. As South Street Seaport legend goes, Russo's deep voice and commanding presence made an impression on Brando and, years later, became the inspiration for the Godfather character

Herman Melville included the life, language, and culture of the seaport area in his novels, placing Moby Dick narrator Ishmael on Front Street a block is being redeveloped into a residential neighborhood of condos and rental apartment buildings. A homage to Moby Dick can be found above one to the building's entrances.

It reads:

"Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?- Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep." - 1851 Herman Melville Moby Dick

And another relic of an old New York is this interesting old door on Water Street.

As you leave the seaport you enter into the Financial district of lower Manhattan, as you can see in the photo below. The middle building hold some nostalgia for me as it was the sophomore resident dorm for my daughter when she attended New York University. At one time it was an office building but as NYU expanded it needed more student housing and converted this entire building into a dormitory, and provided shuttle bus service to the students to transport them to the university which is located in the Greenwich Village section of NYC.

I hope you enjoyed this little look into South Street Seaport. It is full of crowds and activities in the summer along with outdoor concerts and events, and opportunities to take boat rides on the river and into the New York Bay to pass the Statue of Liberty.

Tomorrow I will show you more of lower Manhattan, including the New York City Vietnam Memorial.


Mrs. B said...

Hi Pat! This was another fabulous sight seeing trip! I love that first photo with the old ship in front of those modern high rises. I'm always so impressed with all the information you share with us on these posts. I'm sure it must take quite a bit of research on your part and I really appreciate you sharing it with us!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Another fantastic tour! You'd be a delightful tour guide yourself, Pat. Your husband works for this company? Does he give tours?

The way you grab the little things and the larger items of interest, the unique doors, the chairs set up like a ship deck...yup, it really does look that way, and even Melville all make you a natural.

Looking forward to the next one!

An Enchanted Cottage said...

Pat, you should really write for the "I Love New York" campaign or the tourism department for New York! I swear, every time I read one of your posts I'm immediately ready to head for NY! And I love that in addition to all the factual information and visuals you share with us, you also throw in so many 'behind the scenes' little tidbits (such as Marlon Brando modeling his Godfather character after Carmine Russo!).. Thanks again for a stroll through the streets of New York!!...Donna

Ute said...

I do agree that it is so interesting to learn new things through the websites and blogs. Now I visited your blog for the first time and it was amazing. I have never been to New York before. So thank you very much for showing us these nice photographs. I love the Seaport most.
Best wishes from Germany

willow said...

Pat, I am really enjoying your little tours! You are inspiring me to plan a NYC trip. Thanks...another great post. :)

Beverly said...

Pat, you are Wonder Woman. I have officially decided that if I ever have the opportunity to go to NYC, I'm calling you. But, you are giving us such a glorious and fun tour, I feel as if I am there with you.

In addition to Wonder Woman, I now crown you Queen of NYC.

Pat said...

Vee-- no the Big Onion is not my husband's I wouldn't mind if it were mine :-)

Mrs. B,Donna, Willow, Ute and Beverly ... NYC gives me a lot of material to work with so I can't resist gabbing about it :-)

rochambeau said...

Hi Pat,
so nice to meet you and find your blog!

Wondered if you know my friend Lea?
She designed the Santa Rosa Labyrinth. You will like reading about her I think.
Hope you have a great day!

Junie Moon said...

Wow, another wonderful tour! It almost feels like I'm actually there seeing all this for myself and, one day, I will. My own little tour will already be arranged by simply printing out your fantastic blog posts. By the way, I love the name "The Big Onion".


You really should be working for tourism Pat, your tours around NY are so informative and really make me want to be there, right now! I hope to visit one day, when we have saved up a few of those pennies? x

Linda Lou said...

More wonderful memories. My first job was on Park Row working for 2 attorneys, we would walk down to Fulton Fish Market sometimes for lunch. Great photos!! I need a NY fix..

Tara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara said...

PAT__Sorry, I had to remove the last post, I got all garbled!!

Isn't this cool, next time I'm in the city visiting my son I'll know where to go downtown! Your posts are so informative!



Beth Leintz said...

Thanks again for a wonderful tour of an area I had never visited- great pictures, and I love the history you share as you take us on a tour!

Lisa B. said...

...And where do I leave my tip for tour guide Pat!! You give the most awesome tours!!! I read this one to my husband and he loved it too. (I even read it to him in my best Brooklyn accent, which is how I always read your posts in my head. You do have an accent don't you Pat?) I love it! And I loved that door, very cool! Thanks again!

Rue said...

Hi Pat :)

Another interesting tour. I really would love you to be my guide one day when we have a chance to visit. The history is wonderful!

Let me know if you make the steak, so I know if you liked it.

rue :)

Susie Q said...

Another fabulous tour of some of my most favorite places on Earth!
You SHOULD be a guide Pat! You would be wonderful!!

Thank you for these rich and delightful posts. You are amazing!


steviewren said...

Pat, maybe you should organize a tour for internet friends. Hmmmm, maybe your advertising should read something like this:

You've taken dozens of virtual tours with her. Now's your chance to Get REAL in NYC with Pat!

Gina said...

I'm so enjoying your trips Pat..looks like a very interesting place to visit, esp the museum.. great photos..this armchair {or should I say ergonomic chair) travel is so good! Have a wonderful week Gxx

Mélanie said...

When I am in NYC , I love to go there ! I like the ambiance even if now it has changed a lot !
these armchairs outside remind me a rest I had there one day

Rhondi said...

Hi Pat
I think you need to become an official tour guide for NYC! I am enjoying your tours immensely.

Cori G. said...

Hi Pat,
It must be nice to live somewhere that has so much history. In Southern Cal developers are always snatching up historic areas and tearing them down. It's so sad.
What a great tour! I really loved the Harbor and the boats also the picture of the door. There's something very intrigueing about them. You almost wonder what lives were like behind them.
Thanks again :)