South Street Seaport Historic District

South Street Seaport Historic District (27)

The best place to learn about the past of the port city of New York is, undoubtedly, this historic district with its maritime museum. Here you will find the narrowest streets in Manhattan and many of its oldest buildings. The street layout dates back to the 18th century and boasts the greatest concentration of 19th-century commercial buildings throughout the city. At the same time, a great variety of restaurants and international brand shops proliferate on its streets. Pier 17, for instance, has become a spectacular mall on the banks of East River offering magnificent views from its top floor. 

The district was declared a historic area in 1977, and the truth is that the result is a curious mix between past and present.

We must not forget, however, the importance of this area in the past. During the 19th century, it was the place with the largest number of businesses in the city. Moreover, from here major innovations in shipbuilding emerged: the first steam warship by Robert Fulton in 1814 or the first armoured battleship with a turret by Swedish engineer, John Ericsson, in 1862.

The entrance to the Seaport district is marked by the presence of the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse, a small white lighthouse that commemorates the victims of the RMS Titanic, the famous ship hit by an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, while in route to the city of New York. Fulton Street stretches out behind it, a pedestrian street with many shops and restaurants, where the mix of past and present becomes more blatant. A clear example of this is, at its southern end, the Schermerhorn Row, a row of red brick buildings from the early 19th century featuring a Georgian and federal style. Its former workshops now house shops, bars and fancy restaurants.

The South Street Seaport Museum is an option that may be interesting, if we are interested in the nautical world or if we are accompanied by children, as it offers great activities for children.

Furthermore, on Pier 16, you can visit some old ships, like the Ambrose, from 1908. With its characteristic deep red colour, this lightvessel was used to allow entry of great ocean liners. The Peking, one of the world's largest sailing ships, the Pioneer, a 30-metre schooner built in 1885 and the odd Wavertree with a metal hull are also moored here.

Finally, north of the museum you will find the Fulton Street Market, the oldest fish market in New York. To appreciate its activity, you have to be an early riser or a night owl, depending on how you look at it, since it opens at three in the morning and closes at eight o'clock. Its fish offer impresses with its variety and exoticism, but, as well as the rest of the district, it has already lost some of its old flavour. Actually, catches no longer arrive on fishing boats, but in large refrigerated trucks from all over the continent.

Undoubtedly, this place is always lively and full of activity; you will surely encounter a concert or interesting exhibition and it offers many possibilities to have a good time, whether you are a lover of ships, shopping or dining.

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