Skip to main content

Views from the Porthole: A Walk to the South Street Seaport

Update March 2013. Much of this are was profoundly affected by Superstorm Sandy in late October 2012. Read this post from March 3, 2013 assessing the storm's impact on the South Street Seaport.

For anyone who regularly walks down to the South Street Seaport and the East River, it's obvious that the entire area has experienced a rejuvenation over the past few years, especially on the weekends. After the closing of the Fulton Street Market a few years ago, the seaside neighborhood looked rough around the edges, but now, thanks to the New Amsterdam Market (Sundays) and the artisan stalls that have opened up across the street on South Street, weekend strolls can include lots of entertainment and food shopping.

South Street Seaport
From the deck of the lightship Ambrose, a view of Lower Manhattan (plus students of Trapeze School)

New Amsterdam Market
fresh food from local food merchants at the New Amsterdam Market

South Street Seaport: Trapeze School
Trapeze School in action


The Trapeze School has also set up shop on wires above Pier 16, making an excursion abroad the lightship Ambrose even that more fun. Several new restaurants have taken up residence in the neighborhood. The upgrading of the East River Waterfront Esplanade, including the two-level modernist pier at Pier 15, contributes to the overall vitality of the seaport.

South Street Seaport
Pier 15 and the East River Waterfront Esplanade

The South Street Seaport Museum at 12 Fulton Street, revitalized under the management of the Museum of the City of New York, boats some sixteen galleries on Schermerhorn Row. The museum's exhibitions encompass a myriad of media - folk art, moving images, fashion, and still photography - to tell the story of New York at sea. The venerable Bowne & Co. Stationers on Water Street, also under the aegis of the museum, is keeping the craft of letter-printing alive with a weekly workshop series. Stop into Bowne & Co. and ask master printer Robert Warner for more information on the workshops.

South Street Seaport Museum
entrance, South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton Street

South Street Seaport
Bowne & Co. Stationers, 211 Water Street

Access to the lightship Ambrose is included with museum admission. Learn about the history of the Ambrose channel and how this ship functioned as a floating lighthouse for boats entering New York Harbor. The ship's portholes provide intriguing glimpses into the revitalized seaport. Image yourself a stowaway from a previous time and these sights would be your first impressions of the New World.

South Street Seaport
The red-hulled ship is the Lightship Ambrose.

View from the Porthole: South Street Seaport
From a porthole on the Ambrose on Pier 16

View from the Porthole: South Street Seaport
From a porthole on the Ambrose on Pier 16

View from the Porthole: South Street Seaport
From a porthole on the Ambrose on Pier 16

View from the Porthole: South Street Seaport
From a porthole on the Ambrose on Pier 16

While the seaport no longer functions as a premiere port for merchant ships, boats do go a-sailing from here for your recreational pleasure, like Circle Line's Zephyr speedboat and Manhattan by Sail's large masted Clipper City. Cruises of 90 minutes or so to distant islands - well, Liberty Island, for example - can requite those with a longing for the sea but who quickly change their minds and wish for dry land again.

Circle Line's Zephyr at South Street Seaport
The Circle Line's Zephyr Statue of Liberty Express

Resources:
• South Street Seaport Museum
12 Fulton Street
Open 7 days a week 10:00am–6:00pm
General admission: $10

• The South Street Seaport
• Circle Line's Zephyr Express
• New Amsterdam Market
• Trapeze School


View South Street Seaport in a larger map

Event note: At the South Street Seaport Museum, Friday, September 28, a book talk with John Maxtone-Graham, author of Titanic Tragedy: A New Look at the Lost Liner. 6:30-8:30 pm, 12 Fulton Street, $20, $15 for museum members. Reservations required.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple. View the whole set on Flickr WOTBA.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

A New York Spring Calendar: Blooming Times and Seasonal Events

See the UPDATED 2018 CALENDAR HERE . Updated for 2017 . At this time of year, thoughts turn to spring. Let's spring forward to blooming times, the best locations for witnessing spring's beginnings, and springtime events in the big city. While the occasional snow could blow through the city, we're just weeks now from callery pears in bloom and opening day at the ballpark. In The Ramble, Central Park. mid-April Blooming Times •  Central Park Conservancy's website  lists blooming times within the park. During the month of March we begin to see crocus, daffodils, forsythia, snowdrops, witch-hazel, and hellebores. Species tulips will emerge in several places, but the Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden are particularly good places to catch the beginning of Spring blooms. Central Park near E. 72nd St., saucer magnolia, typically end of March. •  Citywide Blooming Calendar from New York City Department of Parks & Recreation April is u

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church

At the New Moynihan Train Hall, and the Zen of Going Nowhere

After slowly wandering around the Moynihan Train Hall , opened earlier this year in the James A. Farley Post Office Building across from Penn Station, an Amtrak worker approached me and asked if he could help with directions. “No,” I replied, “I’m just here to look at the station.”  Moynihan Train Hall, between Eighth Avenue, Ninth Avenue, 31st Street, and 33rd Street in Midtown Manhattan I wasn’t taking a train anywhere, not an Amtrak train to Philadelphia or to Boston. I was here to look at this impressive, even enlightening building. The architectural design is somewhat restrained and serious. Bright signage at the Moynihan Train Hall At a time when the idea of actual travel is just picking up, for some New Yorkers like myself, just the novelty of seeing a new transportation project in the city seems to suffice. It’s like mental preparation for taking an actual trip.  Looking up I remember catching Amtrak trains at the old Penn Station, not the beautiful and monumental edifice that

A Walk in NoLita, Sometimes Speaking French

To get to the New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery from where I live in the Village I walk through the precious neighborhood of NoLita. I say "precious," because this neighborhood No rth of L ittle Ita ly is home to many attractive small boutiques and stylish bistros, and it feels like it could be bottled and sold for a large price. In fact, that's happening. The prices for several new condos in the neighborhood's attractive renovated Victorian-era buildings start in the six- and seven-million dollar range. And the proximity of the New Museum solidifies NoLita's stature as a hot neighborhood, with galleries, shoe boutiques and other art-friendly places popping up here and there. Walking along Prince or Spring toward the museum, I have several old and new, ecclesiastical and secular, places to note along the way: Buildings: The St. Patrick's Old Cathedral at Mott and Prince, served as the Roman Catholic Cathedral until the big St. Patrick's was

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line