New York City Guide

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South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport is located on the waterfront of the East River adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a popular tourist area of Manhattan, that consists of a number of restored 19th century buildings. The brick buildings with their cobblestone streets contrast sharply with the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan. The port is a mix of a museum and an outdoor shopping mall. Except for South Street itself, the area is closed to traffic.

The revitalization of the South Street Seaport has resulted in a historic district with displays that offer the visitor an idea of what the area may have looked like many years ago, but with a theme park atmosphere, which is a long way from the rough though area that it must have been in the past.

One of South Street Seaport's main tourist attractions is Pier 17. located at the site of one of the fish market’s oldest piers. The pier has been reconstructed, allowing the three story pavilion to extend out over the East River. The Pavilion contains a variety of retail establishments and restaurants. On the third level there are excellent views overlooking the East River. From this level it is also possible to see the Statue of Liberty.

There is a reasonable amount of history on display here, most of it around the South Street Seaport Museum. The museum has four galleries, and one of the country's largest fleets of historic sailing ships, included amongst the historic ships berthed at the pier, are the 1911 four masted Peking and the 1893 Gloucester fishing schooner.

Historically, this Seaport dates back to the 1600's. Throughout this time, the most important role of the South Street Seaport was as a gateway to New York City. Through the port, goods were shipped to and from many parts of the country and to many other ports throughout the world. This activity brought with it the development of the area, with the construction of new buildings, taverns, and warehouses. Soon, this area became one of the most vital commercial centres in the city of New York.

During the mid 1860’s, South Street Seaport started to decline, many of the shipping lines abandoned the port for much larger ones located along the Hudson River. Eventually this once thriving port become almost abandoned, only a couple of shipping lines, and the Fulton Fish Market remained. The area remained relatively forgotten until The Rouse Company of Colombia, Maryland, became interested in including the South Street Seaport in the revitalization effort taking place in lower Manhattan. The end result gave the inhabitants of Manhattan a place to escape from the frenzied atmosphere of the city.

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