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South Street Seaport Historic District

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South Street Seaport Historic District Review

Had this charming cobblestone corner of the city not been declared a historic district in 1977, the city's largest concentration of early-19th-century commercial buildings would have been destroyed. Today, the area is largely filled with tourists, and if you've been to Boston's Quincy Market or Baltimore's Harborplace, you may feel a flash of déjà vu—the same company leased, restored, and adapted the existing buildings, with the result being the blend of a quasi-authentic historic district with a slightly homogenous shopping mall.

At the intersection of Fulton and Water streets, the gateway to the seaport, is the Titanic Memorial, a small white lighthouse that commemorates the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. Beyond the lighthouse, Fulton Street turns into a busy pedestrian mall. On the south side of Fulton is the seaport's architectural centerpiece, Schermerhorn Row, a redbrick terrace of Georgian- and Federal-style warehouses and countinghouses built from 1811 to 1812. Some upper floors house gallery space, and the ground floors are occupied by shops, bars, and restaurants. Cross South Street, once known as the Street of Ships, under an elevated stretch of FDR Drive to Pier 16, where historic ships are docked, including the Pioneer, a 102-foot schooner built in 1885; the Peking, the second-largest sailing bark in existence; the iron-hulled Wavertree; and the lightship Ambrose. The Pier 16 ticket booth provides information and sells tickets to the museum, ships, tours, and exhibits. Pier 16 is the departure point for various seasonal cruises.

To the north is Pier 17, a former multilevel dockside shopping mall that is currently undergoing redevelopment and is expected to open in 2016 with a new rooftop space, restaurants, outdoor bars, and an ampitheater. Pier 17 used to be the home of the Fulton Fish Market, which first opened in South Manhattan in 1807; starting in 1939 it was housed in the New Market Building, just north of the Seaport, but that closed in 2005 when operations were moved to a new 400,000-square-foot facility in Hunt's Point in the Bronx.

    Contact Information

  • Address: South Street Seaport, South Street Seaport, New York, NY 10038 | Map It
  • Phone: 212/732–8257 events and shopping information
  • Website:
  • Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, Z to Fulton St./Broadway-Nassau.
  • Location: Financial District
Updated: 02-24-2014

Fodorite Reviews

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    OK, but kind of commercial

    This attraction consists of several redeveloped old commercial buildings, a few historic ships, and a small museum with whaling artifacts and such. It has become a very touristy milieu, with bad, overpriced restaurants and a shopping mall complex at Pier 17, though there is a pleasant enough view across the river here. Not a must-see and overpriced for what you get, but pretty good if you like ships and don't mind shopping malls. Don't even consider seeing the ships if it has rained, as they close these up at the least sign of dampness and keep them closed until they're sure of being dry, which can take several hours.

    by bachslunch, 12/14/08

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