South Street Seaport Museum


South Street Seaport Museum

12 Fulton Street

NewYork NY 10038 USA


Written by Scott Messmore

The South Street Seaport Museum is a great collection of seafaring history, a research facility and owns a fine collection of seagoing ships from the late 1800s. Visitors can buy tickets to take boat tours around New York City, watch skilled craftsmen restore wooden ships and visit a 19th century printing shop. The W.O. Decker is a restored working tug boat that can take up to six passengers for a ride around the harbor. Among current exhibits is World Port New York: Celebrating 30 Years of the South Street Seaport Museum. This exhibit has the highlights of the museum's collections that preserve the history of New York City as one of the world's principal shipping ports. The exhibition employs a range of materials, including maps, ship models, paintings, trade goods, scrimshaw, steamship memorabilia, and Fulton Fish Market artifacts.

South Street Seaport Museum Library and Art Collection

A reference library of 20,000 volumes plus prints, photographs, and manuscripts pertaining to the history Port of New York City is on site with nearly 10,000 pieces of art and seafaring artifacts. To use the collections for study, please write to the Curator of Collections, South Street Seaport Museum, 207 Front St., New York, NY 10038. To make a research library appointment, call (212) 748-8648. Probably the biggest draw is the sailing ships that have been restored by the South Street Seaport Museum.

The Lettie G. Howard

Built in Massachusetts in 1893, the Lettie G. Howard is a fishing schooner once widely used along the Atlantic seaboard. The Lettie G. Howard was sold to the South Street Seaport Museum in 1968 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988. The Lettie G. Howard has been restored her to her original 1893 appearance, and fitted her out to accommodate trainees on educational cruises. The U.S. Coast Guard has certified the Lettie G. Howard as a Sailing School Vessel.


Wavertree was built at Southhampton, England in 1885, one of the last large sailing ships built out of wrought iron. Today, she is the largest afloat. Wavertree is a four-masted monster that's 377-feet long with nearly 45,000 square feet of sail. The tallest mast rose 17 stories above her decks. Wavertree had a wide-ranging sailing career from India to the South Atlantic and South America. Visitors can watch museum staff as they restore the Wavertree. For a schedule of ship restoration tours, call (212) 748-8590.


The four-masted barque Peking was launched in Hamburg, Germany in 1911 to make round trip sailing voyages to South America around Cape Horn, Africa. Peking served as a training vessel in England for 40 years before the South Street Museum purchased her in 1975. A 12-year restoration project has brought back Peking's full set of wire rigging. The tallest mast on Peking is an amazing 18 stories above her main deck. Below decks, visitors can see historic photographs and watch a film of one of Peking's sailing trips around the perilous Cape Horn.


Pioneer was originally built 1885 to carry sand but was re-rigged as a schooner. Schooners were the delivery trucks of their era, carrying cargo from city to city. Pioneer was the first of only two cargo sloops with iron hulls manufactured in the United States. Pioneer is still the only iron-hulled American merchant sailing vessel still in existence, and the South Street Seaport has it. The Pioneer sails every day at 10 a.m. Call 212-748-8590 for reservations.

Ambrose Lightship

The Ambrose lightship was built in 1908 to guide ships safely in from the Atlantic Ocean into the broad mouth of lower New York Bay between Coney Island, New York and Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The water was too deep to construct a normal lighthouse so a light ship was put in its place. The Ambrose lightship served New York Bay until 1933 when it was moved to another location. In 1963, the U.S. Coast Guard donated the Ambrose lightship to the South Street Museum to put on public display.

Hours of Operation and Location

The South Street Seaport Museum is located at 207 Front St., New York. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. On Thursdays, the museum is open until 8 p.m. Admission to the shops, ships and tours at the museum is: adults, $5; seniors, $4; students, $3; children under the age of 13, $3.

For more information, call 212-748-8600.

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