By Dave Caplan
From what started as a small collection of wharves in the 18th century and then becoming an integral part of the most successful port city in the United States leading up to the mid-19th century, South Street Seaport reflects New York’s rise as the international center of commerce. For over two hundred years South Street Seaport was the financial and commercial epicenter of New York City.
South Street’s greatest years of success began when transatlantic ocean liners began crossing the Atlantic on a regular schedule. It became the busiest port in America to receive goods from Europe, Asia and across America.
In 1814 Robert Fulton’s steam powered ferry docked at the street that now bears his name. Ships no longer had to rely on the power of the wind.
The buildings on Schermerhorn Row represent some of the earliest examples of commercial real estate in the 19th century. Known as “counting houses”, import and shipping companies ran their finance and operations departments there.
The seaport itself changed and grew over the years to accommodate the needs of this growing city. Water, Front and South Street were all built on landfill; the original shoreline was where Pearl Street is today. Even the great fire of 1835, which destroyed the majority of buildings in lower Manhattan, couldn’t stop the seaport from its meteoric rise. And there was no problem finding a labor source to help rebuild because 5.5 million immigrants came to New York from 1820 to 1860. Many of them came to the seaport looking for work.
The core of New York Water Taxi’s fleet can be found at South Street Seaport. Make your way down to Fulton Street and jump on one of our iconic Water Taxis or go for a thrill packed ride on the Shark. Relax, have a drink and soak up some history.
Last week’s trivia answer is Manhattan. Mystery photo was the Queen Mary ll.
Trivia question-Who is New York named after?