New York – On April 25, Council Member Margaret Chin and other local officials joined the South Street Seaport Museum to kick off a new season of programming on the institution’s historic vessels. The all-day event drew several thousand visitors to the Seaport and more than doubled active membership for the South Street Seaport Museum. Opening Day at Pier 16 included a range of free and family-friendly activities and tours.
Opening Day at Pier 16
City Council Member Margaret Chin rang in the new season on the lightship Ambrose’s bell during a ceremony on Pier 16.
The day included arts & crafts, a Seaport scavenger hunt, historic ships, tours, and live music! At Pier 16, hands-on educational programs included learning about sailors’ navigation, observations of some of the creatures that make New York Harbor a living estuary habitat, and conduction of a buoyancy test of boats made out of clay. Attendees watched the “uprigging” of the schooner Lettie G. Howard in preparation for the spring season. The public observed and asked questions about the process of rigging a traditionally rigged fishing schooner built in 1893. At the 12 Fulton St. Visitors Center, children of all ages – and adults! painted a mural of images related to Opening Day at the Seaport on the new Seaport Storywall. Opening Day featured live musical performances on Pier 16 including The Lobbyists, performers in the upcoming concert/play Seawife, presented by Naked Angels in partnership with South Street Seaport Museum (coming to Melville Gallery on Water Street in June 2015).
The Seaport Museum offered a special deal for opening day: new membership for $1!
Opening Day Activities on Pier 16
Seaport Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunt stations throughout the district provided opportunities to learn about the Seaport. Patrons could toss a line, pull a print, and found hidden clues. Those who completed all seven stations received a unique prize – a sticker sheet based on designs from Bowne & Co.’s historic plate collection.
Float Your Boat
Our historic vessels are all made out of metal but they float! How can metal float? Patrons experimented with designing boats made of clay that would float, even when loaded with cargo.
How to Get There from Here: Sailor’s Navigation
Patrons explored navigational tools like charts and compasses, and learned how sailors find their way.
New York Harbor is Alive! Alive with animals large and small, squishy and squiggly and swimming. Patrons looked through microscopes and handlenses to observe some of the smaller creatures that make New York Harbor a living estuary habitat.
Mobile Print Shop
Bowne Printers demonstrated traditional printing at its Mobile Printshop. A printer operated a tabletop Kelsey press and printed delightful giveaways to visitors and passersby.
Lettie G. Howard
Visitors watched the “uprigging” of Lettie G. Howard in preparation for the spring season. The public observed and asked questions about the process of rigging a traditionally-rigged 1893 fishing schooner.
Patrons took a #seaportselfie with our custom photo frame and maritime props to remember their time at Opening Day and shared on social media with the tags @seaportmuseum and @bowneprinters.
Visitors watch as sailors prepared Pioneer for her upcoming season, beginning Memorial Day Weekend, and asked questions about 1885 schooner.
Opening Day Activities at 12 Fulton Street Lobby and John Street Entrance
Seaport Stories: Children of all ages – and adults! – painted a mural to show what the Seaport means to them on a special wall in the Visitors Center at 12 Fulton Street.
Patrons were inked up like real sailors with temporary tattoos!
Visitors tested their skills throwing lines and attempted to lasso our bollard on John Street!
The public had the chance to step aboard the historic 1911 barque Peking! They marveled at the size of this enormous cargo ship that was powered by sails and human hands alone! Visitors then learned about how ships like this were the last great commercial sailing vessels. Beloved Museum Historian Jack Putnam was aboard Peking telling “Sailor Stories”.
Visitors stepped aboard the National Historic Landmark lightship Ambrose and learned about how the beautiful red ship had a profound impact on the history of New York. Patrons saw what life was like for the crews that served her and were able to take a spin on the helm and commanded their imagination aboard Ambrose!
Schermerhorn Row Tour (1130am or 230pm)
Known as the “Street of Ships,” New York’s South Street was a flurry of commercial activity by the mid-19th century. The trade represented by the ships that called upon her port and an increase in size and scope of the district as a major commercial hub. Special docent lead tours were given for visitors to learn more about South Street’s Waterfront World.
District Walking Tour (1245pm)
At the at the height of the “Age of Sail” piers along South Street were crowded with ships from all over the world discharging their cargoes of coffee, tea, cotton, molasses, and countless other trade goods. The trade represented by these ships as well as the counting¬ houses, hotels, and merchants of the South Street Seaport district, is the very trade that built the growing New York City and, through it, the United States of America. Visitors walked through the story of a city built on its waterways — the story of the formation of New York.
ABOUT SOUTH STREET SEAPORT MUSEUM
South Street Seaport Museum is a non-profit cultural institution preserving and promoting the historic district of South Street Seaport in New York City. Founded on May 22, 1967, the South Street Seaport Museum (SSSM) is dedicated to telling the vital story of the foundation of New York and its link to its great natural harbor. The Museum preserves and interprets the history of New York City as a place where goods, labor and cultures are exchanged through work, commerce, and the interaction of diverse communities. Designated by Congress as America’s National Maritime Museum in 1998, SSSM is located in a 12 square-block historic district on the East River in Lower Manhattan, the site of the original port of New York City. The Museum’s campus is comprised of key historic locations such as Schermerhorn Row, our working trade centers on Water Street, and on the “Street of Ships” at Pier 16. These exhibitions and educational facilities are located in the South Street Seaport in New York City’s largest concentration of restored early nineteenth century commercial buildings. The Museum houses exhibition galleries, working nineteenth century print shops, a maritime library, a maritime craft center, and the largest privately-owned fleet of historic ships in the country.