About Us

What was the South Street Seaport Museum? Designated by Congress as America’s National Maritime Museum in 1998, the Museum provided hands-on experiences of New York City’s rich maritime history and marine ecology to thousands of people for more than four decades. It included vibrant education programs, reaching thousands of children per year. It had an active development department, bringing in a steady stream of donations and grants. It had a well-run volunteer program, primarily focused on the working ships. That volunteer program facilitated the rebuilding of one of its historic schooners, which was then used as a platform for the Museum’s highly successful sail training program. Its collections were regularly on display, and its galleries were open to the public. Bowne & Company Stationers ran a profitable printing operation, while teaching historic printing methods.

What had become of the Museum? In recent years the Museum (renamed Seaport Museum New York in 2010) had run aground. The once renowned Museum library was no longer accessible. Membership plummeted. The working boats, previously self-sustaining, spent the summer of 2011 tied to the dock, falling into disrepair with a handful of waterfront staff trying to keep up with an overwhelming task. The galleries lay empty and closed.  Bowne & Company was closed. The majority of Museum staff were laid off or furloughed. The education department was closed. Only the gift shop remained, with inventory reduced and merchandise drastically marked down. Virtually every inquiry from the press and the community met with a resounding “no comment.”

What is the Museum’s future?  After many months of continued disintegration and official silence, in September 2011, a new partnership with the Museum of the City of New York was announced, supported by a major grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.  A new management team from MCNY has taken over the Museum’s operations and a new board has been elected.  Bowne has re-opened, and is doing vibrant business again.  The Museum galleries have re-opened as of January 26, 2012.  The Museum’s working vessels are on target to resume operations in the 2012 season.  The Museum’s loyal corps of volunteers have returned to work, and the Museum has begun to rebuild relationships with its supporters and the community.

Save Our Seaport is a grassroots organization made up primarily of Museum volunteers and former staff who seek to bring about a new beginning for the Museum. We support the change in the Museum’s leadership as the only viable way to retain and share the Museum’s collection, rebuild its education department, maintain and grow its long-standing volunteer program, and, ultimately, to regain its critical role in the preservation and telling of New York City’s maritime history.


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Twitter: @saveourseaport

PHONE: (347) 6.PIER16

6 Responses to About Us

  1. Pingback: What’s This All About? | Save Our Seaport

  2. Rosw says:

    Save the seaport!!

  3. sean rooney says:

    I attended your last meeting 7/30/14. Perhaps SOS should try and reach out to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The National Maritime Historical Society, & The American Association for State and Local History. These three organizations should also be enlisted in the effort to TRULY SAVE THE SEAPORT. Another though is the Maritime Association of the Port of New York.

  4. Sean Rooney says:

    I would also like to suggest that we (SOS) should talk with – contact the current (General)Superintendent @ Gateway National Recreation Area. She previously served @ New Bedford Whaling National Hist5oric Park,in Mass. The historic park has a number of historic buildings.
    Another potential resource, would be the Salem National Maritime Historic, there are again a number of historic structures there and the focus is maritime. Salem in the early years of our nation was one of the , if not the richest port in the nation .

  5. ken sacharin says:

    To: Michael Kramer
    From: Ken Sacharin

    Throwing ideas into the (oyster chowder) pot. Most are from you guys, but a few others I haven’t heard mentioned. For your consideration. No response required…

    ——-Establish a grand year-around urban food market (model, borough market london) stretching under the highway and centered around refurbished tin building.

    ——Keep the Tin building, but not a tin ear. Preserve old structures and streetscapes. Make sure that the design of any redevelopment is consistent with the simplicity and authenticity of Schermerhorn Row.

    ——Encourage maritime-related retail by offering them economic incentives. Anyplace can have a GAP or Abercrombie… New retail and restaurants should be screened to have some sort of maritime aspect. Less Mid-American-Mall and More Maritime.

    ——THE MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE: Safeguard the future of the Seaport Museum. Put museum on sound financial footing. Forget the soft promise of $305 million” of unaudited and extravagantly estimated benefits. Insist on guaranteed cash for the Museum. The EDC (or Mayor, or Governor) must make sure that HHC provides written guarantees of the specific income they will pay the Museum for each of the next ten years (with penalties spelled out for not meeting the guarantees). This income must be sufficient to fund all essential activities of the museum. Greenlighting any new HHC redevelopment must be made contingent on this.

    ——Quintuple the amount of pier space available to the Museum. Give the museum more and better places to dock.

    ——Expand the sailing remit of Museum to include more kinds of sailing programs, charters, tours, volunteer, sailing education, intern opps, etc. (A free sailing school for low-income kids?)

    ——Expand the research, education and scholarship remit of the Museum. Provide a place for maritime scholarship in an expanded seaport library

    ——Expand the number of special events and programs at the Museum. (Tall Ships, Anchor the Halve Moen, visiting Clipper ship?, etc) stage periodic big events surrounding the temporary docking of unique vessels and offer paid tours. E.g…United States Naval Academy, Tall Ships from around world, Steve Job’s Yacht, The America’s Cub Yacht (larry ellison). Make sure world-class oceanographic research vessels use the seaport as a port of call.

    ——Give the entire Seaport district a vital new mission: World leader in climate, environmental, and oceanographic research. Seek partnerships with kindred institutions which have an ongoing educational and research and scholarship mission. The Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute would make a PERFECT fit to occupy a revitalized Schermerhorn Row. Offer these institutions free rent in Schermerhorn Row for five years. (Candidates: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

    ——Restore the Museum’s existing ships and acquire MORE ships…any great CLIPPERS still around? What about the Half Moon replica ship in Albany? USE the ships…for charters, tours, day-trips, education, night sails.

    ——Tell the larger story of the seaport and make it sexy—include historic stuff about the district…brothels, gallus mag, kit burns, knock out drops, shanghai, etc.

    ——Produce a constant stream of analog and digital media, newsletters, meetings, and public events (of the kind that attract C-span).

    ——Protect Seaport structures from floods.

    ____All of this will provide jobs and educational opps galore. My motto (with apologies to earlier word-smiths): South Street Seaport, for sail, AND for sale.

    ken sacharin
    925 915 0017

    “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re in colloidal suspension”

  6. Pingback: A Vision to Save the South Street Seaport - Old Salt BlogOld Salt Blog

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