South Street Seaport | New York Activities
South Street Seaport - This preserved New York seaport on the East River peaked as a commercial center in the early 1800s, so the dozens of stores lining its blocks and filling its pavilion—from Coach and Abercrombie & Fitch to the folksier New York Shell Shop—may not be so out of character.
But for those seeking greater depth, the sight offers tours and programs related to seafaring history and Old New York, as well as surprisingly attuned art and music events. Beginning at Pearl Street, the Fulton Street walkway, repaved in Belgian blocks as part of the 1980s restoration, approaches a row of 19th century brick houses set against an eye-bathing expanse of sky. Across South Street, the wooden-planked stretch of the dock begins and the towering 1911 Peking, a four-masted barque, emerges to captivating effect.
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One of the largest sailing vessels ever built, the Peking was restored by the Seaport in the nineties. Along with the lightship Ambrose and the wrought-iron Wavertree, the Peking is open to visitors as part of the South Street Seaport Museum, which also incorporates the seascape-themed Melville Gallery and hosts various exhibits and family activities. Visitors can go below the deck of the Peking into the sailors' living quarters and, on Sunday afternoons from May to October school groups can see harbor creatures in the wet lab.
Less hands-on are the photos of the ship during its heyday and screenings of the film Peking at Sea, about a rocky voyage around Cape Horn. For Wall Street traders and others not out for touring, crafting, or shopping, the three-floored Pier 17 Pavilion has plenty of restaurants and bars, some high-end, some pubby, and a good number serving seafood and daiquiris to customers sitting waterside.
The promenade wrapping around the pavilion is a good place for a stroll, as it offers a close-up view of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as views of Brooklyn and Governors Island across the harbor. In more recent years, the Seaport has shed some of its touristy reputation and staked a place on the arts scene, hosting readings, summer rock concerts, and bold installations, notably the Bodies exhibit in 2006.
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