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South Street Seaport Museum Extends Open Days, through October 31, 2021 – Free Tickets Now Available for Entry to Historic Ships and Outdoor Exhibition on Pier 16
September 18 - October 31
South Street Seaport Museum announces the extension of Open Days through October 31, 2021 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with timed entry at Pier 16 (Fulton and South Streets). Open Days include free tours of the historic tall ship Wavertree and the 1908 lightship Ambrose, free demonstrations by Bowne & Co. letterpress printers, an outdoor exhibition on Pier 16, and cruises aboard the 1930 tugboat W.O. Decker. To learn more and reserve tickets, visit seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree.
President and CEO, Capt. Jonathan Boulware said, “The Seaport Museum is thrilled to welcome visitors to our historic ships on select days from May through October. Last year we saw a tremendous response from New Yorkers to our free and accessible programs out in the fresh air. On the heels of that success, we anticipate sharing our flagship with upwards of 25,000 visitors in 2021. With protocols in place to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff, we look forward to bringing visitors of all ages on board.”
The 1885 tall ship Wavertree is now open through October 31, 2021 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with timed entry, from 11am-5pm. Entry is FREE and includes access to the ship’s outdoor areas, including the main deck and raised rear deck, and the cargo hold. To learn more and reserve tickets, visit seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree.
Wavertree is designated on the National Register of Historic Places and represents the thousands of ships that docked along New York’s waterfront over the centuries. Guests will visit the traditional sailing ship docked at Pier 16. Gaze up at the towering masts and miles of rigging. Learn how people worked and lived aboard a 19th century cargo sailing vessel, from the captain to the ship’s officers, cooks, and crew. Then visit the cargo hold and stand atop our new viewing platform where you can take in the massive main cargo area. Climb up onto the quarterdeck and pose for a photo at the ship’s wheel, and enjoy the view as you look out across New York Harbor and see the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights. Or look landward and see the skyline of the Financial District, which flourished because of ships like Wavertreewhich brought in the goods that helped businesses thrive. One of this year’s attendees said “The view was awesome and the historic ship was amazing; the kids enjoyed the beautiful day.”
Visits will be self-guided along a set route. Wavertree is permanently moored at Pier 16 and does not sail the harbor. Access to Wavertree requires climbing a small set of ladder-type stairs and an angled gangway. Wavertree Open Days are subject to cancellation in the event of severe weather. More information on the history of the Wavertree can be found at seaportmuseum.org/wavertree.
The 1908 lightship Ambrose will be open for FREE tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from through October 31, 2021. The ship will run four tours each day, departing at 11:30am, 2:30pm, 3:30pm and 4:00pm from Pier 16. To book a free tour and for more information, visit seaportmuseum.org/ambrose.
Ambrose is the first vessel to join the Seaport Museum’s fleet and the very first lightship to guard the only shipping channel in and out of the ports of New York and New Jersey—the Ambrose Channel. As part of the Seaport Museum’s general admission, visitors can tour the multiple decks of this National Historic Landmark and see the living and working spaces once inhabited by sailors stationed on Ambrose. The launch of the tours coincides with the anniversary of Ambrose’s August 5, 1968 arrival at the Museum. One of this year’s attendees said “We really enjoyed the tour on the Ambrose and learned a lot about the ship and particularly the piece about how Ambrose (the person) worked to deepen the waterways into NY Harbor to accommodate the larger ships that were making its way to our shores.”
Guided tours last approximately 30 minutes. Advance reservations are recommended. Guests must check in 15 minutes before the tour. Access to Ambrose requires walking up an angled gangway. Stairs lead to the lower decks.
W.O. Decker Cruises
The 1930 tugboat W.O. Decker will be open for public cruises every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October 31, 2021. The ship will run three tours each Saturday, departing at 1:15pm, 2:45pm, and 4:15pm. Tickets to ride are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors/students, and $15 for kids and are available for purchase at seaportmuseum.org/decker.
Take an exciting 75-minute ride on the last surviving New York-built wooden tugboat W.O. Decker, recently named “Tugboat of the Year” by the Steamship Historical Society of America. Cruises will explore the New York Harbor, and views may include the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Battery, and Governors Island, as you set out on an adventure unlike any you’ve had before! One of this year’s attendees said this is the “best way to explore NY harbor, loved the historic tugboat and the captain’s explanation of the industrial part of the harbor.”
Advance reservations are recommended, and guests must check in 15 minutes before the scheduled tour.
Bowne & Co. Demonstrations
Bowne & Co. is hosting FREE outdoor letterpress printing demonstrations through October 30, 2021 on Fridays and Saturdays. The printers will set up a selection of historic presses outdoors on the steps of 209-211 Water Street. Demonstrations will take place every hour on the hour between 11am-5pm and each will run from five to seven minutes long, illustrating the 19th century printing process with a variety of presses and equipment from the Museum’s Printing History Collection. Items printed throughout the day will be given away as tangible reminders of the experience. Bowne & Co. public programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. One of this year’s attendees said “Kids thought it was magic.”
Alongside demonstrations, new products are now available for purchase from Bowne & Co., Stationers in the online shop at bowne.co, including new lines of letterpress-made postcards, broadsides, and boxed notecard sets. Grab a broadside to support your favorite New York City borough or to celebrate the woodtype characters the Bowne & Co. team used previously as part of the #36DaysofType project. Items purchased online can be shipped anywhere in the country or scheduled for in-person pick up at 209-211 Water Street on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Visit bowne.co to browse and purchase.
The Seaport Museum is also offering a FREE outdoor exhibition on Pier 16, which will provide the opportunity to discover this chapter of New York City’s history. This series of panels and window graphics will celebrate the people of all backgrounds who lived and worked in the South Street Seaport Historic District, and the many businesses that created the foundations for New York to thrive and become the business and culture mecca it is today. Using historic photographs, prints, lithographs, and paintings, the exhibition highlights some of the Seaport Museum’s collection of more than 28,000 artifacts and works of art, and over 55,000 historic records.
I had an awesome and informative time visiting the Wavertree. Having staff around to explain features and details while letting visitors wander and check out the various cabins and decks at their own pace was really refreshing.
It was all very interesting. We all enjoyed it. One of the staff allowed our kids to turn a wheel and explained a few things on the top of the captain’s deck, which was great.
We really enjoyed the tour on the Ambrose and learned a lot about the ship and particularly the piece about how Ambrose (the person) worked to deepen the waterways into NY Harbor to accommodate the larger ships that were making its way to our shores.
Decker is the best way to explore NY harbor; loved the historic tugboat and the captain’s explanation of the industrial part of the harbor.
The printing demonstration was fascinating, and the printer was a great explainer and demonstrator.
I’m a fan of stationery and it was interesting to see the old and random stamps and designs. I also appreciated taking home a newly printed card made right in front of me.
Seaport Museum Memberships start at $50 and help support Museum’s exhibitions, preserve the ships and the collections, grow public programs, and serve over 12,000 students through education initiatives. To join the Museum as a Member, visit seaportmuseum.org/membership.
Though the South Street Seaport Museum’s indoor spaces remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tall ship Wavertree, lightship Ambrose, tugboat W.O. Decker, and the outdoor steps of Bowne & Co. are now welcoming visitors as part of our 2021 Season of Seaport Museum Open Days.
As of August 24, 2021, please note that in accordance with NYC Emergency Executive Order 225, proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose will be required to board W.O. Decker, Ambrose, and the lower decks and enclosed spaces of Wavertree for all guests ages 12 and older, and children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult. Proof of vaccination can be provided in the form of a physical immunization card, NY Excelsior Pass app, or the NYC COVID Safe app when you check in at the red welcome tent on Pier 16.
Additionally, in accordance with current Federal and New York State COVID-19 guidance, masks are required at all times onboard W.O. Decker, Ambrose, and Wavertree. Because of the nature of face-to-face proximity of watching the printing demonstrations, masks are also required at Bowne & Co. Face coverings are required for employees, and increased cleaning protocols are also in place.
Current COVID-19 protocols can be found at southstreetseaportmuseum.org/covid-19-updates.
The 130-year-old Wavertree, built of riveted wrought iron, is an archetype of the sailing ships of the latter half of the 19th century that, during the “age of sail,” lined South Street by the dozens, creating a forest of masts from the Battery to the Brooklyn Bridge. Built in Southampton, Great Britain, she circled the globe four times in her career, carrying a wide variety of cargoes. The ship called on New York in 1896, no doubt one of hundreds like her berthed in the city. In 1910, after thirty-five years of sailing, she was caught in a Cape Horn storm that tore down her masts and ended her career as a cargo ship. She was salvaged and used as a floating warehouse and then a sand barge in South America, where the waterfront workers referred to her as “el gran Valero,” the great sailing ship. She was saved by the Seaport Museum in 1968 and towed to New York to become the iconic centerpiece of the “Street of Ships” at South Street two years later. From 2015-2016, Wavertree underwent a $13 million restoration generously funded by New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs with support from the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, and Manhattan Borough President and managed by the Department of Design and Construction.
Lightship LV-87, also known as Ambrose, was built in 1907 as a floating lighthouse to guide ships safely from the Atlantic Ocean into the broad mouth of lower New York Bay between Coney Island, New York, and Sandy Hook, New Jersey—an area filled with sand bars and shoals perilous to approaching vessels. South Street Seaport Museum’s Ambroseoccupied her original station from her launching in 1908 until 1932. In 1921 Ambrose became the first lightship to be fitted with a radio beacon, greatly assisting navigation of the channel in poor visibility. In her role as navigational aid, she was also witness to the largest period of immigration in U.S. history, seeing some six million immigrants pass her station. After her half-century career, she was donated to the newly formed South Street Seaport Museum by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1968. Ambrose is permanently moored at Pier 16 and does not sail the harbor.
About W.O. Decker
The last surviving New York-built, wooden tugboat W.O. Decker was built in 1930 by the Newtown Creek Towing Company and originally named Russell I, after the towing company’s owners. She was renamed W.O. Decker in 1946 after being sold to the Decker family’s Staten Island tugboat firm. The tugboat was initially steam-powered and later refit with a diesel engine. She was donated to the Seaport Museum in 1986 and was refit with a diesel engine. W.O. Decker is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an exemplary model of the types of steam tugs that were once an abundant sight in New York Harbor. This unique vessel is a true testament to New York City’s maritime heritage, which is a direct factor in the city’s global prominence today.
About the South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the South Street Seaport Historic District in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Founded in 1967, the Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, exhibition galleries and education spaces, working nineteenth century print shops, and an active fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of “Where New York Begins.” www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org
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