South Street Seaport Museum Offers FREE Entry to 1885 Tall Ship Wavertree
September 5, 6, 12, 19 and 26
South Street Seaport Museum will open the 1885 tall ship Wavertree to the public on September 5, 6, 12, 19 and 26 with timed entry, from 11am-5pm at Pier 16 (Fulton and South Streets). Entry is FREE and includes access to the ship’s outdoor areas, including the main deck (via stairs and an angled gangway) and raised rear deck (accessible via ladder-type stairs). seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree
President and CEO, Capt. Jonathan Boulware says, “The Seaport Museum is thrilled to welcome back visitors to our historic ship Wavertree on select days in September. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept New Yorkers at home for the last five months, and now we are pleased to safely open the outdoor spaces of our flagship at no cost to our community, which has been so steadfast in supporting our work during this time. With new protocols in place to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff, we look forward to welcoming you on board in the coming weeks.”
Guests will visit the open-air portions of the historic traditional sailing ship docked at Pier 16. Gaze up at the towering masts and miles of rigging and down into the vast cargo storage area. Take a peek at the galley and at the crew’s quarters, a bunk room where twenty sailors tried to stay warm and dry in the worst weather. 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 Wavertree which brought in the goods that helped businesses thrive. 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. More information on the history of the Wavertree can be found at southstreetseaportmuseum.org/wavertree.
Visits will be self-guided along a set route. The Museum will allow no more than 35 guests on board the ship at any time to encourage social distancing from different households. All guests above the age of two will be required to wear a face covering at all times aboard Wavertree and at the Museum’s Open-air pop-up gift shop booth on Pier 16.
The Seaport Museum is also offering a new, 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.
South Street Seaport Museum active Members and Volunteers will have the opportunity to be among the first to visit Wavertree and the outdoor exhibition on Member and Volunteer Preview Day, Saturday, August 29, from 11am to 5pm. 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.
The South Street Seaport Museum’s indoor spaces are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wavertree is permanently moored at Pier 16 and does not sail the harbor. Access to Wavertree requires climbing a small set of ladder-type [to match description above] stairs and an angled gangway. Wavertree Open Days are subject to cancellation in the event of severe weather.
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, Wavertreeunderwent 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.
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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