History of South Street Seaport
During the 19th century, South Street Seaport was a working pier from which the city's fishermen would depart each morning and where they would return with the day's catch each afternoon. At the time, most New Yorkers lived in the lower part of Manhattan and a market grew up around the docks. Eventually, it included a produce and grain market as well as many general merchants. By the end of the century, however, cargo ships had grown too large for the docks at South Street and the fishing fleet -- and the market -- moved up the Hudson River. The area languished for decades.
The South Street Seaport that we see today was the brainchild of New York philanthropists, Peter and Norma Stanford. The initial idea was to save a block of 19th century Federalist-style warehouses, known as the "Schermerhorn Row." The plan was to create a living museum where residents and visitors could learn about life in 19th century New York. The area began modestly in 1967, then grew slowly. Pier 17 was added in 1983. The area now includes shopping, nightclubs, and an amusement pier with a variety of carnival rides. During the summer months, street entertainers -- clowns, jugglers, mimes, and musicians -- gather at the Seaport to perform for the crowd.