South Street Seaport Museum was paid a visit by Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Hon. Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl visited the restored 1885 sailing ship Wavertree for a tour of the recently renovated flagship. The trio, with Captain Jonathan Boulware, executive director of the museum, even helped students of The Spruce Street School students set sails!
Part of the city’s series, City Hall in Your Borough, the Mayor’s visit included a walk below decks to view the completed restoration, with a guided tour by Captain Boulware. The restoration of Wavertree marked a new and exciting course for the South Street Seaport Museum.
“The South Street Seaport reminds New Yorkers of our City’s deeply anchored maritime roots,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I am thrilled to see the museum and Wavertree in true ship-shape thanks to the recent renovations, which will keep the wind in the sails of education and preserve this heritage for many more decades to come.”
“The South Street Seaport is the city’s oldest standing neighborhood, and its heart is the Seaport Museum,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m glad Mayor de Blasio was able to join me to see first-hand what this institution has to show us about our heritage, and why it’s critical that the museum and its historic vessels like the Wavertree continue to preserve our history and bring it alive for generations of New Yorkers and visitors to come.”
“It was great to climb aboard the Wavertree with the Mayor and Borough President to learn more about the assets of this important institution from Captain Jonathan Boulware” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “We look forward to working with the Seaport Museum to tell the story of New York’s maritime history for many years to come.”
Capt. Jonathan Boulware, Executive Director of the Seaport Museum, spoke enthusiastically about the visit. “This Seaport Museum tells the story of the first chapter of modern New York. Our mayor is enthusiastic about the story and about the historic ships and buildings that tell that story. Our programming is interactive and the mayor jumped right in; he helped a group of 2nd graders from Spruce Street School (PS 397) to raise the sails. It’s heartening that the mayor and the Manhattan Borough President are so enthusiastic about where New York begins and the Museum that interprets it.”
The 1885 ship Wavertree has a well-documented and fascinating history. Built in Southampton, Great Britain, she circled the Earth four times in her career, carrying a wide variety of cargoes. The ship called on New York in 1895, no doubt one of hundreds like her berthed in the city. In 1910, after twenty-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, because even without her masts she was obviously a great windjammer. 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. The 132-year-old Wavertree, built of riveted wrought iron, is an archetype of the sailing cargo 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. The $13 million restoration of Wavertree was managed by the Department of Design and Construction, and fully funded through the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs with support from the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, and Manhattan Borough President’s Office. Restoration work took place at the Caddell Dry Dock in Staten Island. Five months out of the water were spent on extensive hull repairs; along with replacement of two of the ship’s decks and a massive rigging restoration, the project returned the vessel to the condition she was in when she last sailed in 1910.
ABOUT SOUTH STREET SEAPORT MUSEUM
The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the historic Seaport district in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Designated by Congress as America’s National Maritime Museum, the Museum houses 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.”