Wednesday, March 14, 2012

South Street Seaport: the hidden history treasure of Lower Manhattan

Almost feel like San Francisco...
Walking in New York is sometimes – not to say often – marveling as you can turn one single street corner and suddenly see the landscape changing. 

This happened to me a few weeks ago when I was willingly getting lost in the streets of the Financial District; as I was walking on narrow streets among hundreds of businessmen and other busy New Yorkers, I wound up in this tiny, quiet and quite open old area: the South Street Seaport. With its West Coast inspired pier, charming cobblestone roads and red brick buildings, the place unexpectedly appeared to me like a breath of fresh sea air among the claustrophobic walls of downtown.

Rich history
Old buildings in the inland area
Adjacent to the Financial District, where Fulton Street meets the East River, the South Street Seaport is an important historic area of New York. The area, even if quite small, is home to some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan and features an important concentration of restored early 19th-century commercial buildings.

NYC's first seaport was originally a major mercantile center; as commerce moved north and west during the mid-19th century, it was transformed into a food supply center with, among other things, the famous Fulton fish market – which doesn’t exist anymore. 

With Fulton as its main street, the Seaport is now mostly a touristic area featuring a museum, numerous stores and restaurants as well as a modern market on the seafront. But as you walk in the streets, you can feel the place’s rich history.

Great views

The mall which I don’t know why, but strangely smells like sunscreen is not really interesting as it is mostly home to tourist shops. That said, it is worth a visit just to enjoy the beautiful view of the waterfront and the Brooklyn Bridge from the third floor balcony. I would also suggest you take a rest on a bench close to the water and contemplate the boats that pass.

View of the Brooklyn Bridge
from the shopping mall 3rd floor balcony
Another interesting fact: The original Sub Pop version of Nirvana's In Bloom video was filmed in South Street Seaport in 1990.

I honestly just can’t figure out how come I have never heard about this place before.

What are your favorite hidden spots in the City?

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