July 22, 2019
Bowne & Co. Stationers, which the South Street Seaport Museum bills as the city’s “oldest operating business under the same name,” has been a presence in Lower Manhattan since 1775. That year, Robert Bowne opened a dry goods and stationery store at 39 Queen Street. Following the American Revolution, Bowne & Co. grew along with the Port of New York, providing the advertising, stationary, and financial printing that made it possible for life and commerce at the port to function and thrive. Because New York’s printers were responsible for printing everything from stock certificates to tugboat notices, steamship broadsides to cargo invoices, fishmongers’ business cards to bankers’ prospectuses, the industry helped the city emerge as the world’s busiest port, and its preeminent financial center.