Bowne & Co. Stationers today, via Flickr cc
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.
It’s Fleet Week, and New York is awash in sailors. If you’re moved by all the festivities and want to get in on the maritime merriment, there are sites exploring New York’s links to the sea throughout all five boroughs. From barges to schooners to yachts to dry docks, here are 10 sites where you can celebrate New York’s seafaring spirit.
Check them all out
The South Street Seaport Museum may not be one of New York City’s glitziest institutions, but it’s certainly one of the most resilient and perhaps the one most closely tied to the founding of the city itself. Using actual historic buildings and ships to provide interactive exhibits and educational programs, the museum tells the story of New York’s rise as a port city and how that led to the development of the entire country. But the seaport location became all too real in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the entire historic district, leaving the museum with $20 million in damages and the loss of its institutional partner, the Museum of the City of New York.
Now, three years later, the South Street Seaport Museum is sailing into new territory, thanks in large part to its recently appointed executive director Captain Jonathan Boulware, a lifelong sailor, marine educator, expert in historic ships, and all-around lover of maritime history and culture. In August, Boulware and his team landed a $10.4 million FEMA grant to repair the storm damage, and in May, the museum launched a $10.6 million city-funded project to restore Wavertree, one of the museum’s most significant historic ships. With these exciting developments underway, we caught up with Captain Boulware to learn a bit about his background, what visitors can expect at the museum, and where the institution is heading.
Read the interview