Ok you’ve taken the ferry to Manhattan, it’s been a great ride, you’ve eaten at Stone Street, walked Wall Street, gone to Ground Zero, and now the question is: what to do next? You would like to go to a museum, but the really good ones are all the way uptown. Well, how about a few smaller, lesser known ones in walking distance from the ferry! Check these ones out.
The South Seaport Museum is an often-overlooked museum. Most people don’t even know it’s there. It’s right at 12 Fulton Street, in the Seaport Street Mall. But you need to know that it is only open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Its paintings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries depict a maritime New York that is long gone, but worth remembering. When you are finished with this boutique museum, take a stroll past the pop-up bar on Fulton Street, north on Front Street to Jeremy’s Ale House. Great burgers and affordable buckets of beer, what could be better?
Retrace your steps back down Front Street and go across Water Street ‘til you get to Broad Street, there you’ll find the next museum in Fraunces Tavern. If you go upstairs you’ll be treated to some great colonial history pieces and to the long room that General George Washington bade farewell to his staff at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. There is a tour and the docents are very well versed in the history. Of course, there is a bar downstairs, and history can conjure up quite a thirst so wander into the Whiskey Bar and try a flight with some oysters, I mean you are on Pearl Street, and you now know why it was named so. But did you know that across the street at 85 Broad Street, the former home of Goldman Sachs, there stood the site of the Dutch town hall in the 1600’s! True!
Next stop, walk west on Stone Street, to the Smithsonian Museum in the old Custom House on Whitehall Street across from Bowling Green. This museum sits on the beginning of the old Algonquin trade route known then as the Wiechquaekeck Trail, or as we know it: Broadway! The museum is dedicated to the American Indians. You’ll recognize the building from the Ghost Busters movie when it was covered in slime! The architecture of the building is spectacular, and is built upon the ruins of the old Dutch Fort. The inside is amazing with a terrific center hall, and the displays on the American Indians are instructive.
If you walk up to Rector Street on Broadway and go west toward the Hudson you will hit the China Institute on Rector off Washington Street. This relatively new addition has a fine collection of ancient Chinese art from the 5th and 6th centuries. It’s open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you head back up to Broadway and walk uptown to Duane Street, housed in a new federal building is the African Burial Grounds museum. Just remember it’s closed on Mondays and open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. When the Feds were building this building, they realized that it was actually an archeological dig containing the remains of over 15,000 African Americans, who were buried here outside the Wall at Wall Street. Although lower Manhattan was the site of a large, free community of African Americans, New York had the ugly history of being a slave trade port right at the foot of Wall Street. This is an excellent exhibit highlighting this overlooked part of NY history. Speaking of which, while in the Seaport Area you may notice some pop-up signs about the Black Experience in colonial NY. On Front Street, next to the TKTS booth, there is a pop-up storefront that houses Black Gotham curated by Kamau Ware, a former tour director at the Tenant Museum. He is leading walking tours and exhibits about black history in colonial New York. Well worth stopping and talking to Kamau.
It’s a long walk back to the ferry, at this point maybe grab a cab back to Pier 11, get on line for the ferry, and when you get aboard, grab yourself a beer, it’s been a long, historical day, and you deserve a break on your ride back to the beach!