South Street Seaport Museum announces FREE tours of the 1908 lightship Ambrose every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from August 6, 2021 through October 10, 2021. The ship will run four tours each day, departing at 11:30am, 2:30pm, 3:30pm and 4:00pm from Pier 16. To book a free tour and for more information, visit seaportmuseum.org/ambrose.
Ambrose is the first vessel to join the Seaport Museum's fleet and the very first lightship to guard the only shipping channel in and out of the ports of New York and New Jersey—the Ambrose Channel. As part of the Seaport Museum's general admission, visitors can tour the multiple decks of this National Historic Landmark and see the living and working spaces once inhabited by sailors stationed on Ambrose. The launch of the tours coincides with the anniversary of Ambrose's August 5, 1968 arrival at the Museum.
Guided tours last approximately 30 minutes. Advance reservations are recommended. Guests must check in 15 minutes before the tour. Access to Ambrose requires walking up an angled gangway. Stairs lead to the lower decks. Mask wearing is required for visitors aboard Ambrose unless fully vaccinated. Based on current guidance from the World Health Organization, mask wearing is encouraged for all.
Lightship LV-87, also known as Ambrose, was built in 1907 as a floating lighthouse to guide ships safely from the Atlantic Ocean into the broad mouth of lower New York Bay between Coney Island, New York, and Sandy Hook, New Jersey—an area filled with sand bars and shoals perilous to approaching vessels. South Street Seaport Museum's Ambroseoccupied her original station from her launching in 1908 until 1932. In 1921 Ambrose became the first lightship to be fitted with a radio beacon, greatly assisting navigation of the channel in poor visibility. In her role as navigational aid, she was also witness to the largest period of immigration in U.S. history, seeing some six million immigrants pass her station. After her half-century career, she was donated to the newly formed South Street Seaport Museum by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1968. Ambrose is permanently moored at Pier 16 and does not sail the harbor.
Also available as part of the South Street Seaport Museum's summer schedule are free tours of the historic tall ship Wavertree and free demonstrations by Bowne & Co. letterpress printers; plus tugboat rides aboard the W.O. Decker are available for purchase. For more information, visit seaportmuseum.org.
W.O. Decker Sails
Take an exciting 75-minute ride on the last surviving New York-built wooden tugboat W.O. Decker, recently named "Tugboat of the Year" by the Steamship Historical Society of America. Cruises will explore the New York Harbor, and views may include the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Battery, and Governors Island, as you set out on an adventure unlike any you've had before! Tickets to ride are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors/students, and $15 for kids (must be 10 years of age or older to board) and are available for purchase at seaportmuseum.org/decker.
The 1885 tall ship Wavertree is now open through October 10, 2021 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with timed entry, from 11am-5pm at Pier 16 (Fulton and South Streets). Entry is FREE and includes access to the ship's outdoor areas, including the main deck and raised rear deck, and the cargo hold. To learn more and reserve tickets, visit seaportmuseum.org/visitwavertree.
Bowne & Co. Demonstrations
Bowne & Co. is hosting FREE outdoor letterpress printing demonstrations through October 10, 2021 on Fridays and Saturdays. The printers will set up a selection of historic presses outdoors on the steps of 209-211 Water Street. Demonstrations will take place every hour on the hour between 11am-5pm and each will run from five to seven minutes long, illustrating the 19th century printing process with a variety of presses and equipment from the Museum's Printing History Collection. Items printed throughout the day will be given away as tangible reminders of the experience. Bowne & Co. public programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Alongside demonstrations, new products are now available for purchase from Bowne & Co., Stationers in the online shop at bowne.co, including new lines of letterpress-made postcards, broadsides and boxed notecard sets.
About W.O. Decker
The last surviving New York built, wooden tugboat (originally steam powered and later refit with a diesel engine) W.O. Decker was built in 1930 by the Newtown Creek Towing Company and originally named Russell I, after the towing company's owners. She was renamed W.O. Decker in 1946 after being sold to the Decker family's Staten Island tugboat firm. The tugboat was donated to the Seaport Museum in 1986. W.O. Decker is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an exemplary model of the types of steam tugs that were once an abundant sight in New York Harbor. This unique vessel is a true testament to New York City's maritime heritage, which is a direct factor in the city's global prominence today.
The 130-year-old Wavertree, built of riveted wrought iron, is an archetype of the sailing 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. Built in Southampton, Great Britain, she circled the globe four times in her career, carrying a wide variety of cargoes. The ship called on New York in 1896, 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. 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 two years later. From 2015-2016, Wavertree underwent a $13 million restoration generously funded by New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs with support from the Mayor's Office, the City Council, and Manhattan Borough President and managed by the Department of Design and Construction.
About Bowne & Co.
Bowne & Co. was established by Robert Bowne in 1775 and is New York's oldest operating business under the same name. By 1900, New York City boasted over 700 printing offices. Most were located in Lower Manhattan and the South Street Seaport Historic District to facilitate shipping, trade and finance. Maritime trade industries-growing each year as their goods reached the entire country through the Erie Canal-found themselves in need of a flurry of printed materials for conducting business, causing the demand for stationery, invoices, advertisements and other printed materials. In 1975, Bowne & Co. Inc. partnered with the Seaport Museum to open a 19th-century-style print shop at 211 Water Street in the South Street Seaport Historic District. Today, in addition to the letterpress printing collection, Bowne & Co. embodies the spirit of a turn-of-the-century store that is unique, eclectic and like none other in the city. bowne.co
About the South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the South Street Seaport Historic District in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Founded in 1967, the Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, 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." http://www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org
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