Street of Ships: The Port and Its People

On View | 11am – 5pm | Wed – Sun | Included with Admission

Street of ships is an exhibition located in the entrance to the ground floor of the main Museum building. It showcases selected works of art, artifacts, and reproductions from the Museum’s permanent collection and archives related to the 19th-century history of the Port of New York and examines the decisive role played by the 19th-century seaport at South Street. The South Street Seaport was long known as the “Street of Ships” with its waterfront lined with sailing ships laden with goods from all over the world, creating a forest of masts from the Battery to the Brooklyn Bridge. The South Street Seaport secured New York’s place as America’s largest city and home to what would become one of the world’s busiest ports by the start of the 20th century. 

Also examined in this display is the life of the Museum’s flagship Wavertree, an 1885 full-rigged cargo sailing ship recently back from a $13 million city-funded restoration. Before heading to Pier 16 to board Wavertree, visitors can learn about the history of this archetype of the impressive sailing ships that once called at South street and made New York a world port and hub of global trade.

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Theodore W. Scull, and Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Co., with additional support provided by Susan Kayser & Duane Morris LLP in memory of Salvatore Polisi, and Laura and Steven Kalil. It is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


By subway:

  • Take the A, C, 2, 3, J, Z, 4, or 5 train to Fulton Street.
  • Upon exiting, walk east on Fulton Street until you reach the museum. Depending on where you exit, the walk takes between 8 and 15 minutes.

By bus:

  • Take the M-15 SBS or M-15 to Fulton Street. Note: On the M-15 SBS, you must pay at the bus stop before boarding.
  • Walk one block east.

By ferry:

  • The East River Ferry, Water Taxi, and New York Waterway provide service to Pier 11 from Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey.
  • From Pier 11, walk north on South Street for about 5 minutes.
  • Once at Fulton Street, turn left. The Visitor Center (12 Fulton Street) is about a half block west.
  • From the Staten Island Ferry, the museum is about a mile walk Northeast on Water or South Street.


  • Parking in the area is limited. There is a parking lot located at Front and John Streets, just one block from the museum. Another lot is available at 294 Pearl Street.
    *As we are located in an historic district please contact the museum regarding accessibility needs prior to your visit