WAVERTREE of 1885 Returns To South Street Seaport Museum

South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan celebrates the return of the 1885 full-rigged ship WAVERTREE

Photo by Andy C in 2008, WAVERTREE before restoration. Creative Commons 3.0
Photo by Andy C in 2008, WAVERTREE before restoration. Creative Commons 3.0

Date of arrival: September 24, 2016 from 1pm to 6pm at Pier 16 in the East River (Fulton and South Streets), NYC.

South Street Seaport Museum announces the triumphant return of the restored 1885 full-rigged cargo sailing ship WAVERTREE

Press release from Museum:

“Don’t miss the grand return of the Seaport Museum’s mighty flagship after her 16-month,  $13 million restoration funded by the City of New York. Join for festivities, including live music, a mobile letterpress print shop and educational activities.

The Seaport Museum will welcome the vessel with traditional maritime fanfare, including fireboats spraying water, a bell-ringing, flag raising, and a cheer to the ship and will host a lineup of special guests including Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Council Member Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora of the NYC Department of Design and Construction, and Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, to help welcome her home to her berth at Pier 16.

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the Seaport Museum and the restoration of Wavertree: “In New York’s earliest days, the waterfront teemed with tall ships bringing people from all over the globe to the shores of our city,” said Mayor de Blasio. “With the return of the Wavertree, we are proud to welcome back a living piece of that maritime heritage. With this remarkable ship docked at the South Street Seaport Museum, we encourage all New Yorkers to reconnect with the history of commerce, trade, and immigration that made our city such a diverse, dynamic place. Thanks to this one-of-a-kind restoration project, there’s no better place to explore the many ways people, goods, and ideas have arrived in New York across the ages.”

The following Thursday, September 29, the museum will provide supporters the first opportunity to climb aboard the restored Wavertree for a cocktail reception, laying the groundwork for Wavertree’s activation as a destination and educational platform and will provide needed operational funding for the Museum’s activities. For more information or to purchase tickets, email info@seany.org. or visit, https://southstreetseaportmuseum.org/wavertree-returns-to-the-seaport-museum/.

The 1885 ship Wavertree has a well-documented and fascinating history. Built in Southampton, Great Britain, she circled the Earth 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 thirty-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, because even without her masts she was obviously a great windjammer. 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. The 130-year-old Wavertree, built of riveted wrought iron, is an archetype of the sailing cargo 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. The $13 million restoration of Wavertree was managed by the Department of Design and Construction, and fully funded through the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs with support from the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, and Manhattan Borough President’s Office. Restoration work took place at the Caddell Dry Dock in Staten Island. Five months out of the water were spent on extensive hull repairs; along with replacement of two of the ship’s decks and a massive rigging restoration , the project will return the vessel to the condition she was in when she last sailed in 1910.

Speaking in glowing terms of the project, the Museum’s director Captain Jonathan Boulware said, “No city in the US has ever undertaken a comparable municipally-funded restoration of a sailing ship. With the restoration of Wavertree, New York pays due respect to its maritime heritage, engages current New Yorkers in their waterways, and lays the groundwork for education programming that will inform future generations. Wavertree is the very type of ship that made New York New York. Wavertree is our city’s ship and we’re thrilled to welcome her back to the Museum, back to the Street of Ships.”

Onboard event “A TOAST TO WAVERTREE | Flagship of the Museum Fleet and Pride of New York City” 

Special event, Thursday, September 29, 2016 | 6:30-8:30pm | Aboard Wavertree 

Purchase your ticket today to be among the first to step aboard southstreetseaportmuseum.org/toasttowavertree/

The Seaport Museum thanks the Mayor of the City of New York, New York City Council, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Manhattan Borough President, and NYC Department of Design and Construction for their immense support of the Wavertree restoration project.


South Street Seaport Museum is a non-profit cultural institution located in the heart of the historic Seaport district in New York City. Founded in 1967, the South Street Seaport Museum preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Designated by Congress as America’s National Maritime Museum, the Museum houses galleries and education spaces, working nineteenth century print shops, a maritime library, a maritime craft center, and a fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of “Where New York Begins.”

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