The South Street Seaport, an area for decades dismissed as "just for tourists," has re-emerged in the forefront of New Yorkers' minds as architects, preservations and local residents wrestle over the waterfront of the future.
Most agree that the Seaport needs to evolve and be re-knitted back into the life of the city while preserving its history, but there is broad disagreement on how to do that.
Today, the Seaport is a hive of tourists, with more than 4 million people visiting per year, more than even the Statue of Liberty.
But it feels cut-off from the rest of the city, a place reserved for visitors only, according to Heather Mangrum, an architect who is leading an "ideas competition" for young architects with the American Institute of Architects to re-imagine the area.
Changes in store for South Street Seaport
Oh here we go. We already have something nice, a throwback to our past, but it's not good enough for AIA. I know you want your membership to have projects to work on, but give me a break.
Hoards of Wall Streeters visit the seaport at lunchtime or after work, and the Financial District is becoming more residential, which is bringing locals to the pier more frequently. Several times a year, I visit the Seaport with friends, as many other city residents do. So it's not "just for tourists". Pier 17, which is targeted for replacement, has become iconic in itself.
Despite the millions of people who visit each year, the city probably feels that the Seaport could become an even bigger cash cow. But this idea that a neighborhood isn't a vital part of the city unless it has luxury condos built throughout it really has to go.