The news this week from the South Street Seaport Museum was good. The Museum’s Bowne Stationers has reopened its doors after being flooded by Superstorm Sandy. There had been serious concern that the 19th century type and letterpress equipment might be seriously damaged or destroyed by the flood. A small army of volunteers, however, successfully dried and cleaned the type and have cleaned and restocked the store so that it can reopen. Much of the rest of the South Street Seaport Museum remains closed,but they are working toward reopening as soon as possible.
Other news was not as good. Real estate executives are speculating whether the major flooding damage will sink the seaport, at least economically if not literally. The concern is that the repairs and renovations will be so extensive and take so long to complete that the tourists will move on to other areas in the city. If the tourists no longer come to the shopping areas at South Street, the consequences for the seaport museum could be dire as well.
Several weeks after Superstorm Sandy flooded large sections of downtown Manhattan I passed by the South Street Seaport. The PATH trains to lower Manhattan were still flooded out and I had taken the Ferry to Pier 11 on the East River. When I walked by the Heartland Brewery on South Street was was stunned to see the waterline from the flood on the windows. The line of the flooding was at least two feet above my head, or about eight feet above the level of the sidewalk. Looking at all the boarded up shops and restaurants, the scope of the damage is breathtaking.