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A Dream of Tall Ships

SSSBcoverSMA Dream of Tall Ships—How New Yorkers Came Together to Save the City’s Sailing-Ship Waterfront

By Peter and Norma Stanford

This lively account of a great urban adventure begins in the 1960s with two New Yorkers committed to creating a maritime museum in Manhattan’s old sailing-ship waterfront—the South Street Seaport Museum. Entranced by the old brick buildings of the Fulton Fish Market neighborhood and aware of the rush of new office-building construction in Lower Manhattan, they moved to save the old buildings as a historic district, and breathe new life into New York’s old Street of Ships.

The idea of recreating the old sailing-ship waterfront inspired young and old, rich and poor, Wall Streeters and blue-collar workers, seamen, firemen, policemen and teachers to work together to found a museum showcasing the streets and ships that built the port, which built the city, which built the nation.

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Peter and Norma Stanford share their story of those early days: forming the Friends of South Street; the very first visitors; the Schooner Race for the Mayor’s Cup; and the search for the ship that would become the heart of the museum, the Wavertree, rescued from retirement as a sand barge in Argentina. This is a story of a an intrepid band of New Yorkers fighting for the waterfront, for a reminder of New York’s identity as a city that grew great thanks to that waterfront and the wealth created by the ships sailing into and out of its harbor.

Hardcover, 596 pages, illustrated.  $25 + $6.95 s/h in US; call for international rates.

Read what people are saying about A Dream of Tall Ships:

“The Lover of White Sails,” book review, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Review: A Dream of Tall Ships,” Tugster

The plan to create a waterfront museum for New York went hand in hand with the idea of bringing historic ships and boats to the waterfront, to tell the story of the city’s maritime past. In a process that took years, they identified and brought back to New York the Wavertree, the iron-hulled Cape Horn veteran. Wavertree has recently gone into dry dock for restoration.

“Iron-Hulled Ship Makes a Short, but Crucial, Harbor Voyage,” New York Times

“Seaport Museum’s Wavertree ships off for $10 million restoration,” Downtown Express


Meet the new executive director of South Street Seaport Museum, former interim president Jonathan Boulware (Downtown Express)