Before South Street Seaport: The lovely mess on the waterfront

Manhattan waterfront property, from Thomas Edison, circa May 1903: an uninterrupted swell of piers, tugs and steamships jutting into the water, the skyline obscured at camera angle by towers of masts. This short film starts immediately north of the Battery Maritime Building (next to the Whitehall Ferry Terminal) and scans the entire waterfront up to just south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In comparison, this area seems virtually empty today, with the heliport, a small ferry terminal (including the IKEA shuttle), the old Fulton Fish Market, and, of course, the grand monstrosity that is South Street Seaport and Water Taxi Beach.

This and many other old silent films documenting New York are available for view at The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906, made available by the Library of Congress.

1 reply on “Before South Street Seaport: The lovely mess on the waterfront”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *