South Street Seaport with Brooklyn Bridge in distance, circa 1900. Photo via Detroit Photographic Company in public domain from Wikimedia Commons
In the 1860s, New York City was growing into one of the country’s and world’s most important port cities, with the South Street Seaport being a big part of that origin story. Many ships have come and gone through here, carrying goods from all around the world. Since the 1960s, the South Street Seaport Museum has held on its famous “Street of Ships” many world famous ships, and some of the last remaining ships of their kind. In honor of the forthcoming departure of the Peking, and the arrival of the Wavertree in a few months, here is a list of ships that have either been a part of the museum, or have simply been a notable location that particular ships have at some point docked.
11. Schooner Pioneer
One of six ships separate from the South Street Seaport Museum, the Pioneer was built in 1885 as a sloop (sailboat with single mast) in Pennsylvania to carry sand mined from a place near the mouth of the Delaware Bay to an iron foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania. 10 years later, she was re-rigged as a schooner, a sailing vessel with two or more masts on it. Today, it stands at 102-feet long.
Schooners were the kind of delivery truck back before the days of paved roads, carrying various kinds of goods between coastal communities. Typically, all American sloops and schooners were made of wood. But the Pioneer was built in the country’s center of iron shipbuilding and so was fitted with a wrought-iron hull. This was the first of only two iron-built cargo sloops in this country, and the only iron-hulled merchant vessel still in existence.
In 1930, the vessel was moved from Delaware to Massachusetts and was fitted with an engine without sails. But in 1966, she was substantially rebuilt and converted back into a sailing vessel again. Today, the vessel carrying visitors around the waters of Lower Manhattan.