New York City’s maritime past has left a visible mark on the buildings in lower Manhattan, where the bustling port of New York Harbor was once centered. From custom houses to shipping offices, maritime associations to fancy lunch clubs for shipping heirs, and buildings for ordinary mariners, discover the rich history offered by these buildings downtown.
Clustered around the Bowling Green area of Manhattan, these buildings offered commanding views of the harbor through which the shipping business was reliant upon. The interiors of many of these buildings were also designed with stunning art and architecture to reflect the historical heritage and wealth created from the maritime industry, all of which testify to New York’s preeminence as a port city at the time. Below are ten of the buildings that are a bridge to the city’s maritime past
Please also join us on an upcoming Tour of the Remnants of NYC’s Maritime Past led by Untapped Cities’ Chief Experience Officer, Justin Rivers:
1. Cunard Building
The Cunard Building opened in 1921 as the headquarters for the Cunard Steamship Line. Founded by Samuel Cunard in 1840, the company pioneered transatlantic travel and shipping. After World War I, however, the stream of emigrants from Europe thinned substantially and Cunard focused his attention on the luxury travel for tourists. The architect, Benjamin Wistar Morris, worked together with Ezra Winter and a number of other artists to employ extensive nautical iconography that was intended to entice customers and show the lure of sea travel.
Above the ticket counters, on the expansive domed ceiling of the Great Hall, are carvings and painted murals of the ships of great explorers, scenes of sirens and mermaids, and seascapes filled with leaping fish and dolphins. On the walls, large painted maps show the various routes that Cunard’s ships took. The Cunard Building’s ticket office was the largest in the country and was comparable to the luxurious waiting rooms of railway stations at the time. The first floor interior was granted landmark status in 1996. Today, it is used as a banquet hall and event venue run by Cipriani and often appears in filming locations, most recently in Succession on HBO.
The Cunard Building is located at 25 Broadway.