New York City's History Through the South Street Seaport

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Captain Jonathan Boulware, President & CEO of South Street Seaport, to discover how the history of New York is tethered to the port.

6/4/19 #2225






"One on One is pleased to welcome Capt. Jonathan Boulware who is the President and CEO of the South Street Seaport Museum. How you doing? I'm great. It's good to be here. Let's get this out of the way right away. I said "Captain"? Yeah. Captain. Explain it. Well, I'm a sailing ship captain. I'm actually licensed for all kinds of things, but my background is in traditional sailing ships, which, in the modern world, mostly carry students. And that's what my background is. And my dad was a captain before me also, sailing ships. So in that way I'm a little bit of an oddity. But what's more odd about it is that in New York, 100 years ago from where we're sitting right now, you could hit 10 captains with a biscuit. Right? Now? It's a... now? Very few. Right? There are those on the ferries, and those in the commercial waterways. The port has mostly moved over toward New Jersey, and people are less aware of it, but New York is what it is because it was a port, and it's still a port. A port city? Yeah. A port city. "The" port city, frankly. The? Yeah. Well, you know, it's New York. It's the greatest city in the world. Alright. I appreciate it. I'm from Jersey, but I appreciate being here. Yeah. Because this is where it's happening. But I'm curious about this. The museum? Yeah? Talk about it. So the museum is a bit of preserved New York, and we are... we're actually place based. Place matters for what we do. And in fact where we are is the original port of New York. It's the place where Dutch New Amsterdam became New York City. And when you think about the kind of iconic phrases of New York, you think about the identity of New York, most of those identities that people think of are actually vested in the original port itself. So think of a phrase that typifies New York. Because now I'm thinking... "the city that never sleeps".Perfect. The first 24-hour district right down there on the street of ships between the Battery and the Brooklyn Bridge. Think of another one. New York, New York? Okay. If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. [laughter] What do you...? There is the business of the port. That's what actually drove to Wall Street... all the stuff up here, like Times Square and Fifth Avenue, everything was a growth... Right. ...northward from the original city down below Wall Street, which had a wall on it originally when it was Dutch New Amsterdam. But when you think about all of the things that typify New York, the city that never sleeps, or... Right. ...if I..."