On March 14, 2013, the New York City Council heard testimonies from various parties regarding the new development of the South Street Seaport by the Howard Hughes Corporation. While the hearing was meant to center around the proposed plans of the new Pier 17, concern was voiced for the future of the historical buildings in the area as well as the effect future renovations might have on area businesses such as the New Amsterdam Market.
On March 20, the Council’s Sub-committee on Zoning and Franchises and its Land Use Committee approved the HHC's application for the redevelopment of Pier 17 (a $200 million dollar plan) providing they comply with modifications that ensure the preservation of the historical buildings and the businesses that utilize them.
The testimonies of Wall Street Walks and other concerned parties no doubt proved instrumental in highlighting these concerns and ultimately modifying the deal so that the South Street Seaport could be "saved."
The following is our testimony from that day:
March 14, 2013
To the members of the City Council:
I own and operate “Wall Street Walks," a New York walking Tour Company focused solely on Lower Manhattan's history, the neighborhood, and its landmarks and museums.
I would like to speak about the significance of two city-owned landmarks, the Fulton Fish Market Tin Building (1907) and New Market Building (1939).
Markets are part of a centuries-old tradition. Long before the construction of the F.D.R. Drive or even the Brooklyn Bridge, the Fulton Market was the largest and most important food showcase in Greater New York. Indeed, locals have been buying and selling fish (and meat, cheese and produce) along this stretch of East River shoreline since the mid-1600's, when the first food markets of New Amsterdam sprung up around the ferry landing at Peck Slip.
Commercial development will promise employment and tax dollars to the city, but it cannot do justice to the neighborhood’s storied past. Will the development by the Howard Hughes Corporation, or any corporation in the future, be sensitive to the history of the area?
The Fulton Fish Market Tin Building and the New Market Building buildings are of national significance. They could be restored & dedicated as a new wholesale and retail markets. Please protect and preserve these buildings.
The Highline development has changed the meat packing district into a premier New York destination. The Fulton Fish Market Tin Building and New Market Building could do the same for the Seaport area. It could solidify the South Street Seaport as another premier destination for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world.
Owner and President
Wall Street Walks