Events & News

Preserving South Street Seaport: A Book Talk

April 21, 2014
7:00 p.m.
The Paris Cafe

The Archive Project joined the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Historic Districts Council, the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance, and NYU Press to celebrate the publication of James M. Lindgren’s new book, Preserving South Street Seaport: The Dream and Reality of a New York Urban Renewal District. Lindgren is a professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh and and the author of several books and essays on preservation. “Preserving South Street Seaport: A Book Talk” was generously hosted by The Paris Café, first opened in 1873 and frequented by such personages as Thomas Edison and Theodore Roosevelt.

Over pub fare and happy-hour drinks, over 150 attendees were regaled with Lindgren’s account of the complex and fascinating struggle to preserve the character of Lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. Soon after the enactment of the New York City Landmarks Law in 1965, preservationists mobilized to protect this remnant of the City’s fabled 19th-century port by transforming it into a community-based “museum without walls.” From the founding of the South Street Seaport Museum and the designation of the historic district to the crushing blows of 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy, Lindgren’s presentation chronicled the tenuous rebirth of the neighborhood, including the acquisition of ships, real estate market booms and collapses, controversial developments, and years of often conflicting efforts by preservationists, developers, bankers, politicians, and museum administrators. Lindgren concluded with a discussion of some of the most recent proposals moving forward at the Seaport, leaving the audience questioning what will happen to this unique piece of New York City history. Attendees gained both a greater knowledge of this dynamic neighborhood, and a better understanding of the process of urban renewal as it pertains to New York City’s distinctive waterfront and the special history these areas exhibit.

This program was part of the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance celebration of the 50th anniversary of the NYC Landmarks Law.

The Paris Cafe
119 South Street
New York, NY 10038
Google Maps

Above: Schemerhorn Row, 1981; Courtesy of HABS