Tuesday, 3 March 2009


Situated on landfill extending 600 feet beyond the original shoreline, these six counting houses were built at the East River end of Fulton Street as a speculative venture by the merchant and ship owner Peter Schermerhorn in 1812. Designed to serve the modest sailing ship trade and small business economy of the early 19th century New York, these buildings are among the best surviving examples of the counting house type. Counting houses on Manhattan's East River served as warehouse and distribution facilities for the array of imported goods that began to pour into a rapidly growing New York. Precursors of the New York office building, counting houses were an architectural adaptation of residential row houses to commercial purposes.

The map above shows Schermerhorn Row marked no.1 and shows its positioning within The South Street Seaport Museum complex - a unique visitor attraction affording spectacular views of the East River and its traffic, Brooklyn Bridge, and the skyscrapers of the Downtown Financial District.

The decline in the shipping trade led to the buildings being neglected for decades until the city and state authorities starting in 1974 focused on Schermerhorn Row in the effort to revitalize the historic Seaport District. The now carefully and painstakingly restored counting houses provide new commercial space and exhibit areas and The South Street Seaport district is now one of NYC's premier tourist destination, with Schermerhorn Row as its centerpiece.

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