South Street Seaport hooks high-end shoppers with $731M makeover

South Street Seaport hooks high-end shoppers with $731M makeover

The South Street Seaport — an East River-side neighborhood now known as the Seaport District — has seen many lives.

Beginning as a Dutch West India Company outpost in the 17th century, then famed for being the longtime home to the Fulton Fish Market, it would give way to a tourist-heavy shopping mall-style atmosphere that Financial District locals avoided. But today, the area has taken a high-gloss turn (thanks to an ongoing $731 million makeover).

New attractions now include the plush iPic cinema, and the modern, glassy Pier 17 building, which replaced the former barn-looking structure on the pier. Even Jean-Georges is planning to open a spot here.

But the area is still home to several businesses open for over a century that add history and charm. Read on to see what’s new — and what’s old.


Italian import 10 Corso Como sells upscale home goods.

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south-street-seaport-sjp1a.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=568 A collection of SJP shoes from Sarah Jessica Parker.

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Milan-based 10 Corso Como made a big splash in September when it opened its first US location — a nearly 28,000-square-foot space in one of the former Fulton Fish Market buildings (1 Fulton St.). The result: A sprawling shop and restaurant, where visitors can browse fancy wares — including a store collaboration with Birkenstock, whose leather sandals cost $240; Diptyque candles (from $65); and an array of art books, like a $65 Guy Bourdin anthology. Through Sunday, there’s also a free in-store Helmut Newton photography exhibit. “I love … the variety,” says 22-year-Abraham Mitchell, from Brooklyn, on a recent, first-time visit. “They have so much, and it’s set up in a nice way.”

Before the recent re-do, souvenir T-shirts were among the most prevalent fashion items available in the neighborhood. Now, you can browse Roberto Cavalli’s wares at a boutique that opened in September (205 Front St.). Statement items for men and women include an $895 black denim jacket with a bald eagle graphic on the back and a $2,875 leather skirt. For less expensive, but still bold, looks, Cynthia Rowley unveiled a new shop in October at 16 Fulton St. — where options include a $595 sequin skirt.

For the celebrity touch, the star of “Sex and the City” brought her eponymous SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker brand to a corner shop at 93 South St. in September. Inside, heels (from $350) line the walls in a variety of colors — and some even sparkle. “We wanted to create a space that felt like a cross between walking into something glittery like a Fabergé egg but also the ideal walk-in closet,” Parker told Vogue.


south-street-seaport-cobble2a.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=568 Buffalo cauliflower at Cobble & Co.

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south-street-seaport-chloe-inset1a.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=568 By Chloe has outdoor seating and delectable desserts.

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The Seaport, especially in the ’90s, was a popular happy-hour hub for the local 9-to-5 crowd. Now, drink and dining options are edging more upscale — making for destination dining. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will reportedly bring a seafood restaurant there late this year. For now, you can still head to a handful of newcomers for sips and bites. Set apart from the fashions and home goods, 10 Corso Como houses a spacious blue-toned Italian restaurant — where visitors can grab staples like an Aperol spritz ($17), spaghetti bottarga ($22) and tiramisu ($10).

Looking for more of a pub feel? Across the street, Cobble & Co. (19 Fulton St.) — which debuted its industrial-chic bar and eatery in September — offers 18 beers on tap and dishes including beer-battered onion rings for $7 and Buffalo cauliflower for $10. “It’s so cool to be down [at the Seaport] — it’s so lively,” says Upper East Side resident Karen Fogarty, who split a $14 classic cheeseburger at Cobble & Co. with a friend on a recent Saturday.

Even vegans can grab their own plant-based comfort food at the recently opened outpost of the popular By Chloe chain, at 181 Front St., which serves up the $10.95 “guac burger,” with a black bean-quinoa-sweet potato patty on a whole grain bun. There’s also a $9.95 pesto meatball sub (with veggie meatballs, natch) and mac ’n’ cheese made with a sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce (small for $5.95). Burn off those calories with a walk along the East River — located just down the block.

Long-standing attractions

south-street-seaport-bowne1a.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=568 Bowne & Co., which has been in business more than 200 years, still stands along the cobblestone streets of the Seaport.

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south-street-seaport-seafood1a.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=568 Fishmongers display their goods along Fulton Street in 1933.

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south-street-seaport-paris1a.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=568 A bartender taps some beer at the Paris Cafe.

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A visit inside Bowne & Co. Stationers (211 Water St.), part of the South Street Seaport Museum, takes you to, purportedly, the city’s oldest business still operating under the same name. It was founded in 1775 as a dry goods store — and became a printer in the 1800s. The charming shop — replete with vintage-style prints of Times Square and maps of Brooklyn (cute $4 postcards and $6 notecards are made in-house) — has stood in an 1830s building since 1975. “It’s beautiful-looking in there,” says 31-year-old Jeremy Boyd, who visited the shop — which sports brick walls and beamed ceilings — on a recent Saturday from Sloatsburg, NY.

Nearby, the Paris Cafe — at 119 South St. since 1873 — is one of the city’s oldest pubs. The weekend brunch menu, which includes a $17 croque-madame sandwich and a $21 order of steak and eggs, lures Financial District locals and out-of-towners alike.

But 2012’s Superstorm Sandy flooded the space with seawater — leading to a yearlong closure. “It was a chance to revamp the space and restore it,” says 70-year-old owner Peter O’Connell, adding that everything — from the original tile floors to the vintage coffered ceiling — was spruced up. They’re historical touches that appeal to visitors.

“I love modern things, but there’s a limit,” says 60-year-old Jean Marc Fugere, visiting town from Mirabel, Quebec, adding the cafe’s old-timey atmosphere offers a nice taste of a bygone New York. “You need this type of business.”

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