In what was the last gasping breath to preserve the traditional uses at Manhattan's South Street Seaport, the New Amsterdam Market - an open air vending fair of locally grown produce, meats, fish, and local crafts - is now closed. The South Street Seaport - never adequately regarded or funded by the City of New York, and now a target for the Howard Hughes Corporation for building high-rise luxury condominiums and expanded chain-stall mall opportunities - looks like it will go way of working class neighborhoods throughout New York since the advent of the Bloomberg administration. Today, I received the following letter from Robert LaValva, who worked tirelessly to keep the seaport a seaport:
July 14, 2014
I am sorry to announce that New Amsterdam Market has ended, and will no longer take place on South Street.
Founded in 2005, New Amsterdam Market was first staged at the site of the Old Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan on December 16, 2007. Over the ensuing seven years, the market grew in frequency and scope while nurturing an evolving community of small businesses dedicated to sustainable food production, regional economies, and fair trade.
Through our steadfast presence under every adversity, we also championed the preservation of New York City's oldest commons, where public trade has been conducted since 1642. We held a total 88 markets and numerous innovative celebrations of our region's bounty; supported nearly 500 food entrepreneurs; and contributed to the creation of more than 350 jobs.
However, I was never able to raise the funding or attract the influential backers needed for our organization to thrive. Furthermore, we were dealt a mortal blow in 2013 when Council Member Chin, who had long professed to support our cause, betrayed the community in favor of a suburban shopping mall developer, Howard Hughes. As a result, Lower Manhattan has already lost more than one acre of beloved and irreplaceable public space and is now seeing its most precious public asset ruined by inappropriate programming and terrible waterfront design.
Our last market at this location was held on Saturday, June 21, 2014.
I thank all of you who supported this endeavor.
Robert LaValva, Founder
New Amsterdam Market
Recent visits to the Seaport revealed a quasi-circus atmosphere, as the nautical and historical elements were downplayed in favor of tourist-oriented live entertainment and upscale shopping; the New Amsterdam Market and Bowne Stationers proved to be the exceptions to the neo-carnival approach.
Three separate efforts by this blogger to donate a complete collection of over thirty 150-year old nautical paintings, created by my great-great grandfather J.Lawrence Giles (whose lithography shop was located on Beekman Street at the Seaport during the Civil War era) received not a single response.
The Seaport, which also owned a museum unit on the Woodcleft Canal in the maritime village of Freeport, Long Island, closed that unit for good several years ago as well.
More Disappearing Old New-York....