Monday, July 18, 2016

Roadie: South Street Seaport Museum

The Peking at the South Street Seaport in New York City. (6/19/16)
Friday evening, my wife and I watched In the Heart of the Sea (2015) directed by Ron Howard and based upon the (far superior) novel by Nathaniel Philbrick. Despite lacking the passion of the book, and including some very odd camera angles intended (I think) to suggest some sort of artistic vision, one thing the movie did do very well is to recreate the Essex, the whaling ship that serves as the initial setting. Similar to our shared earlier film experience with Peter Weir's excellent 2003 historical drama Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on Dan O-Brien's novels, much of our viewing of the at-sea scenes were punctuated with comments such as "There is no way I could survive on a ship like that" or "I would definitely puke my brains out!"

It was during these scenes that I recalled we had indeed been on a boat not too dissimilar to that depicted in the movie... well, maybe not really, but it was an older vessel and we had toured it while it was moored to  a pier. Last month while visiting my step-son in New York City, one of the historical sites we found ourselves wandering into (in addition to the National September 11 Memorial and Hamilton Grange) was the South Sea Seaport. While there, we took in the South Street Seaport Museum and one of its display, the Peking. Neither a whaling ship nor war ship, the Peking was "one of the famous 'Flying P Liners'... [e]mployed in the nitrate trade..." The vessel was "made famous by the Irving Johnson film Around Cape Horn which documented her 1929 passage around the southern tip of South America in hurricane conditions." As part of our admission to the museum we were given a fairly self-guided tour of the ship.

Just as with the two aforementioned movies, touring the Peking reminded me how extremely unlikely it would be that I could survive at sea with fifty other people during an extensive voyage. I am more than well-equipped, however to tour interesting museums which permit an up-close experience with real history, a quality the South Street Seaport Museum has plenty of.

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