Peking Leaving South Street Seaport After More Than 4 Decades

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A piece of maritime history is leaving the South Street Seaport after more than four decades, as the Peking is about to set sail to make room for an even more important vessel.

CBS2’s Elise Finch reported the steel-hulled vessel is nearly 400 feet long, is 170 feet high and has four masts. It was built in Germany in 1911 and was retired in 1933 when steamers took over what was left of the nitrate trade.

“Peking and her sisters were known as Nitrate Clippers. They carried nitrate, bird guano from the west coast of South America to Europe. That was for use as fertilizer, the ingredients for explosives,” said Capt. Jonathan Boulware of the South Street Seaport Museum.

For 40 years, the Peking served as a nautical school before becoming part of the South Street Seaport Museum fleet.

As museum resources dwindled after Superstorm Sandy, the fleet had to be reduced.

Due to its age and condition, the Peking could easily be sent to the scrap yard, but museum officials found it a new home instead.

This is the second time organizers at the museum have saved the Peking. The first time was in 1974 when they acquired it. This year, instead of destroying it, they’re gifting it to a museum in Germany.

“I think we had this ship for a while now and I think we enjoyed it and now it’s time for someone else to enjoy it,” said Roberto Guzman of Bay Ridge.

This decision allowed the museum to focus their efforts and their $13 million on restoring the Wavertree – a ship with strong ties to New York.

“Pick a cargo, it was brought in on ships like the Wavertree here into the Seaport,” Boulware explained. “Wavertree is the type of ship that built this city.”

New Yorkers applauded the move.

“I think it would fit more with the modern era of New York,” said Melanie Guzman of Bay Ridge.

“New Yorkers are always looking for something new and interesting to see, always,” said Elizabeth Guzman of Bay Ridge.

Three small tug boats will pull the Peking out of Pier 16 Wednesday morning as the restored Wavertree will take its place on Sept. 24.

The German government is paying more than $30 million to have the Peking taken to the Maritime Museum of Hamburg where it will be restored.

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