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A Rebirth: South Street Seaport

July 18, 2018


The last time I visited Pier 17, or as it’s more often called, the South Street Seaport, was for a business meeting. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of construction going on. However, I was there for work, not for pleasure so I completely forgot about this visit.

Then I spotted an article in Travel & Leisure’s April 2018 issue written by Lila Battis with the title On the Waterfront and a subtitle saying, “New York City’s once-snoozy South Street Seaport is finally springing back to life.”

Photo: Courtesy of Travel & Leisure, April 2018. Note the cobblestone street

That one sentence explained the messy, ripped-up look that I had seen earlier. She goes on to write “In 2017, developers launched a campaign to infuse the area (now called Seaport District NYC) with creative energy that would draw locals and tourists in equal measure.” Interested?

Then, let’s take a closer look at the revival of this waterfront area that is nearly as old as the city itself – and see how it will be this year and far beyond. We hope.

First, smaller merchants have mostly supplanted or outlived the retail giants. Take a look.

  • At Northern Grade Marketplace located at 117 Beekman Street (between Water St. and Pearl) you’ll find American-made housewares and apparel.
  • Farm Candy at 6 Fulton Street is a shop filled with their signature brand of handcrafted small-batch artisanal salts, sugars and chocolates. One customer notes, “They let you sample everything.” I’ll see you there!
  • Bowne & Co. Stationers at 211 Water Street offers the age-old tradition of small-batch printing and is operated by the South Street Museum. You’ll find posters, postcards and amazing $5.00 cards here.

Hats off to tradition at Bowne & Co.

  • Clinton Hall is a beer garden at 90 Washington Street (nearby in the Financial District) that serves Buffalo Cauliflower (don’t ask), and the Red Velvet WFT Waffle (don’t ask). And yes, both of these items get rave reviews.

Now I noticed – as we all have – that cobblestone streets are very popular in this part of New York City. They look great and are “not so great” to walk on – especially if you’re a female wearing heels. Which brings me to this: over the past year or so I’ve seen reports about heels that convert to flats.

Low heels here                  High heels here       Same shoe for both

Photo courtesy of the New York Post, 4/2/18

Frankly, I think the idea is fantastic. Do you know how many times I’ve seen well-dressed women in this town switching shoes in the office or standing in doorways on the street doing this one-foot dance?

In the New York Post, Monday, April 2, 2018 an update on this shoe, penned by Catherine Kast and titled Pump It Up appeared with the subhead “A new brand promises a shoe revolution – heels that convert to flats on the go – but are they too good to be true?”

This brilliant idea has come from entrepreneur Melody Avecilla, a former flight attendant with a MBA, who runs the California-based company, called RUNWAY HEELS. (Why are so many terrific ideas always bubbling up in California? Is there something in the water?) Avecilla sent a sample pair to the New York Post and Oh. My. God. They Look Terrific! One of the paper’s fashion editors said, “These are actually pretty chic.”

To convert the flats to heels you push a button on the inner side of the sole and the heel springs out from the bottom of the shoe. Co-founder and shoemaker, Miguel Rodriguez told Kast “the steel-and-aluminum heel was tested to hold 300 lbs.”

Runway Heels is still tweaking their design but, fingers crossed, I’d love to see this company make a success of this incredibly unique and new idea. CLICK HERE to learn more about these fab shoes.

UPDATE: In the New York Post, 5/15/18, the American actress Kristen Stewart rebelled against the Cannes Film Festival’s controversial flat-shoe ban. “Heelgate” began in 2015 when a group of women wearing flats were banned from a screening. The festival insists heels are obligatory for women at red-carpet screenings – this sparked some pointed responses from actresses.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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