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Reopening an icon of New York City in the fall of 2021, the new iteration of Independent will take place at the Battery Maritime Building which will open to the public for the first time in several decades. This historical restoration includes three exhibitor halls flooded with natural light and high ceilings in the Beaux Art style, waterfront vistas and a terrace for the bar and restaurant in collaboration with Cipriani South Street. 

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Whitehall Terminal South Elevation, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

Whitehall Terminal South Elevation, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

Whitehall Terminal North Elevation, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

Whitehall Terminal North Elevation, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

West Concourse at the Battery Maritime Building © Etienne Frossard.

West Concourse at the Battery Maritime Building © Etienne Frossard.

Railing Detail Whitehall Terminal, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

Railing Detail Whitehall Terminal, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

View from Battery Maritime Building © Etienne Frossard.

View from Battery Maritime Building © Etienne Frossard.

Municipal Ferry Houses, detail Slip 6-7, Photo: Architects and Builders' Magazine, v.42 (1909-1910).

Municipal Ferry Houses, detail Slip 6-7, Photo: Architects and Builders' Magazine, v.42 (1909-1910).

Whitehall Terminal North Entry, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

Whitehall Terminal North Entry, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

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New York’s Front door

Aerial View Manhattan, Photo: 1942 Bureau of Public Records via National Archives.

Located at the tip of Manhattan, the Battery Maritime Building acts as a front door to New York city in both its function as a ferry terminal and its location, one of North America’s oldest sea landing points, and the site from which the city settled upwards. "Viewed from a ferry boat approaching the tip of Manhattan, the monumental arched openings of the Municipal Ferry Terminal at the mouth of the East River appear like three tunnels opening into the canyons of the city." (1)

Transport

Dongan Hills Ferry, Photo: 1945 US information Agency via National Archives.

The Battery Maritime Building was constructed at a time when the city of New York was investing greatly in civic infrastructure. Public transportation systems played a key role in consolidating the city’s five boroughs and the surrounding commuter towns, transforming New York into the mobile urban hub it is today. “Its construction ended in 1909, around the same time as some of the city’s greatest landmarks: the NYC subway system (1904), the Manhattan Bridge (1909), Pennsylvania Station (1910) and Grand Central Station (1913).”

Public health

Whitehall Terminal North Elevation, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections.

Much like today, the early twentieth century was a time of increasing health awareness in New York.  Those who could afford to would escape the city’s congestion and crowded, unsanitary tenements, via the Battery Maritime ferry terminal, to access fresh air and visit sanatoriums. The Battery Maritime Building itself was also designed with public health in mind, built entirely on the water, with a 3000 square foot terrace allowing passengers to enjoy the fresh maritime air ahead of their departure. This September the renovated loggia will once again be open to the public, affording Independent exhibitors and visitors a safe and unique experience.

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"It is probable that no building designed in similar style will ever again be erected in the City of New York and stands as a reminder of the City that was, on which the present greatness of New York was founded."

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Architecture

Maritime Terminal South View, 1951, Photo: Irma and Paul Milstein Division of US History via New York Public Library.

Standing at a stark contrast to the New York cityscape, the Battery Maritime Building’s unique design has come to define it as a landmark. Of the Beaux-Arts Structural Expressionist architectural style, the building’s exposed trusses and rivets contribute to its ornate splendour. This bastion of civic and heroic architecture recalls the grandeur of 19th century World Fair halls, and "it is probable that no building designed in similar style will ever again be erected in the City of New York." (2).

Landmark designation

1Whitehall Terminal North Entry, Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress Map Collections .

The Battery Maritime Building has gone unused for most of its existence. The 1930s saw a decline in the demand for maritime transport, resulting in the closure of the Brooklyn ferry system in 1938. Nevertheless, as an icon of civic infrastructure, the disused building was designated a landmark in 1967. Lauded for its distinct architectural features, the then commissioner noted "it stands as a reminder of the City that was, the water-based City of ferries and piers, on which the present greatness of New York was founded."

 

Renovation

Thierry Despont and the Statue of Liberty.

The Battery Maritime Building is a project spearheaded by the Cipriani family. Marvel Architects & Thierry W. Despont Ltd were the firms overseeing the restoration, construction and design of the landmarked property, that will reopen this Fall as Casa Cipriani. It will comprise a 110,000 square foot Members Only Private Club spread out across 5 floors and designed by Thierry Despont and Cipriani South Street, as well as an event space that will be added to Cipriani's collection of landmarked venues in New York City, such as The Cunard Building, 55 Wall Street and The Bowery Savings Bank on 42nd Street. Independent will be Cipriani South Street's first public facing event.

(1) "Whitehall Ferry Terminal, 11 South Street". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. May 25, 1967.
(2) Ibid.