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Museum Reopens, But South Street Seaport Struggles

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The South Street Seaport Museum reopened to visitors Monday for the first time since Superstorm Sandy, but making a comeback for the holidays has been a challenge, if not impossible, for most businesses in the area.

The museum, at 12 Fulton St. in Lower Manhattan on the East River, was one of the last tourist attractions in the city to reopen. Also still closed to visitors are the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which will not reopen before sometime next year.

1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon reportsSeaport</a|titles=South Street Seaport Still Struggling After Sandy|artists=Sonia Rincon]

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on the Hudson River is also still closed.

Flooding from Sandy, which hit at the end of October, destroyed electrical and heating systems in many building basements in the South Street area. The Seaport's Pier 17 has reopened and New York Water Taxi service has resumed there, but many businesses and shops remain closed.

Worries have mounted that efforts to revitalize the area have been dealt a serious setback.

The Seaport neighborhood's cobblestone streets, preserved 19th century buildings and tall-masted historic vessels anchored at Pier 17 create an evocative glimpse of New York's old waterfront and is a popular tourist destination.

The historic vessels and the Seaport museum's collections and exhibits were not damaged, but the museum's mechanical, heating and electrical systems were shut down. For now, visitors must use stairs to the museum as its escalators and elevators are still not operating. Heat is being blown into the building from heaters located on the street.

The museum plans to open two new exhibits Friday, "Street Shots/NYC" and "A Fisherman's Dream: Folk Art."

Meanwhile, many nearby businesses remain devastated, 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon reported. But a few, including Acqua Restaurant, have managed to pull it off.

The restaurant now has refrigerators, dishwashers and pasta makers after everything was gone.

But the area was still missing the visitors two months after Sandy that will keep the comebacks going.

Bart Russo works nearby, and said many of the shops have a long way to go.

"They're boarded up. They're closed," he said. "The tour buses come downtown and turn right around and leave."

Jackie Hart has also been watching the struggle and trying to help.

"The happy feeling that the Seaport takes on – especially at Christmas – is nowhere to be found," she said.

She said many of her neighbors in the area remain gone because their buildings are still without power due to extensive damage.

Faith Hope Consolo, one of the city's leading retail real estate brokers, said last month that the challenge is huge for the Seaport.

"If they reopen at the Seaport, they're going to have to do a dramatic marketing and advertising campaign like: 'We're back!'" she said.

She said she knows what else it will need -- "some stores that aren't anywhere else in the city; some restaurants that aren't anywhere else in the city, because if somebody can go to the same restaurant uptown or across town, they're not going to go to the Seaport," she said.

Will you be visiting the reopened South Street Seaport Museum soon? Leave your comments below...

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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