For 42 years, the historic four-masted sailing ship, The Peking, stayed docked at New York City’s seaport district, but on Wednesday it was time for this piece of nautical history to say goodbye to the city that saved it from ruin and begin its long journey home to Hamburg, Germany.
The 744-foot long German ship was built of riveted steel, with the tallest of its four masts reaching a height of 170 feet. It was a marvel when it was constructed in 1911, and still is even today.
In its lifetime, the Peking made 34 treacherous trips along the Cape Horn of South America carrying cargoes of guano to be used to make fertilizer and explosives. The ship was later repurposed for various uses after retiring in 1933, including several maritime schools.
When the ship was set to be destroyed in 1974, the South Street Seaport Museum saved it from its doom by welcoming it to the New York shores for the first time, and for 42 years it is where the Peking stayed to become one of the cities greatest sites.
As the Peking sets out for its trip home, it wont leave the museum with an empty dock. The 325-foot long wrought-iron Wavertree, built in England in 1885, will fill the void, and it is a much more fitting ship for the port.
Captain Jonathan Boulware, the South Street Seaport Museum’s executive director, told the Associated Press that “it’s the right ship for New York” and that “in the early 20th century, the Wavertree is the kind of ship you would have seen in South Street Seaport every day of the week.”
The Peking’s journey back to Hamburg will be a slow one though as the aging ship is first making its way to a dry dock at Staten Island, where it will be properly readied for the much longer Atlantic journey. In the spring it will set sail for home and undergo an estimated $25 million in restoration before becoming the staple of a new maritime museum.