Clipper City cruising in NYC

(Last Updated On: August 10, 2021)

Board the tall ship Clipper City for the best views of New York City and plenty of fresh air.

Manhattan through rigging

Clipper ships ruled the seas for a brief period during the 1840s and 50s. Designed for speed, these sleek wooden ships had three tall square-rigged masts that supported up to thirty-five sails. They were beautiful under sail and they were fast. As the express cargo transport of the day, they hauled high-value goods, including people, tea, spices, and mail.

While the clippers were the most famous of the tall ships, they were only one of the many types of sailing vessels found in New York’s harbor in the days before steam took over. Walking along the city’s harbor in the 19th century, a visitor would have seen many masts rising above the docks.

There aren’t many tall ships to be seen in the harbor today, but there are a few.

City Clipper at dock in Battery park

And of those few, several regularly take passengers out on the water.

One of these is Clipper City.

NYC from the deck of the Clipper City

The original Clipper City (a two-masted schooner, not a true clipper) was built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1854. While that original ship has long since been lost to time, the plans used to build her survived. In 1984 she was rebuilt using those original plans, albeit with some modifications to meet current safety needs. That second Clipper City can now be seen in the waters along Battery Park and guests are welcome aboard for short trips past the gleaming towers of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

We boarded late in the afternoon on a hot September day for a sightseeing cruise.

On board the boat there is a bit of time to wander around and stake out a good viewing spot (port or starboard seats?) before heading out into the bay.

While we wait I consider the intricate patterns the rigging cuts in the sky above.

looking up at the rigging

But soon sails are raised and it is time for the passengers to get a drink while the crew adjusts the sail trim!


crew raising sails

The sails are looking good. . .



. . . but so is Manhattan!

sails and Manhattan


It’s a perfect day to be on the water, hot and sunny with just enough of a breeze to fill the sails. It’s lovely to silently glide across the bay for a closer look at the Statue of Liberty.

sail with Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Even the captain and crew seem relaxed.

captain at the wheel, but looking away

But Manhattan is never really out of sight and – too soon – we are headed back to the hustle and bustle of the city.

passengers looking toward Manhattan

passengers with Manhattan in the background

Manhattan throug the lines

What a relaxing sail back in time!

Plan your sailing trip on the Clipper City

Manhattan by Sail owns and operates Clipper City and a smaller schooner, Shearwater. During the sailing season (roughly April through October) a regular program of cruises is offered, including happy hour and evening trips.

As of 2021, the Clipper City is no longer docked at the south end of Battery Park. Instead, you’ll have to head all the way over to Pier 35 north of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. However, it appears most cruises still sail out to Ellis Island, giving passengers the same striking views of Manhattan I enjoyed. Book a late afternoon or sunset cruise for the best light on the city.

Tickets are available online – purchase tickets in advance for special occasions, as some sailings sell out. A variety of cruises on both ships were included in the New York pass, which is how we paid for our cruise.

Building a trip around the New York Pass  

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