Found out this morning that Atlanta wants to build a pirate museum. A whole big museum, complete with recovered treasure, interactive exhibits, and maybe a barbecue restaurant.
Yep, a museum. About pirates. In Atlanta.
Now, first problem I see, is justifying putting a museum that involves any naval history in a city so far inland. It’s about 250 miles from the proposed site to Savannah, Georgia’s closest port.
Second, it involves basing it in a town without a lot of connection to those days. The first recorded settlement noted there is found in 1782, a good 64 years after Blackbeard’s death up the coast at Ocracoke Island, with the first European structure raised 31 years later. (I might be tempted to throw them a gimmie if they can prove that Fort Gilmer was authorized to defend Georgia from Jean Lafitte; lots of luck there…)
In fact, the closest we get to pirates in Atlanta are the parts in GONE WITH THE WIND where Rhett Butler discusses his naval career as a blockade runner, moving his ships past the US Navy’s efforts to starve the CSA. It sorta counts, kinda, maybe…
If these folks really want to do a pirate museum, it might make more sense to have it in a port city, one that was actually around during the Golden Age of Piracy and could serve as a wonderful host. Places like San Juan, a major port for the Flota de Indias, or Charleston, where Blackbeard conducted his own one-ship blockade in return for medical supplies. Heck, Baltimore, which hosted so many privateers that the effort to drive them out during the War of 1812 gave us The Star Spangled Banner, has a greater claim.
Then again, there’s New York City.
Think about it: New York has every claim to a pirate museum that Atlanta can’t raise up with the colors. William Kidd started his ill-fated voyage from these docks, and Thomas Tew set up shop here and home based from this port. Freebooters and other mariners in the dark trades were very welcome in this town, as I noted before. This also includes George Trenholm, who may have been the basis for Rhett Butler; he had an office of his shipping company operating in the city that stayed open throughout the conflict, running goods through the lines.
And frankly, there’s greater need for it here. The South Street Seaport Complex could frankly use a hand, and the galleries like the ones being proposed for Atlanta would be a great boon to them. The wealth of materials that they could get on loan from the South Street Seaport Museum (which has vessels docked along side the complex), the New-York Historical Society and the Museum of the City of New York would be invaluable.
If not on Manhattan island itself, then a site in the Bronx or Yonkers near some of the land originally held by the Philipse and Van Cortland families could work. It’s not to late to add this into the redevelopment plan recently approved for downtown Yonkers.
I can sort of see why the Atlanta pirate museum makes sense if it’s an excuse for putting a barbecue restaurant on Centennial Olympic Park.
…OK, no I can’t, sorry…