by M. Sigmund Shapiro
April 16, 2003

When I was a lad, as W. S. Gilbert once said, I used to attend board meetings of the New York Customs Brokers’ Association (now the NCBFAA) that were normally held at Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street. The restaurant was a stone’s throw from the Custom House on Bowling Green, so I sometimes had occasion to visit there, since it handled many functions for Customs headquarters in D.C., along with the daily paper shuffling required to clear imports and exports.

When the World Trade Center was completed, Customs moved in, and the Custom House languished in disrepair. Pat Moynihan saved it from demolition, and ultimately created a Native American museum, after extensive and very authentic renovation. It is a fascinating exhibit.

As trade and automation expanded, Customs day-to-day operations moved to JFK Airport and the New Jersey seaports, leaving the Trade Center as a “back office” operation that did not deal with the public on a daily basis.

The horrors of 9/11 virtually destroyed Customs facilities in the Trade Center.

Just recently, Customs announced that they will move some functions back into the Bowling Green building, including interface with the trading public.

Can lunch in Fraunces Tavern be far behind?