When a group of marine engine manufacturers and boat builders met in New York City to produce the nation’s first boat show, they didn’t know they’d started a tradition that would be thriving more than a century later. The first National Motor Boat Show was held in 1905, showcasing just 25 types of boats near what is now Grand Central Station.
Over the years, the “World’s No. 1 Boat Show” outgrew its birthplace and moved from Midtown to the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx to the New York Coliseum, attracting celebrities like Jackie Onassis, Robert Redford, Walter Cronkite and plenty of ordinary boat-lovers.
In 1986, facing a greater demand for exhibition space, the boat show arrived at the Javits Center.
This year, the New York Boat Show celebrates its 107th season in New York City. How has the Boat Show changed over time?
“As shows have evolved, they’ve become broader, they’ve become a way to promote the lifestyle of boating, for boaters to connect with clubs and sports,” says Ben Wold, executive vice president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Though the country’s first modern boat show now features hundreds of brands, it remains true to its origins.