Important Announcement: Pier 54 heritage threat

posted in: BTS, News, Titanic | 0

The British Titanic Society has been contacted by the Titanic International Society proposing an emergency joint venture to protect an iconic part of New York’s Titanic heritage.

On 18 November, it was announced in New York City that the remains of historic Pier 54, where Titanic’s survivors were landed, will be demolished as part of a $170 million project in partnership with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to extend Hudson River Park along Manhattan’s western side. The foundation will design, build and maintain a new 2.4 acre (.97 hectare) waterfront park and performance venue atop a new, square pier – known as Pier 55 or “P55” – between the wood pilings that once supported the Cunard Line’s Pier 56 and those of Pier 54, which has suffered significant deterioration. The proposal calls for demolishing the pier’s crumbling concrete platform, leaving only its wood pilings, which will serve as a sanctuary for the river’s protected striped bass population.

Metal framework of Pier 54 New York
Pier 54, New York

While the actual pier structure through which Titanic’s rescued disembarked from Carpathia, and through which Lusitania’s final passengers boarded was destroyed in a fire on May 6, 1932, the pier was rebuilt using the original steel framework. Just one piece of that original structure remains: an iconic steel archway at the pier’s entrance, which still bears in faded paint the words “Cunard-White Star.”  Not only is this important in the history of both Titanic and Lusitania, but also will hold importance in the family history of millions of Americans.  However, in the projects lengthy environmental assessment document, there is no mention of what would become of this arch should this project move forward.  http://www.hudsonriverpark.org/assets/content/general/Pier54_Environmental_Assessment.pdf

Working together, our organisations intend to contact NY Authorities and publicise this issue, but we also welcome members to independently write to the project officials to urge that the arch is retained and conserved, either in its present location or moved to the new Pier 55, and supplemented with a suitable plaque or tablet commemorating Pier 54’s role in history.

Requests can be sent via e-mail to the Hudson River Park Trust, atpier54comments@hrpt.ny.gov or via postal letter to:

William Heinzen, Esq., Hudson River Park Trust, Pier 40, 2nd Floor, 353 West Street, New York, NY 10014-3674

Or to the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation at 555 W. 18th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011-2822.

(Remember, you will be representing our Societies in your messages, so please maintain politeness!)

Please note that all public comments must be received by 16 January 2015, so the time for action is very short.

With the help of the members of Titanic societies on both sides of the Atlantic, we have an opportunity to try to ensure that this final remnant of this historic pier can be rescued from the scrappers’ torch.

 Thank you.

Rudi Newman

On behalf of the Officers of the British Titanic Society.