Follow her on Twitter @dearabbie.
The Jane Hotel's Connection to the Titanic Draws a Crowd
Monday, April 09, 2012
New York City has no shortage of sites that have a direct connection to the Titanic. (See our handy map of some of them below.)
One such landmark is the Jane Hotel, formerly known as the American Seamen’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute, which on April 19, 1912 was the site of a memorial service for surviving sailors rescued from the Titanic.
The brick neo-Classical building on the West Side Highway and Jane Street was built in 1907-'08 by a Presbyterian group called the American Seamen’s Friends Society. William A. Boring designed the sailors' home. Boring was the former partner of Boring & Tilton, which designed the immigration station on Ellis Island.
"One of the identifying characteristics of the building is this wonderful octagonal tower in the corner which used to have a light beacon on top so it looked like a lighthouse," said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation. "It both symbolically and practically was meant to be a place that sort of called out to sailors as a safe port. And in this case, it was a safe port for the crewmembers of the Titanic who were rescued from the disaster."
On a recent Thursday night, more than 100 people gathered in the Jane's decadent ballroom to understand the connection between the Greenwich Village spot and the ship's surviving sailors. The event, called "Titanic & The Village," was organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and featured a talk and book-signing by Titanic scholars Jack Eaton and Charlie Haas.
Learn about the Jane's history and connection to the Titanic by clicking the audio above. Also check out our map of New York City Titanic landmarks based on the talk or scroll down to see some of the "bon mots" from the evening from Haas, Eaton and New Yorkers who attended the event.
Charlie Haas, co-founder and president of the Titanic International Society, on room rates at the sailors' home in 1910: "The average seaman paid only a quarter a night and there were larger rooms at 50 cents per night for the officers and those included shower baths. You'll notice also that there were facilities here for billiards, a bowling alley, shower baths, a swimming pool, banking facilities and an assembly hall ... which I suspect may have been this room right here."
Jack Eaton, co-founder and historian of the Titanic International Society, on an artifact in New Jersey that some claim is a piece of a Titanic lifeboat: "We have had to put the cease-and-desist order on this twice within the last 10 years. It is not a Titanic lifeboat. However the mystery of the Titanic and the aura make people believe with just a little urging from the entrepreneur that this is a Titanic lifeboat. Don't believe it."
Long-time Titanic fan Greg Shutters on the centennial: "100 years -- it’s a big one. I was planning on throwing a Titanic party of my own, so maybe that will come to pass."
Richard Currie on how he got interested in the Titanic: "My birthday is April 15 and that’s the night it went down. So I’ve had this sort of passing interest."
Jeffrey Ryan, who learned about the ship from reading Walter Lord's 1955 book, "A Night To Remember," on his fandom: "I just bought something on eBay -- a deck plan of the Carpathia ... so I’m a collector."
Sumi Vatsa on gathering in honor of the centennial: "I thought it was a little strange, 'Are we commemorating the disaster?' Then it was like, 'I understand what we’re commemorating.' It's actually very inspirational ... it’s definitely much more than Kate and Leo on the boat, you know?"
Pat Bartels on the Jane Hotel's history: "To see the development of the Chelsea Piers and this particular building, which we’ve looked at for years saying, What a shame, it’s such a dump,' and to find out it’s such a wonderful place, is, you know, it’s really fun."