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The Jane Hotel's Connection to the Titanic Draws a Crowd

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.

Bon Mots

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."

The American Seamen’s Friends Society Sailors' Institute was built from 1906-'08 and was designed by William Alciphron Boring, the architect behind the immigration station at Ellis Island.
The American Seamen’s Friends Society Sailors' Institute was built from 1906-'08 and was designed by William Alciphron Boring, the architect behind the immigration station at Ellis Island. ( Advertisement for the building from 1910. )
The Jane Hotel as it stands now on the West Side Highway and Jane Street.
The Jane Hotel as it stands now on the West Side Highway and Jane Street. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
A gargoyle holding a life preserver and anchor, alongside a 1960s-era neon sign advertising lodging.
A gargoyle holding a life preserver and anchor, alongside a 1960s-era neon sign advertising lodging. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
A shot of the Jane's historic lamps, porch and portico.
A shot of the Jane's historic lamps, porch and portico. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
A shot of the crowd that gathered in the Jane Hotel ballroom on a recent Thursday night in the same room where the Titanic's surviving sailors once stood.
A shot of the crowd that gathered in the Jane Hotel ballroom on a recent Thursday night in the same room where the Titanic's surviving sailors once stood. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
The RMS 'Titanic,' leaving Southampton, England on its maiden voyage to New York City.
The RMS 'Titanic,' leaving Southampton, England on its maiden voyage to New York City.
The Carpathia answered rescue calls after the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912. Here, Titanic lifeboats headed to the Carpathia.
The Carpathia answered rescue calls after the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912. Here, Titanic lifeboats headed to the Carpathia.
Thousands awaited the Carpathia at Pier 54 after news of the sinking of Titanic reached New York.
Thousands awaited the Carpathia at Pier 54 after news of the sinking of Titanic reached New York.
Pier 54 is currently a public pier and is part of Hudson River Park.
Pier 54 is currently a public pier and is part of Hudson River Park. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
Most days, Pier 54 is empty.
Most days, Pier 54 is empty. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
You can still see the ghost letters spelling out 'Cunard White Star' above the pier.
You can still see the ghost letters spelling out 'Cunard White Star' above the pier. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
A view of New Jersey across the Hudson from the pier.
A view of New Jersey across the Hudson from the pier. ( Abbie Fentress Swanson )
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