Streams

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

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Jane Hotel, hotel, soho, new york The Jane Hotel (Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC)

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 1907-1908 and was designed by William Alciphron Boring, the architect behind the immigration station at Ellis Island.
Advertisement for the building from 1910.
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 Jane Hotel as it stands now on the West Side Highway and Jane Street.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
The Jane Hotel as it stands now on the West Side Highway and Jane Street.
A gargoyle holding a life preserver and anchor, alongside a 1960s-era neon sign advertising lodging.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
A gargoyle holding a life preserver and anchor, alongside a 1960s-era neon sign advertising lodging.
A shot of the Jane's historic lamps, porch and portico.
Abbie Fentress Swanson
A shot of the Jane's historic lamps, porch and portico.
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/WNYC
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.
The RMS 'Titanic,' leaving Southampton, England on its maiden voyage to New York City.
flickr
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.
flickr
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.
flickr
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.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
Pier 54 is currently a public pier and is part of Hudson River Park.
Most days, Pier 54 is empty.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
Most days, Pier 54 is empty.
In New York, the Carpathia unloaded surviving crew and passengers at Pier 54. You can still see the ghost letters spelling out 'Cunard White Star' above the pier.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
You can still see the ghost letters spelling out 'Cunard White Star' above the pier.
A view of New Jersey across the Hudson from the pier.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
A view of New Jersey across the Hudson from the pier.

Tags:

More in:

Comments [2]

Whistleblower from Bank

After the winter season in Europe, J.P. Morgan, a stockholder of the White Star Line, invited many of his wealthy “friends” to join him on a boat ride back to the States.
He promoted the voyage as the social event of the season.
It was a brand new boat - large, fast, and luxurious.
There would be the best food, the best entertainment, the best people.
It might set a record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic.

Morgan had been trying to pass the Aldrich Act, which would create a central bank cartel, that would allow the big banks to legally counterfeit money, thereby stealing the value of earned dollars, and manipulating economic cycles to the advantage of the bank owners and insiders, who could ride the artificially created waves of boom and bust, as they devalued the dollars that ordinary Americans earned.

The wealthy opponents of the Aldrich Act were the Gold Bugs, sound money advocates whom Morgan invited:
Benjamin Guggenheim - Alaskan Gold mine
Isidore Strauss- Macys
Emil Brandeis - Dept. Store, Nebraska
Jacob Astor- Opium, then NY Real Estate,
Charles B. Hayes - Canadian Transcontinental RR
John B. Thayer - Pennsylvania RR
George D. Widner - US urban tram ways
Major Archie Butt - Aid to President Taft
William Steed - British Journalist, who was to advise President Taft against war and Aldrich act.
These sound money advocates died when the “Titanic” sank on Sunday, April 14, 1912.

Supporters of the Aldrich Act who were supposed to be aboard Titanic were:
William Frick - a Morgan Ally was supposed to be aboard. His wife sprained her ankle at the last minute. He didn't go.
J.P. Morgan stayed in Paris with his girlfriend.
A number of other rich supporters of the Aldrich Act also cancelled at the last minute.

Absent it’s dead opponents, the failed the Aldrich Act was slightly rewritten and billed as the Anti-Aldrich Act. It became The Federal Reserve Act (enacted by a handful of Congressmen & Senators when most of Congress was home for Christmas, on December 23, 1913) which created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes (now commonly known as the U.S. Dollar) as legal tender. The Act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.

Apr. 14 2012 05:59 PM

There's also a plaque in memory of the Strauses inside one of the doors of Macy's on the 34th Street side.

Apr. 10 2012 07:37 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Sponsored

About Talk to Me

Talk to Me brings you downloadable readings and conversations with writers, artists, and scholars – from author Joshua Ferris to choreographer Mark Morris to poet Sharon Olds – recorded at cultural institutions in New York City and beyond. Stream, download, or subscribe to the full-length podcasts here.

Feeds

Supported by