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. Some 100 feet (30.5m) of Pier 54’s 875-foot (266m) platform already has collapsed into the Hudson River, and except for a 100-foot segment at the pier’s eastern (street) end, the pier’s remaining length has been closed due to safety concerns. 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. The proposal still must receive approvals from the full board of the Hudson River Park Trust, the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Following demolition, construction could begin in 2016.
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.”
The project’s lengthy environmental assessment document is downloadable at http://www.hudsonriverpark.org/assets/content/general/Pier54_Environmental_Assessment.pdf. There is no mention of what would become of this arch should this project move forward. You can help to ensure 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. 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. Send your request via e-mail to the Hudson River Park Trust, at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or via postal letter to William Heinzen, Esq., Hudson River Park Trust, Pier 40, 2nd Floor,
353 West Street, New York, NY 10014-3674, and to the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation at 555 W. 18th Street,
2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011-2822.