Pretty much everyone who wasn’t born under a rock is familiar with the Titanic, thanks in part to Leo, or a cultural fascination with the ill-fated sinking ship. One of the most fascinating relics of the Titanic’s famous history is Pier 54 in New York City's Chelsea Piers, the dock where the 710 survivors arrived after their terrifying experience upon the world’s most famous boat.
Originally the Olympic-class ocean liner, Titanic was slated to arrive at Pier 59, but on April 14, 1912 at 11:40pm the boat struck an iceberg, which flooded five of the watertight compartments, dooming the ship and its passengers.
“Those aboard Titanic were ill-prepared for such an emergency. In accordance with accepted practices of the time, where ships were seen as largely unsinkable and lifeboats were intended to transfer passengers to nearby rescue vessels,Titanic only had enough lifeboats to carry about half of those on board; if the ship had carried her full complement of about 3,339 passengers and crew, only about a third could have been accommodated in the lifeboats.The crew had not been trained adequately in carrying out an evacuation. The officers did not know how many they could safely put aboard the lifeboats and launched many of them barely half-full.Third-class passengers were largely left to fend for themselves, causing many of them to become trapped below decks as the ship filled with water.The “women and children first” protocol was generally followed for the loading of the lifeboatsand most of the male passengers and crew were left aboard.”
Upwards of 1,500 people died, and survivors were placed aboard the Carpathia which was was headed towards New York. It took three days for the ship to make it to Pier 54, and in that time a massive group of over 40,000 people stood in the heavy rain hoping that their loved one had survived.
Today the remnants of Pier 54 are open to the public, it’s massive rusted round arch like a gateway to the Hudson River. Thousands of people fascinated with the history of the Titanic visit the monument every year, to stand under the arches and imagine what it must have been like for the groups who waited hoping to see their loved one in the crowd of survivors.
If you’re planning a trip to New York City this summer, and you’re looking to take in the sights and smells, Pier 54 is a fascinating part of NY’s history, and an iconic place to visit if you’re a fan of Titanic lore. It’s well worth a detour to spend some time at a place that holds so much history.
Featured image credit: Ralph Hockens