Tomorrow will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The final destination, of course, was to be New York. Margaret Brown who survived the tragedy was one of the key drivers behind the 60-foot tall lighthouse memorial. My son and I visited the lighthouse earlier this week when we spent the day at South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan.
The memorial was erected by public subscription in 1913 and was dedicated to honor the passengers, officers, and crew that perished on that unforgettable night. Originally, the lighthouse stood above the East River on the roof of the old Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey. On top of the tower was a time ball that would drop down the pole to signal twelve noon to the ships in the harbor from 1913 to 1967. In 1968 the Seamen’s Church Institute moved to its current address at 15 State Street. Thankfully, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse was not part of the demolition. Kaiser-Nelson Steel and Salvage Corporation donated it to the South Street Seaport Museum. It is at the entrance to the museum complex on the corner of Fulton and Pearl Street where it still stands today in Titanic Park.
My son first became fascinated with the story of the Titanic in the third grade when he checked out Titanic, by Anna Claybourne & Katie Daynes in the school library. We have enjoyed the Titanic exhibit that was at Discovery Times Square Exhibition a couple of years ago and viewed the re-released movie in 3D. Seeing the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse just added to the story for my son and served as a way to touch history while we were at South Street Seaport.
If you ever find yourself downtown in NYC by the seaport, pass by this memorial and pause and remember those who lost their lives. While you are in the area, you can also learn more about the Titanic at the South Street Seaport Museum. Currently, there is an exhibition on the Titanic that features artifacts and also focuses on the ocean liner’s place in popular culture. One of the highlights of the exhibit is the original 1911 deck plan of the ship’s first class accommodations. The exhibit is currently in the museum’s Melville Gallery which is across the street from the Titanic Memorial.