pier 54Pier 54 is one of a set of piers in New York City, which runs along the west side of Manhattan from West 12th to 23rd Street. It is a former Cunard pier that can be found at Little West 12th Street by the Hudson River – the meatpacking district known as Greenwich Village.
The pier was designed by Warren and Wetmore, the architectural firm that designed Grand Central Terminal. It is most famous for being the pier that discharged both RMS Titanic’s passengers and lifeboats from RMS Carpathia on 18th April 1912.
RMS Titanic was originally set to dock at Pier 59; however, the vessel struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic ocean, resulting in the sinking of the ship. Over 1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives at sea, whilst only 705 people survived the maritime disaster. RMS Carpathia was the first to arrive at the scene, and quickly attempted to rescue the survivors before bringing them to America.
40,000 New Yorkers turned up at the pier to welcome the survivors to America. Many organisations were also at the Pier 54 to offer clothing, accommodation and support to the passengers.
Pier 54 continued to host luxury liners until the 1930s; however, a new pier row was built between 44th and 52nd Street to welcome larger liners to New York. As a result, the pier was used for troop ships thoughout WWII, and later became part of the W. R. Grace and Company and United States Lines freight operations.
Plans were made to demolish Pier 54, along with other Chelsea Piers for the Westway highway. Whilst the structure was torn down in 1991, Pier 54 remained an open air pier and the entrance way was preserved. The faded archway still bears the merged Cunard White Star Line name.
In 1998, it was announced as part of the Hudson River Park, and there are many plans to use the pier to celebrate landmark maritime events. The pier has since been used for a variety of concerts and events, including the annual Gay Pride dance in June. It was also used to house shipping containers for The Nomadic Museum art exhibit in 2005. It is also host to a variety of free movies during the summer months.
A support group is now working on a new design to redevelop Pier 54’s original style pier shed, to offer it as a mix-use space.