Titanic Memorial Lighthouse
High above South Street was the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse with its gilded time ball.
The memorial lighthouse as seen from the roof -- postcard from author's collection
Photo by Alice Lum
No longer a working lighthouse and no longer on its lofty perch, the Titanic Memorial is largely overlooked by tourists and New Yorkers alike. photo by Alice Lum
Backstory and Context
More than one hundred years ago, on April 15, 1912, the world received the devastating news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. It sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and 2,224 people died. Exactly one year after the sinking of the Titanic, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse and Time Ball, mounted atop the Seamen’s Church Institute, were dedicated to honor the passengers, officers, and crew who perished in the tragedy. The following words were read by Rt. Rev. David H. Greer, Bishop of New York:
To the glory of Almighty God, and in loving memory of those passengers, officers, and crew who lost their lives in the foundering of the steamship Titanic, on April 15, 1912, I, David Hummell Greer, Bishop of New York, and President of the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York, do solemnly dedicate the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse Tower. As its light by night shall guide pilgrims and seafaring men from every clime into this port, so may they follow Him who is the Light of Life across the waves of this troublesome world to everlasting life; and, looking at noon toward this place to note the time of day, may they remember that our days pass as the swift ships, and in view of the shortness and uncertainty of human life, strive to fulfill their duty well, as the beat preparation for Eternity. Amen.
After a long debate, the idea offered by the Seamen’s Benefit Society won out. Thereafter, the new 12-story Seamen’s Church Institute building was built, and it would be completed along with the memorial lighthouse atop of it. The lighthouse was dedicated on the first anniversary of the Titanic Sinking. A fixed green light shone from the memorial lighthouse, and it could be seen throughout the New York Harbor. At noon every day, a time ball would be dropped to remind New York’s citizens of the tragedy that changed the world. The cost of the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse was estimated to be $10,000 at that time.
On this day, the US Government gave permission to allow a green light rather than the typical red.The Titanic Memorial Lighthouse originally stood atop the 12-story Seamen’s Church Institute building, shining the green light and dropping the ball. However, in July of 1968, the 12-story building was demolished, and the Seamen’s Church Institute decided to relocate the lighthouse to another location. That same year, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse was donated to South Street Seaport Museum by the Kaiser-Nelson Steel & Salvage Corporation. In May of 1976, it was erected at its current location, with funds provided by the Exxon Corporation.
Today, the 60-foot lighthouse is no longer working, but the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse has the mission of bringing the visitors closer to the tragic story of the Titanic with respect and pride.
"The 1913 RMS Titanic Memorial Lighthouse -- South Street Seaport" (2011). daytoninmanhattan. Retrieved Mar 18, 2015 from http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2011/09/1913-rms-titanic-memorial-lighthouse.html