The Call of Hotels: The Jane NYC

by Katelan Foisy

Last October I ventured to NYC to celebrate Chelsea G Summers audible book release “A Certain Hunger.” (You can pre-order a hard copy here.) While there I decided to book a night at one of my favorite hotels, The Jane. I love The Jane for many reasons. I love the Jane for it’s design aesthetic. I love the Jane for it’s balanced rates and good location, but mostly I love the Jane for it’s role in history. The Jane was designed in 1908 by William A. Boring as a hotel for sailors known as the American Seaman’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute. If the architecture looks familiar it’s because William was also the architect for Ellis Island’s immigrant station.

He also created an octagonal shaped tower which until 1946 held a beacon up top. “The octagonal room was originally built as an observatory to be used as a navigation school. It was equipped with a polygonal beacon that was steel framed and clad in copper “whose light flashes a welcome up and down the river,” wrote George Jean Nathan, author of the 1909 article “The Greatest Non-Resident Club in the World” that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar. “ from Untapped NY. The article also links a youtube video of RuPaul’s time living in the Tower from it’s time as a YMCA. The tower is now home to a rooftop bar that gives view to the Hudson and Pier 55 park.

Rooftop bar courtesy The Jane Hotel website.
Rooftop bar courtesy The Jane Hotel website.

In 1912 Titanic survivors came in from the rescue ship CarpathiaatPier 54. With 750 survivors in tow it took four days for the rescue ship to arrive in New York. Family members, onlookers, and charity groups, such as the Travelers Aid Society, and the Women’s Relief Committee, took survivors to get aid and find them shelter. Some of those survivors stayed at the Jane.

Historic photo from early 1900s.
Historic photo from early 1900s.

More than 100 of them gathered one night for a memorial service at which they sang “Nearer, My God, to Thee” with “a mighty, roaring chorus,” according to The New York Times. The sailors were destitute, their pay having stopped the day the Titanic sank, and people left money and clothes for them at the building. – Via Christopher Gray, NY Times.

The hotel was not well kept and by 1931 joined with other organizations to create different types of shelter. Eventually the hotel was sold to the YMCA in 1944. The hotel served as housing for low income individuals including artists and hosted  Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the Million Dollar Club. It became a landmark in 2000. In 2008 the building was renovated into the hotel it is today by Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson, of the Bowery and the Maritime. There were still long term residents when the hotel reopened but I’m unsure if any remain…

Read the full article at The Vardo

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