New York, NY – Today, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn joined Council Members Margaret Chin and Jimmy Van Bramer, Irish Consul-General to New York Noel Kilkenny, British Consul-General to New York Danny Lopez, Northern Ireland Ambassador Norman Houston, Uruguay Consul-General to New York Carlos Orlando, the Ronay Menschel Director at the Museum of the City of New York Susan Henshaw Jones, and museum board member Marty McLaughlin to commemorate the Titanic Centennial with a wreath laying ceremony at Titanic Park. The ceremony also included a prayer in memory of those on the ship who died, led by Father Brendan Duggan of the Brooklyn Archdiocese, and a performance by the New York City Department of Sanitation Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. The participants followed the ceremony with a tour of the South Street Seaport’s new exhibition “Titanic at 100: Myth and Memory.”
“Today, we remember that 100 years ago this week, one of the greatest maritime disasters the world has ever known occurred. Also 100 years ago this week, New York City welcomed my grandmother and the other survivors after their dramatic escape from the Titanic,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “As a young immigrant girl, she was able to make a new life and raise a family. She is a powerful reminder that anything is possible. The Titanic survivors exemplified opportunity, diversity, and a sense of community where people were willing to help each other, and these same qualities are today the very fabric that makes New York City the greatest city in the world.”
“Titanic’s story is the story of New York City’s past and present, as is evidenced by Speaker Quinn’s personal history,” said the Ronay Menschal Director of the Museum of the City of New York Susan Henshaw Jones. “And it’s a story that rightfully continues to captivate us, both because of the magnitude of the tragedy, all the New Yorkers on board, and because it has been made larger than life on screen, stage, song and book, which is currently managing the South Street Seaport Museum.”
“It is very fitting that we should gather in New York to recall the Titanic voyage and the tragic loss of life,” said Irish Consul-General to New York Noel Kilkenny. “The New York ceremony will be particularly poignant for Speaker Quinn whose grandmother survived the Titanic crossing 100 years ago today. The Centenary year is being marked across the island of Ireland as communities remember the lost lives, hopes and dreams.”
“When the RMS Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, it was a catastrophe of unprecedented scale,” said British Consul-General to New York Danny Lopez. “Yet as so often in human history, tragedy brought out the best in many. When the survivors arrived here, New Yorkers, with infinite compassion, opened their arms. As the British Consul-General here in New York, I recognise this as a great and continuing characteristic of a city that has experienced its own very real pain in recent years.”
“A terrible tragedy happened 100 years ago,” said Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau Norman Houston. “One which captured the world’s attention when it happened, but whose story of hope, not just loss, has continued to fascinate people all over the world for generations. Countless books and films have tried to illuminate the events of 1912. Some of those accounts have vividly told the stories of fortitude and the strength of the human spirit, no more so than Nellie Shine, grandmother to New York City Speaker Christine Quinn. The determination and bravery of Nellie Shine is embodied in the daily work of Speaker Christine Quinn, a true friend to Northern Ireland.”
“We are deeply thankful to the honorable Speaker Christine C. Quinn, a true friend of Latino community in New York, for making us part of this remarkable event,” said Consul-General of Uruguay in New York the Honorable Ambassador Carlos Orlando. “Three fellow Uruguayans perished in the Titanic a hundred years ago. Among them was Ramón Artagaveytia, who gave up his place in the life boats to allow the evacuation of women and children. Francisco Carrau y José Pedro Carrau were also on board, having embarked in Southampton to join their family in Uruguay. It is Uruguay’s endeavor to support activities around the world and specially in New York, that honor human integrity, promote brotherhood among nations, help to understand our common past and provide examples for future generations.”
“I am happy to join Speaker Quinn, Council Member Van Bramer, and representatives from the passenger nations to commemorate 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “For over 100 years, immigrants have risked their lives for the promise and opportunity that America offers. For many, the journey to the new world turned to tragedy. While we pause to remember those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic, we must recognize that far too many people still endure hardship and dangerous situations in an effort to come to this country. Today the plight of immigrants and the struggle they face in obtaining citizenship, access to education, and securing a job, is substantial. Under the leadership of Speaker Quinn, the City Council has moved to curtail unjust deportations, create economic opportunities in immigrant communities, and clear the way to citizenship for undocumented students. As an immigrant myself, I am proud to be part of a City Council that recognizes the contributions immigrants make to our city and that prioritizes issues that are important to immigrant communities.”
“Today’s ceremony honors the life and legacy of those who lost their lives 100 years ago on the Titanic,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “As we lay this wreath, we recognize the fact that the story of the Titanic, which includes countless acts of bravery and despair, is forever linked with the story of New York, the intended destination of that faithful voyage.”
“Titanic at 100: Myth and Memory” is an exhibition that examines both the disaster and a century’s worth of fascination with the ship’s dramatic story. The exhibition features original objects from Titanic and her passengers – many of which have never before been publicly displayed – along with interactive elements and artifacts that show how the event has been remembered in popular culture.
The exhibition’s objects, which come from the South Street Seaport Museum’s collections and other important private and public collections, include letters and other original documents, personal artifacts, vintage photographs, a major historical model of the ship, and the mayday communications sent from the Titanic calling for assistance. Among the historical figures represented are John Jacob Astor, Captain E. J. Smith, Bruce Ismay, and Chief Officer Henry Wilde.
Interactive elements and artifacts illustrating the ongoing fascination with the ship’s story and the interpretation of Titanic in popular culture are also on view, including production items ranging from the 1953 feature film Titanic, starring Barbara Stanwyck, to the new four-part miniseries Titanic, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.
The exhibition is being held at the Museum’s Melville Gallery on Water Street, across the street from New York City’s Titanic Park, the site of the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse, dedicated in 1913 on the one-year anniversary of the disaster and today part of the Museum’s collection.
The Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10-6. Through April 2012, admission is $5 and free for children under 9. Starting May 1, admission will be $10 and free for children under 9.