You may know it as that giant ocean liner looming quietly outside of IKEA's cafeteria. A little sign on the store's window identifies her as the SS United States, the luxury passenger liner built in 1952 for $78 million. The ship is the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the US, and the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction. Since 1996, she has been docked at Pier 82, various redevelopment efforts bobbing up and inevitably sinking back below the surface as the ship continues her steady decay in the murky waters of the Delaware. But now, a rumor that the ship may be setting sail for Manhattan's upcoming Pier 57 has emerged.
In a December 2014 email to supporters of the SS United States, Susan Gibbs, Executive Director of the SS United States Conservancy and grand daughter of William Francis Gibbs — the ship's architect and engineer — asserted that they had a 'preliminary' agreement for the redevelopment of the ship. Although no further specifics were mentioned, she promised the ship was "safe for the moment."
Now news has surfaced that RXR Realty, which is part of the joint venture redeveloping Pier 57 on the Hudson River in New York City, is floating the idea of docking an out-of-commission cruise liner next to the structure to use as a hotel. "We're looking at bring a ship, one of the large retired ocean liners to potentially create a hotel facility next to [the pier]," Michael Maturo, president of RXR, said recently.
While we wait on news confirming or denying that the ocean liner in question is indeed the SS United States (rumor has it that the Queen Elizabeth II, currently laid up in Dubai, is also a potential candidate for Pier 57), local videographer and drone operator Chris DeAntonio brings us aboard the ship, giving most of us a first up-close glimpse of the vessel that has shared our IKEA meals and accompanied us on drives from PHL for the last two decades. Speaking of the ship's proximity to the airport, DeAntonio assured viewers that he "stayed very low, flying just a tad bit higher than her funnels."
· Forgotten Philadelphia: The SS United States [Vimeo]
· Hope still floats for SS United States [Curbed Philly]
· RXR floats idea of cruise-ship hotel at SuperPier [The Real Deal]
· SS United States or QE2 Heading for Pier 57 in Manhattan? [Cruise Industry News]