A view of the Philadelphia skyline from the SS United States in South Philadelphia. (Photo: Dan McQuade)
The SS United States has been “saved” before.
In 2010, Gerry Lenfest donated $5.8 million to the Washington-based SS United States Conservancy in an effort to preserve the ship. “At first I said it’s impossible to do it because it costs too much money and then I thought, ‘Well it’s worth a try because it’s a great ship,’” Lenfest told the Inquirer at the time. “It was a great achievement for the United States to build this vessel, she’s worth saving.”
Search Philadelphia magazine’s SS United States tag and you’ll find lots of stories from the past few years about the ship’s fate. Two years ago, the SS United States Conservancy began a plan to clear out the inside of the ship in order to sell materials and prepare the ship for sale. “It’s a great fixer-upper,” Conservancy executive director Susan Gibbs said.
In July 2014, the ship looked like it was headed to Brooklyn. The New York Times reported the ship could be moving to Brooklyn “within four to six months.” Then in December the Conservancy entered into a preliminary agreement to renovate the ship.
Last October, the SS United States announced it was exploring the sale of the ship for scrap. “We will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible recycler,” the Conservancy said in a statement. (Susan Gibbs, the Conservancy’s director, is the granddaughter of ship architect William Francis Gibbs.) Then, last week, the Conservancy announced it would on Thursday make another announcement, this time in Manhattan, about the future of the SS United States.
Though several proposals, including a casino, had been floated for the future of the ship in Philadelphia, a 2011 report from the Conservancy “concluded that it’s not likely to work [in Philadelphia] for a variety of reasons.” So the 20-year stop of the SS United States in South Philadelphia is likely to end. But how did it get here? Read more »