The SS United States Is Safe — For Now
The SS United States — the luxury liner long docked across from the IKEA in South Philadelphia — has, finally, some good news. According to a release from the SS United States Conservancy, the group has entered into a preliminary agreement for redeveloping the ship. The conservancy did not name the partner, or what its role is, but has received additional funding for three months.
The United States was built in 1952 as a luxury liner intended to break the trans-Atlantic speed record, and it still holds the eastbound and westbound records. Unfortunately for the ship’s builders, transatlantic air service for passengers began in 1958, and the United States made its last run in 1969.
This ship has been docked in South Philly since 1996 — it actually predates the IKEA — and its supporters have waved a long battle to save the ship from the scrap heap. It costs $60,000 a month to keep the ship docked in Philadelphia, and money has been running out for a while. But this week, progress:
We are very pleased to confirm that we have now entered into a preliminary agreement in support of the redevelopment of the SS United States. Negotiations have been underway for some time, and planning will continue with a variety of stakeholders. While further due diligence is conducted, the Conservancy will receive financial support to cover the vessel’s core carrying costs for at least an additional three months.
The project remains at an early and delicate phase, but we wanted to update our supporters about this encouraging development. As you can appreciate, the ship’s potential redevelopment represents a multifaceted engineering, real estate, and curatorial undertaking that will take considerable time to advance. Many challenges must still be overcome. However, we are fortunate that our new partners are very well equipped to handle this unique project’s scope and scale, and the Conservancy looks forward to working closely with them in the months to come.
Over the summer, news broke of competing plans for the ship’s future. One group wanted to move the ship to the Chester waterfront — near Harrah’s Philadelphia casino and racetrack and PPL Park, the home of the Union — while another wanted to move it to Brooklyn. The latter plan seemed more likely; the United States Conservancy is mum on just what the future plans are.