The Saturday Evening Post

Titanic Fanatics

On an overcast June day in 2015, Dave Gardner, a short man with graying hair under his beanie, was intently focused on photographing the corroded archway of a long-disused Hudson River pier in lower Manhattan. As disinterested passersby ignored him, he took picture after picture, all the while simultaneously assessing possible ways to get onto the rotting pier.

A little more than a century before, an excited crowd of 30,000 people were massed right where Gardner stood now and stretching back several city blocks. They were anxiously awaiting the 705 survivors of the Titanic arriving on the ship that rescued them, RMS Carpathia.

Gardner’s a tour guide who considers it his responsibility to document Titanic landmarks in New York. Now he was paying what might be his final respects before the pier was scheduled to be demolished, to be replaced by a floating park. He was there to take what might be the last photos of the pier, but he wanted to do more.

He walked an 8-foot-tall fence, looking for a place to slip through. If he could find that, he could do it: He could save some rusted pipe, hunks of asphalt, and a few old bricks.

Suddenly he saw the word ROSE — the name of Kate Winslet’s character in the 1997 film Titanic — stamped on the side of a heap of bricks from the pier. “When I saw that,” Gardner later wrote on Facebook, “I wanted them … bad.”

In truth, it was really the manufacturer’s name. And, granted, Rose was fictional — but Gardner knew fellow enthusiasts would be thrilled to see and own these bricks, even though the original pier actually had burned down in 1932 and collapsed

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