TechCrunch Disrupt Day 1 with a Little History on Pier 94

The illustrious history of Pier 94.

Today, Untapped went to check out TechCrunch Disrupt, a social media/tech conference, hackathon and competition all-in-one, with Jordan Cooper of Hyperpublic and Lerer Ventures. For the techies reading, we were particularly interested to see the demo of SonarMe, an app that lets you see how you’re connected with the people around you. The panel judges gave it a thumbs up and Paul Carr liked it, which is apparently a first. We’ll report more specifically on SonarMe in an interview with founder and CEO Brett Martin soon. Meanwhile, GroupMe, the mass texting app which may be more familiar to you, was born last year at the Tech Crunch hackathon and they came back this year to hack and help other developers. For other readers, Ashton Kutcher will be speaking tomorrow, interviewed by Charlie Rose.

But I thought I would actually write about the history of Pier 94, originally built in 1894. At the time, Pier 94 also included two companies with fabulous turn-of-the-century names: Colonial Sand and Gravel and Knickerbocker Ice Company. In 1961, Cunard commissioned a $5 million pier to be constructed for a steamship terminal along what was known then as “luxury liner row.” The deal was for a 20 year lease but on December 31st, 1969, Cunard cargo ship service ended at Pier 94. At the time, the company requested the city to modify the pier for passenger use. Thereafter, it seemed to fall into a natural pattern as both passenger cruise terminal and exhibition space. True to his heritage, the pier often showcased boats–steamships (the Mathilda), military ships (Vietnam destroyer escorts) and more. In 1934, the 8-year old son of Edith Gould snuck onto Furness Liner, Queen of Bermuda, as a stowaway in Bermuda because he wanted to see his father in New York, now divorced from his mother. When the ship docked at Pier 94, the boy was met by his grandmother who paid for his fare.

Passengers from the Queen Elizabeth 2 Cunard steamship during a longshoreman strike at Pier 92 in 1969. Pier 92 was rendered obsolete with the construction of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in 2006.

In 1998, the pier was used exclusively for small exhibitions. Following the events of 9/11, Pier 94 was used as the  Family Assistance Center. Thousands of organizations transformed it in under two days into a single facility where families could go to receive different types of post-disaster help.  In 2008, the pier was combined with Pier 92 in a $100 million redevelopment plan by the New York Economic Development Corporation in partnership with Vornado. Comic-Con, the Armory Show, Architectural Digest came by. Hudson River Park was also expanded as part of this development plan.

Tech Crunch will continue until this Wednesday.

 Brooklyn, red hook, social media, TechCrunch

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