There’s something very Wes Anderson about the Jane Hotel. Beyond the eclectic shabby chic interior, the check-in desk is staffed by men in bell caps and maroon uniforms. Keys and mail are still stored in the boxes behind the counter and a call bell is rung for the baggage. In the lobby, taxidermy hangs above wood paneled walls with emerald green tiling punctuating the space.

The Jane Hotel was originally built in 1907-08 as the American Seamen’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute, welcoming sailors who had just hopped off their ships when the Hudson River piers were bustling with longshoremen. The rooms here housed survivors of the Titanic after they got off at at Pier 54, just a few blocks away. The hotel has had many lives since, as a YMCA, as a theater, and as an official New York City landmark since 2000. In 2008, the hotel was restored by Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode, who are also responsible for The Bowery Hotel, the Maritime Hotel, and the Waverly Inn. We recently got a behind-the-scenes tour of The Jane Hotel to learn more about it secrets and fascinating history.

1. There’s a Bar in the Tower

Photo courtesy The Jane Hotel

You’ve probably heard of the Jane Hotel Ballroom, one of the more well-known nightlife spots in New York City. But did you know there’s a rooftop bar? There’s no sign in the lobby or outside the hotel that denotes the existence of it, but the top floor turret contains a cozy bar and rooftop terrace. The octagonal room was originally built as an observatory to be used as a navigation school. It was equipped with a polygonal beacon that was steel framed and clad in copper “whose light flashes a welcome up and down the river,” wrote George Jean Nathan, author of the 1909 article “The Greatest Non-Resident Club in the World” that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar. The beacon was taken down in 1946. Fun fact: RuPaul lived in the tower during the 1980s and you can see what this space looked like in YouTube videos.

Photo courtesy The Jane Hotel

Today, a stuffed baboon dressed in tails overlooks the inside of the tower which is outfitted with a wood paneled bar and velvet tufted couches. An antique chandelier with Edison bulbs hangs from the ceiling and in a touch, characteristic of the designers, gold-colored hands emerge from the mirrors — there are actually light scones.

A door leads out to a terrace that offers unobstructed views of the Hudson River. From here, you can see Thomas Heatherwick’s Pier 55 park under construction, the future beach that’s coming to Hudson River Park, and an award winning FDNY marine station. But in all this modernity, don’t forget that when the sailors visited New York, there was once a 13th Avenue right at the site of the future beach.

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