Too bad this nautical marvel and Art Deco beauty didn’t plough the Atlantic for long.
In 1941, after the Germans took over France and with the Normandie safely docked in New York, the U.S. Coast Guard seized control of the ship.
The plan was to renovate the 1,000-foot liner into a ship for troops and to rename it the USS Lafayette.
Workers were busily converting the 1,000-foot vessel when it caught fire and capsized in its berth on the Hudson in February 1942.
The destruction of the Normandie—everyone thought it was sabotage, but that wasn’t the case—was major news in wartime New York City.
People lined up to view its remains, as Pete Hamill recalls in his memoir, A Drinking Life:
“[His mother] took us there again and again, to gaze at its parched hull, more than a thousand feet long, its giant propellers high out of the water. In my memory, the ruined liner looks humiliated, like a drunk who has fallen down in public.”
After the Normandie was hauled away, its ruins were sold for scrap metal—with a few exceptions.
To this day, the doors—with their intricate medallions showing scenes and sights in Normandy and lovely carvings of trees and leaves—greet visitors to the church at two different entrances at Henry and Remsen Streets.
They’re a quiet remnant of New York during World War II, a time that fewer and fewer residents have any memory of.