The old warship has been part of Philadelphia’s waterfront for 50 years and left lasting impressions on thousands of visitors who heard gripping stories of its role in the Spanish-American War.
Now the Olympia – the last surviving vessel from that 1898 conflict – could face an ignoble end as an artificial reef off Cape May if a new benefactor cannot be found.
The Independence Seaport Museum and the Navy have already checked with officials of New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program on the possibility of sinking the ship, once a source of national pride.
“Another option would be scrapping Olympia,” said James McLane, interim president of the museum, which owns the ship and is adjacent to it at Penn’s Landing. “But the Navy has told us that ‘reefing’ is better because it would allow divers to go down on it and would preserve Olympia.” LINK
I simply can’t believe what passes for rational thinking in Philadelphia. The ongoing destruction of our national as well as local history never seems to stop. I first watched the destruction of the Race St. Firehouse so we could expand the oh-so-needed Pennsylvania Convention Center.
We then were put on the death watch for the SS United States, a historic cruise ship and source of immense national pride. Now it appears that the USS Olympia is being served up as (of all things) an artificial reef! Can anyone make sense of this? Turning a piece of our nation’s military heritage, especially one that managed to survive this long is more than a tragedy. It is a desecration.
Philadelphia has one industry right now and that is tourism. People need a reason to stay and spend money in Philly, and if we keep destroying those reasons no one will bother to come. The Mayor has just decided we need a 10% real estate tax increase among other tax hikes just to stay afloat (NPI). Instead of seizing the opportunity to turn our ever-mismanaged riverfront into a source of pride and revenue, our elected leaders sit by without a clue as to how to IMPROVE our city.
It is simply maddening. With 800 BILLION dollars of federal stimulus money floating around, do you actually expect me to believe that Philly can’t acquire the necessary money to add these two historic ships to a permanent attraction just blocks from Independence Mall? Seriously?
You have to be kidding.