An elaborate, six months- in-the-making hoax has tourists who visit Battery Park, Manhattan fooled.
Usually, in historical areas with heavy foot traffic you’ll find monuments offering insight into a city’s past.
The Staten Island Ferry Disaster Memorial is one of those only the details carved onto the plaque are completely false.
The hoax was created by artist Joe Reginella and falsely honors 400 make-believe victims who supposedly disappeared during an octopus attack involving a Staten Island ferry who went by the name of Cornelius G. Kolff. The fake tragedy “occurred” on November 22, 1963, the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The practical joke took six months to plan and is part of a multimedia art project and social experiment. Not everyone is laughing at the pseud-tragedy though. Reginella claimed he was berated by one tourist who wasn’t fond of his fake story. There’s even an entire website dedicated to the fake tragedy and a false location for a museum.
The satirical plaque reads:
“It was close to 4am on the quiet morning of November 22, 1963 when the Steam Ferry Cornelius G. Kolff vanished without a trace. On its way with nearly 400 hundred people, mostly on their way to work, the disappearance of the Cornelius G. Kolff remains both one of New York’s most horrific maritime tragedies and perhaps its most intriguing mystery.
Eye witness accounts describe “large tentacles” which “pulled” the ferry beneath the surface only a short distance from its destination at Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan. Nobody on board survived and only small pieces of wreckage have been found…strangely with large “suction cup-shaped” marks on them.
The only logical conclusion scientists and officials could point to was that the boat had been attacked by a massive octopus, roughly half the size of the ship. Adding to the tragedy, is that this disaster went almost completely unnoticed by the public as later that day another, more “newsworthy” tragedy would befall the nation when beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.
The Staten Island Ferry Disaster Museum hopes to correct this oversight by preserving the memory of those lost in this tragedy and educating the public about the truth behind the only known giant octopus-ferry attack in the tri-state area.”
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