Joe Colletti grew up in Hunter’s Point Queens. He began collecting Titanic memorabilia after seeing “Raise the Titanic”, the 1980 adventure film. In 1984 he set up a memorial to the Titanic and the survivors on the outside (and eventually inside) of his Queens townhouse. Besides old newspaper clippings and photographs of survivors being added to his brownstone’s facade, there was also an abundance of knickknacks that adorned the memorial. Plastic frogs, flowers and squirrels; porcelain cupids and ship captains; even a “Photography Permitted” sign were neatly displayed at the site. The landmark drew so much attention from the locals that the Village Voice awarded Colletti the title of “Best Public Displayer of an Obsession.” Mr. Colletti also interviewed as many survivors of the shipwreck as possible.
In 2015, the home was put up for sale and the collection was taken in by The Greater Astoria Historical Society. The Historical Society continues to work with Titanic Joe on the collection. Joe moved to Sunnyside, Queens.