One hundred years ago, Titanic departed Cherbourg, France, before heading on to Queenstown, Ireland – the last stop before heading across the Atlantic Ocean on its maiden, and only, voyage.
Many wealthy and famous passengers had booked their passage on the fabulous new ship, so that they could be the first to experience the most luxurious and largest ship of its time – but let’s take a look at what made the ship so impressive in the first place.
Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches long, 92 feet 6 inches in breadth. Titanic weighed 46,329 tons or 103,575,360 pounds. Titanic was constructed by the shipbuilding firm of Harland & Wolff at their Queen’s Island Works in Belfast, Ireland, one of the largest shipyards in the world; Titanic was built alongside its sister ship, the Olympic, by over 15,000 Irish shipyard workers.
The hull was made of overlapping steel plates, each one-inch thick, and fastened by over three million rivets. Other amazing elements of the ship included 29 boilers that were each more than fifteen feet high, three large anchors (one for each side of the ship’s bow and one center anchor, stowed on the bow deck), one four-bladed center propeller and two three-bladed side propellers that were each 23 1/2 feet across and weighed 28 tons each.
When construction had finished, the final cost was approximately $7.5 million – or more than $123 million in today’s money.
Now, what about that “unsinkable” claim?
Titanic was described in the popular press as “practically unsinkable.” This was not unusual – for decades, ships had watertight compartments to limit flooding in case of an accident, and the press used this phrase as a matter of routine for many years. After Titanic sank, the story of her loss was turned into a modern fable and the original description “practically unsinkable” became just “unsinkable” in order to sharpen the moral of the story. No educated person in 1912 believed that Titanic was truly unsinkable, but it was difficult to imagine an accident severe enough to send her to the bottom.
Have you seen Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Henry Ford Museum yet? What other grand elements of the Titanic fascinated you?