Thursday, March 17, 2011
Traveling Thursdays: Mom Goes To Europe, 1955, Pt. 1
As a college graduation gift, my grandmother took my mom on a trip to Europe. The two set sail for Europe on September 2, 1955, aboard the SS United States. Built in 1952, The SS United States was a luxury passenger liner designed to capture the trans-Atlantic speed record. Costing $78 million, the ship was the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the United States, the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction, and even in retirement retains the Blue Riband (yes, correct spelling!) given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed.
To minimize the risk of fire, the designers of The SS United States used no wood in the ship’s framing, accessories, decorations or interior surfaces. Fittings, including all furniture and fabrics, were custom made in glass, metal and spun glass fiber to ensure compliance with fireproofing guidelines set by the U.S. Navy. Though the galley did feature a butcher block, the clothes hangers in the luxury cabins were aluminum. The ballroom’s grand piano was of a rare, fire-resistant wood species, though originally specified in aluminum — and accepted only after a demonstration in which gasoline was poured upon the wood and ignited. Fortunately for music lovers aboard the ship, the piano didn’t ignite!
The SS United States operated uninterrupted in transatlantic passenger service until 1969; since 1996 she has been docked at Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, just rotting away. Interested in finding out more about the SS United States and its current preservation efforts? Visit the Conservancy website.
Off in the distance is Ellis Island:
The Statue of Liberty:
My grandmother sure liked her Winston cigarettes; the guy next to her...doesn’t look like she cared for him very much.
Mom enjoying the salty sea air.
The height of trans-Atlantic travel fashion.
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