Quote from Eva Hart, Titanic Survivor: “And it wasn’t until we were in the lifeboat and rowing away, it wasn’t until then I realized that ship’s going to sink. It hits me there.”
There were no pictures allowed in the exhibit, but I will try to my best to write what I saw and provide pictures or videos found elsewhere so you get a good idea of what I heard and saw.
It started with the people behind the creation and building of the ship. White Star and Cunard were two cruise lines catering to wealthy guests in the early 1900s. In a bid for domination on the water, J. Bruce Ismay met with shipbuilders, mainly William Pirrie, to construct large vessels built for comfort. They would become White Star’s trio of ships: Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic. We know what happened to Titanic when it sank on April 15, 1912, but Britannic didn’t fare well either. It sank on November 21, 1916 after hitting a mine in the Aegean Sea. Olympic made it until 1935 with 24 years of service. The construction of the Titanic cost 7.5 million and 180 million by 2016 standards (Money Magazine). It took basically three years to build. The tonnage was 46,328, length was 882 feet and 9 inches, height was 175 feet, and depth was 54 feet and 6 inches. The crew number was 892 and there were 20 lifeboats (only capable of holding 1,178 guests). Titanic had 2,228 guests and 1,523 were lost.
The nine decks were as follows.
The Boat Deck held the lifeboats, captain and officer’s rooms, bridge and wheelhouse, and first and second class entrances.
The A or Promenade Deck where only first class guests could walk and also held their rooms, lounge, smoke room, reading and writing room, and Palm Court.
The B or Bridge Deck held first class rooms with private promenades, luxury dining, second class smoking room, second class entrance, and machinery and anchor housing.
The C or Shelter Deck was the highest uninterrupted deck and held the third class promenade, crew rooms, and third class public rooms.
The D or Saloon Deck held three public rooms (first class reception room, first class dining saloon, and second class dining saloon), firemen rooms, and all class rooms.
The E or Upper Deck held all class rooms, crew rooms, and passageway used by third class guests.
The F Deck or Middle Deck held second and third class rooms, crew rooms, third class dining saloon, swimming pool, Turkish bath, and kennels.
The G Deck or Lower Deck held food storage, squash court, post office, and guest rooms.
The Orlop Deck was below the waterline and held cargo spaces, as well as engine and boiler rooms, electrical generators and turbines.
Who were the major officers on Titanic?
The Captain was Edward J. Smith. Henry Tingle Wilde was the Chief Officer. William McMaster Murdoch was the First Officer. Charles Herbert Lightoller was the Second Officer. Herbert John Pitman was the Third Officer. Joseph Groves Boxhall was the Fourth Officer. Harold Godfrey Lowe was the Fourth Officer. James Paul Moody was the Sixth Officer. Smith, Wilde, Murdoch, and Moody died while Lightoller, Pitman, Boxhall, and Lower survived on lifeboats.
I continued to the third class living quarters. I doubt I would get much sleep. It was pretty loud with all the machinery. I’d need ear plugs to try to drown out the sound. It was nothing fancy and guests slept on bunk beds with a total of six in the room. There were only two bathtubs available for all the guests. There were 710 total, but this really didn’t pose a problem since the poor believed frequent bathing caused respiratory disease. They cost between $15 and $40 and 2018 prices would be between $389 and $1,039 although I also found it listed as $172 to $460. The second class living quarters I could sleep in without any issue. There wasn’t much noise to be had and there was a little more space as the beds were built into the walls. There were two to four to a room, but each room had a washbasin and chamber pot. They also used communal bathrooms. They cost $60 and 2018 price would be $1,559 although I also found it listed as $690. The first class was the best living quarters where you could stretch your hands without hitting anything. They were mid ship rooms with decoration to different period styles. The parlor suites came with wardrobe rooms, private baths and promenades. The rooms had phones, heaters, lamps, table fans, and bells. These rooms had interconnecting doors too if you bought two adjacent rooms. They cost $150 and 2018 price would be $3,899 although I found it listed as $1724. The parlor suites cost $4,350 and 2018 price would be $113,078 although I found it listed as $50,000. There is quite a bit of variation in these numbers, but I found the higher costs to be more accurate based on what I found. Either way, many people wanted to go on the Titanic’s maiden voyage and willing to pay for a ticket.
As Mrs. Isidor Straus, I was enjoying all the comforts of first class. The fact my husband owned a Macy’s store in New York City counted for something. What I didn’t know was when Titanic hit the iceberg, it would cause personal valuables to be separated from their owners, but worse countless lives to be lost. A few people I knew were John Jacob Astor IV who died at age 47, Benjamin Guggenheim who died at age 46, William Thomas Steed who died at age 62, and my beloved husband Isidor Straus who died at age 67. After the iceberg damaged the ship on that dark night, the next few hours into the next day of April 15th, were full of terror and chaos. People scrambled to the lifeboats, and you couldn’t get onto them quick enough. When the ship broke apart, the bow disappeared under water. Within seconds everyone was gone and within minutes they had all perished from hypothermia. I could have survived this tragedy, but I wasn’t willing to part with my husband. He didn’t want to go so neither did I. On April 15th I, Ida Straus, gave my life to the water and was 63 years old when I died. My husband’s body was recovered, but mine was not.
Here is the video by National Geographic with James Cameron of what happened when the Titanic hit the iceberg and then sunk. Those that survived would later be rescued by Carpathia (a Cunard ship) including the Straus’ maid, Ellen Bird. There were clear indicators before Titanic hit the iceberg of possible issues, but these were ignored. The officers should’ve listened to other ship communications and had binoculars. The lifeboats should’ve had a lot more people onboard as they had been tested for weight. As the ship was no longer visible because it was now at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, the lifeboats never returned in time to save the others who managed to not sink with the ship. After the incident, blame was flung at anyone within the vicinity. The Titanic is located at about 41°43′57′′ N, 49°56′49′′ W (bow section) and some 13 nautical miles from the position given in its distress signals. It is speculated low-quality steel or weak rivets may have contributed to Titanic’s sinking. Ulsterman Thomas Andrews may have suspected this as he was the engineer who oversaw its construction. He stayed on the ship until the very end and died with it.
The exhibit included personal belongings and kitchen items used in the different class rooms including dishes still stacked in a row. There were cigarettes, perfume bottles, wine bottles, alligator purse, clarinet, and spectacles. In addition to this were parts of the ship including “the big piece.” This was, one of more impressive things to see, although the last remaining survivor thought it shouldn’t have been preserved. Millvina Dean was two months old on Titanic and died on May 31, 2009 at the age of 97. This part of Titanic is from the C Deck and were parts of C-79 and C-81 on the starboard side. The rooms were unoccupied during the voyage. This weighs approximately 15 tons and measures 26 by 12 feet. Part of the glass in the porthole was still there. This is basically the end of the exhibit although I neglected to mention this seemed one of the few ships at the time to allow children from the stories I read.
Here is a brief timeline of the Titanic from its conception to its watery end.