This Sunday, April 15, is the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The mammoth passenger liner set sail on April 6 with 2,223 people on board from Southampton, England. Bound for Pier 59 in Chelsea in New York city, the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. Within just two hours and 40 minutes, the Titanic had split apart and sunk; 1,157 people drowned in waters of 28 degrees F (-2 degrees C).
The disaster of a ship boasted to be unsinkable immediately fascinated the world and sparked, as an Associated Press article observes, a fascination, if not an obsession and a mania, for disasters.
With the centenary of the Titanic’s sinking here, something like Titanic-mania has been set loose. From its building (the Titanic was one of the three Olympic-class ocean liners of the White Star Line’s fleet) to its calamitous striking of the iceberg, the Titanic’s story is epic in scale. It is also tragic: What better conveys the hubris of us mortals than the tale of an Olympic ship undone by the forces of nature? Many a large-scale disaster, from the BP oil spill, the Challenger explosion, Hurricane Katrina, the Exxon Valdez and the recent grounding of the Costa Concordia — and such non-natural disasters as the subprime mortgage crisis and the European debt crisis — have “all borrowed from the storylines — morality plays, really — established by the Titanic’s sinking: The high-profile investigations … wall-to-wall news coverage … issues of blame, technological hubris, ignored warnings and economic fairness.”
A veritable Titanic industry exists of books, movies, museum exhibits, travel excursions to the site of the ship’s sinking, documentaries and who knows what else. What follows is a selection of ways to remember the Titanic and, most of all, those 1,157 people — many of whom had booked their voyage in hopes of starting a better life in America — who lost their lives.
Image by Willy Stöwer via Wikimedia Commons
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