The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic is April 15, 2012. It is well known that the ship had a short life since it sunk on its maiden voyage, but it has lived on in legend. As Eyewitness Books Titanic says:
“The Titanic has had two lives. Its first life was as an ill-fated ship that floated for less than a year. Its second life began the moment the ship struck the iceberg … With countless films, books, musicals, songs, computer games, and websites to its name, the Titanic is now more famous than ever. Phrases associated with the ship – ‘tip of the iceberg,’ ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic,’ ‘and the band played on’ – have all entered the English language… Titanic may lie rusting at the bottom of the Atlantic, but interest in the ship… lives on.”
RMS Titanic took three years to build at cost of $7.5 million dollars. It had electric elevators, a swimming pool, a squash court, a Turkish bath, and a gymnasium with a mechanical horse and camel. A first class ticket on the ship cost $4,350, which translates into approximately $95,000 today.
Tragically, although it was designed to hold 32 lifeboats, only 20 were on board. It was thought that too many boats would ruin the aesthetic beauty of the ship. After hitting an iceberg, the ship sank in less than three hours. Out of 2,228 passengers and crewmembers, only about 700 people survived. The wreckage was located in 1985. It was 12,500 feet down, about 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, Canada. The last survivor was Millvina Dean, who died in 2009 (ironically on the anniversary of the ship’s launching.) She was only eight weeks old at the time of the voyage, so of course had no memories of the ship. Her mother told her the story but seldom wished to speak about it.
The movie Titanic is being released in 3D, marking the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated voyage and the 15th anniversary of the film. The movie won 11 Oscars, including best picture and best director for James Cameron. To prepare for the movie, Cameron first filmed footage of the actual wreck of the RMS Titanic. Next, a reconstruction of the ship was made in California. Computers and scale models were used to create the images of the sinking. At the time, Titanic was the most expensive movie ever made, at a cost of $200 million.
For more information on the RMS Titanic see our reference eBooks and catalog. Also, The Detroit Area Library Network has created a wonderful website with contemporary accounts of the building, launching, and sinking of the ship.
-Anne R., Reference Librarian @ CADL