Although most of us think of April 15th as D-Day to pay our taxes, that date in history has an even more tragic significance. This year, it marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the HMS Titanic, claiming more than 1,500 lives. One of the worst maritime disasters in history, the Titanic was on the fifth day of its maiden voyage to New York when it was struck by an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and sank within three hours.
On board the luxury liner was society’s cream: the notable rich of the day, including John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, Abraham Strauss and his wife (founder of Macy’s Department Store) and a host of other millionaires of the Gilded Age. All went down on the glorious ship that with all of its splendor lacked enough lifeboats to save most of the passengers. Before the tragedy, maritime law demanded that the number of lifeboats conform to the tonnage of the ship and not the amount of passengers. A subsequent inquiry into the tragic event changed that forever, but too late for the ship’s doomed passengers and crew.
The Titanic was a goddess among ships; the pride and joy of the White Star Line, and it’s first class compartments were equipped with the most modern amenities, including private toilets which were unheard of in that day. The spectacular grand staircase for first class passengers indicated in the photo above featured large glass domes that allowed natural light to enter during the daytime, oak paneling and detailed carvings, paintings, bronze cherubs and candelabra. Today, that magnificent staircase lies some three miles under the surface of the ocean decaying rapidly from the onslaught of bacteria eating away at the wreck’s metal and leaving behind icicle-like deposits of rust. One day, it will all dissolve into a fine dust and become one with the ocean that has long claimed its once beautiful life as its own.
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