Come take a transatlantic aboard the majestic SS United States with this unidentified family circa 1965 who recorded everything with their trusty 8mm camera. Fascinating color shots of cars being loaded by cargo crane, relaxing on deck, kids playing… set to the music of the Meyer Davis Orchestra, it’s almost like being there! Our thanks to ShipGeek.com for this wonderful video.
Attuned to the attention they constantly received from the press, the Duke and Duchess appear relaxed and smiling as they chat with newsmen aboard the SS United States as it sailed from New York to Europe July 12, 1968 a year before the trans-Atlantic liner was pulled out of service by the United States Line never to sail again.
Will the SS United States survive or end up in the scrap yards like all the other famous transatlantic liners except for the RMS Queen Marry?
You wouldn’t know it to look at her, raddled and rusty and parked in Philadelphia, but the SS United States was young and sexy once. When she was new, in 1952, she was the largest passenger ship ever built in America, and she’s still the fastest ever. The papers were always running photos of celebrities embarking at Pier 86: Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, the duke and duchess of Windsor, Cary Grant. And then, in the Big U’s early middle age, the jet era began: the United States was retired in 1969.
The Duchess of Windsor adjusts the hair of the Duke as they met photographers on arrive in New York on January 31, 1958 aboard the liner SS United States. Planning on spending time in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, the couple had just learned their very good friend Robert R. Young, CEO of the New York Central, had just died. The Windsors said they were in shock and suffering from a personal loss.
The ship now belongs to the nonprofit SS United States Conservancy, which wants to refit her as a multi-use complex: hotel, shopping, offices, maybe a school. Amazingly, the group has proposals in hand and developers in talks. The first phase calls for the public rooms and exterior to be refurbished, incorporating a new American Museum of Design and Discovery. The full build-out would be next, with a ribbon-cutting roughly four years off. (Conveniently, a previous owner stripped the interior, providing a blank, asbestos-free canvas.) This moment, says managing director Dan McSweeney, is “probably the best situation the ship has been in since 1969.” And, he adds, “the last chance.” Other cities are interested, but there are reasons to bring the United States to New York. Putting it in a global city makes sense, doubly so alongside Hudson River Park. We could use hotel rooms by the Javits Center. We have the Intrepid, so there’s precedent for a big ship turned stationary object. Besides: The ship belongs here. It was from West 46th Street that she began her maiden voyage and tied up on her last. It even says so on the stern, where the registry is spelled out: UNITED STATES, NEW YORK. (Thanks to New York Magazine)
The Duchess of Windsor and the Duke are ready to sail for Europe. The royal couple is aboard the SS United States in New York on May 22, 1953. Again, the Duchess is fixing the Duke’s hair again.
THE SS UNITED STATES… the last chance to save the only surviving great American passenger ship.
Everyone loves passenger liners. There is something about their form, their immense size, their power and grace that captivates us. Yet, very few love them enough to put their hands in their pockets when they are old and done.