Although the Titanic lies in 13,000 feet of water, the enduring story still captures minds and hearts throughout the world. We've uncovered 18 American-Irish links to the famous liner that you may not already know!
The Ship Itself
- RMS Titanic was actually owned by an American! Although the RMS Titanic was registered as a British ship, it was owned by the American tycoon, John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan, whose company was the controlling trust and retained ownership of the White Star Line! He also owned US Steel, General Electric, as well as global financial services firm JP Morgan Chase & Co which still thrives today.
- When Titanic was launched on 31st May 1911 spectators and journalists travelled from as far as America to see the spectacle.
Titanic's passenger list included some of the crème de la crème of early 20th-century business, culture, high society, and sports on both sides of the Atlantic. There were many famous American passengers who were meant to travel on Titanic but for different reasons did not! These included:
- J.P Morgan was supposed to accompany Titanic on her maiden voyage but took ill. He died shortly after the Titanic disaster in 1913.
- Milton S. Hershey, founder of the North America’s largest chocolate firm, was due to travel on Titanic but was needed home at an earlier date.
- Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, the multimillionaire sportsman, and heir to the Vanderbilt shipping and railroad empire, was returning from a trip to Europe and cancelled his passage on the Titanic so late that some early newspaper accounts listed him as being on board. Vanderbilt lived on to become one of the most celebrated casualties of the Lusitania sinking three years later.
There were also many notable American passengers who did travel on Titanic...
- The owner of Macy’s Department Store, New York, Mr Isidor Straus, and his wife, Ida, both lost their lives on Titanic. A memorial plaque for them can be seen today at the 34th Street Memorial Entrance of Macy's Herald Square.
- The owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, John Jacob Astor and his nineteen year old wife were on board the ship. According to the New York Times Astor “put up and owned more hotels and skyscrapers than any other New Yorker”, he was estimated to be worth as much as $200 million and was the richest man on Titanic!
- Around 300 American passengers were aboard the ship for Titanic’s maiden voyage.
- According to a study by David Savage, a behavioural economist at Queensland University of Technology, American passengers were 8.5% more likely to survive than other nationalities.
- Like the movie, there was an American lady called Margret ‘Molly’ Brown on board the ship! Not only did she survive the Titanic's sinking but helped others board lifeboats, eventually becoming known as the "The Unsinkable Molly Brown”.
The Discovery of Titanic
- Titanic of course sank on route to New York and now lies 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, nearly two and a half miles (4000m) below sea level overlooking a small canyon below.
- The wreck of the ship was discovered by American oceanographer, Dr. Robert Ballard 73 years after it sunk in 1985.
- The discovery of the Titanic stemmed from a secret United States Navy investigation of two wrecked nuclear submarines from the Cold War (U.S.S. Thresher and U.S.S. Scorpion). When Ballard had completed his mission, he was able to go and look for the Titanic.
The Home of Titanic – Titanic Belfast
- Titanic Belfast has now welcomed over 159,000 American visitors since opening in 2012. Located on the very spot where the Titanic was built and launched, the Titanic Experience tells the story not only of the ship but the city that made her and her passengers.
- Film director James Cameron, Former United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, the American rock bad Journey and Jonathan Knight from New Kids On The Block have all visited Titanic Belfast, with James Cameron described it as ‘phenomenal’ and ‘magnificent.’
- The concept architect of Titanic Belfast, Eric Kuhne, is from Texas, USA. The New Yorker, described the iconic building as “Northern Ireland’s answer to the Sydney Opera House.”
- The building also tells the Titanic story as the ‘hulls’ of the building are the same height as the ship, while on the plaza surrounding the building is one of the largest maps of the Northern Hemisphere at 10,000 m2 and follows the route of the Titanic from Belfast to America.
- Titanic Belfast also operates the SS Nomadic, the tender ship to RMS Titanic, the last remaining White Star Line vessel and the biggest Titanic artefact in the world. Hollywood royalty including Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton travelled on board when it was a tender to luxury liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Guests can follow in their footsteps and climb on board and see the original ornate doors, panels, plasterwork and staircases.
Want to know more? Delve deeper into the Titanic story by visiting our world class exhibition! Plan your visit or book tickets now!