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In 1912, a luxury British steamship set sail carrying 2,223 passengers and crew. After stopping in Cherbourg, France, Queenstown, and Ireland, the ship then took off to head for New York City. What many of people think of when they see or hear of a ship, is a luxury cruise or sunshine. The titanic was much more than that to a lot of the passengers because this was their ticket to freedom. The ship carried three classified passengers; the rich, middle class, and poor immigrants.
In New York, there was an immigrant island called Ellis Island. This is where immigrants traveled to begin their new life away from their country. Not all immigrants who arrived were granted access into the island, many had health issues or illnesses causing them to be sent to hospitals or detained until a family member could claim them.
Ellis Island was a place for over twelve million immigrants to start their new life in the United Sates. Between the 1880s and the 1920s, the United States was bombarded with over nine million immigrants, who also arrived by many different ships to New York City. Due to this large number, Ellis Island was built in order to process all of the immigrants and to keep all information organized. Just a few years before the Titanic, one million immigrants came through to the island, which was a record for them in a year span.
All passengers on the Titanic were responsible for purchasing their tickets to get onto the ship. First class tickets for the parlor suite were $4,350, first class for the berth was $150, second class was $60, and third class was $40. Third class tickets ranged from seven to forty pounds, which would be around $700 today and children were around three pounds, which is about $300 today.
The immigrants aboard the ship were either third class or held in the steerage of the ship. They paid a lower rate for their living quarters, because being on the ship was not their main concern and they were not as wealthy as first or second class. The passengers held in the steerage actually made out better than the others. The food and accommodations were far better than the other passengers and was more comfortable than their normal home life. Over half of the passengers on the Titanic were registered as steerage and were also the greater amount who lost their lives on the ship during the sinking. Over three quarters of the deaths were people who were held in the steerage.
The living quarters for the third class and steerage for the four days aboard the ship was actually not as expected. Third class passengers had automatic flushing toilets due to their lack of knowledge with indoor plumbing. When wanting to stroll around, the third class had to do so on the B bridge deck because they were not allowed on the Boat deck. This deck was also accompanied by cargo and equipment, which caused the space to be very crowded.
First class passengers had it made with all of the amenities offered to them on the ship. The had access to the gymnasium that had basic exercise equipment. The reading and writing room was designed for women of this class and the lounge was also available to them. The first-class smoke room was towards the back of the Promenade Deck and also offered a bar for guests. There were exactly thirty-nine private suites for the first class. All including a private toilet facility, two bedrooms, two wardrobe rooms and a bathroom. First class had the luxury of the best food aboard. They would feast on pâté de foie gras, peaches in chartreuse jelly and waldorf pudding. They had meals up to thirteen courses, all including a different wine. This class had 319 people reported as first class.
Second class passengers were still living lavish, quite comparable to the first class actually. They also had a dining hall, smoke room and a library. After their dinners, the men were allowed to make their way to the smoke room, while the women would make their way to the library. The second-class rooms were similar to the first-class rooms and the first and second class were not treated any differently. Second class shared a dining hall with the first class, so sometimes they were lucky enough to enjoy some of the same dishes. They were not treated with the wine pairings and fanfare. With the least number of passengers, second class had 272.
The third-class passengers were less than both the first and second class. This class had a smoke room, dining room and a general room. These passengers slept on bunk beds and also shared rooms like second class passengers did. There were only two bathtubs for up to seven hundred passengers. The designers of the third-class rooms tried to keep the cabin feel for the rooms, but they were still shared with two to six passengers on the ship. They were also grouped by family or gender. These rooms had electricity and heat that was awakening for the immigrants because many had never had this. The children of this class were usually found playing on the deck or exploring. Third class had great meals, but theirs featured hearty stews, vegetable soup, roast pork with sage and onions, boiled potatoes, currant buns, biscuits and freshly baked bread with plum pudding and oranges. Where most of the third-class passengers came from, not many of them had fresh fruits and vegetables, so these meals were greatly appreciated by them. The third class had the highest number of passengers, at 709.
The attire for the classes all matched with their rank. First class men wore tuxedo style suites, top hats, and polished shoes, while women wore corsets and gowns. Second class men and women wore posh clothes. Third class men wore britches and shirts, while women wore long skirts, boots, and blouses.
When the Titanic finally made its way to New York with the passengers that survived the crash, the federal immigration officers waived the proper examinations for the immigrants who survived. The immigrants were sent to hospitals to be examined and waited for their paperwork to be processed in the meantime. Some of the surviving passengers from the ship changed their minds about their quest once they arrived in New York due to the tragedy they just suffered. Many decided to go back home to be with the family they still had left after losing the ones on the ship. Others stayed in America, where they decided to continue the adventure they had set for themselves.
The main reason that the passengers who survived did, was due to the twenty lifeboats held on the ship. These twenty life boats were able to hold 1,178 people. The actual Titanic was designed to carry thirty-two lifeboats, but due to the space on the deck, they felt that many lifeboats would be too cluttered. The existing Board of Trade required a ship to provide room for 1060 people. The titanic carried 2,223 passengers including crew members with a capacity of 3,547. Only approximately 700 passengers survived the crash to tell about it, many being Americans and Japanese. After the sinking, around 340 bodies were found and about 1,160 bodies remained lost.
In 2009, one of the last surviving passengers of the titanic passed away at ninety-seven years old. Eliza Gladys Dean was only two months old when her father, mother, brother, and her decided to part from the United Kingdom and travel to Wichita, Kansas. Here, her father had relatives and a family owned tobacco shop that he was going to co-own. When the ship hit the iceberg, Dean’s father gathered up his family, who were third class passengers on the ship and brought them to the top deck. They then were one of the first groups on people to aboard a life boat and exit the ship safely. During their escape, the father did not make it and his body was never identified if found. Her mother took both of the children, and returned to Britain on another ship.
After decades of life for this lady, she decided to spend some of her time going to conventions, documentaries, and interviews based on the Titanic and what it is like to be a survivor. She also had many unique souvenirs from the Titanic that she ended up selling to pay for some of her medical expenses. A note that the Titanic Relief Fund sent to her mother and a recovered suitcase from the ship were the first two things that she parted with.
The main decision that all third-class and immigrants chose, was a new life for themselves and their family. The titanic offered them direct access to the new life they were seeking. Due to the unfortunate events of the ship hitting an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic, their dreams and lives were cut short. Some of them were lucky enough to have surviving family members to live out their dreams for them and still be able to provide a better life. This historic event set trends for other immigrants and has been the inspiration for thousands of books, films, and conventions.
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