PROLOGUE The Way It Was
The transatlantic ocean liner possessed a mystique now lost to the world. For the first half of the twentieth century, ships named Mauretania, Bremen, Normandie,
and Queen Mary
were known and loved by tens of millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic. When a big liner arrived in New York City for the first time, thousands lined the Hudson to watch a man-made object—one that seemed to have life and soul—move serenely upriver. Their eyes were following something simply massive—she could be up to five city blocks long and twelve stories high, her...
SIZE, LUXURY, AND SPEED
The first time he saw an ocean liner, little Willy Gibbs knew what he wanted to do with his life.
On a rainy November 13, 1894, twenty-five thousand people waited outside the gates of Philadelphia’s Cramp Shipyard on the banks of the Delaware River. They were there to see a marvel of the age: the steamship St. Louis,
one of the largest ocean liners in the world and America’s brand-new entry into the transatlantic passenger trade. When the gates opened, people surged toward the ship. She was 550 feet long and decorated from stem to stern with flags of the...