In the spring of 1912, the Titanic set sail from Southampton en route to New York City. Only the most elite passengers were onboard this “unsinkable” ship because Titanic tickets were very hard to come by (and very expensive). Since that fateful day when the ship collided with a large iceberg, the legend of the RMS Titanic has lived on in books, television, and of course, James Cameron’s iconic film.
The movie Titanic gave us a sense of what happened on that ship, but it can never give us a true picture— only true pictures can do that. See what the Titanic looks like today, and view some rare photos from onboard its maiden voyage.
The Maiden Voyage
The Titanic was a gigantic ocean liner. The name “Titanic” actually comes from Greek mythology. The Titans were the gods that preceded the Olympians. This massive ship set sail on April 10, 1912, with over 2000 people on board, including passengers, staff, and crew members.
This was not a cheap ship to build. It cost around $7,500,000 to construct. People around the world saw the Titanic as a technological achievement. This ship was supposed to be expertly constructed.
It Didn’t Sail For Very Long
Just four days after it set sail on its maiden voyage, the Titanic famously collided with an iceberg. That collision proved to be fatal for the ship (and for many of the passengers on board).
In the 1980s, divers were finally able to explore the remains of this once magnificent vessel. Sadly, the Titanic sank only four days into its maiden voyage after colliding with an iceberg. In the ’90s, photographers were able to capture haunting images of the boat sitting at the bottom of the sea.
The Captain Of The RMS Titanic
This is a photo of Captain Edward John Smith and Lord James Pirrie in 1911, just one year before the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Smith was a well-respected captain who had steered many large ships in his lifetime.
According to several reports, Captain Smith was actually asleep in his cabin when the Titanic hit the iceberg. He did everything he could to get people off the ship and into lifeboats, but he wasn’t able to save himself. Some people say he drowned, while others say he committed suicide with a pistol.
A Second Class Woman Sells Lace On The Ship
This is a photo of an Irish passenger on board the Titanic who was a member of the middle-class. She stayed on the second-class deck and she spent time selling goods to people who wanted to buy them. There were no rules against selling merchandise while on the ship, so many of the second-class passengers used the voyage as an opportunity to make some money.
This woman was likely traveling to America to try to make a new life for herself there.
The Real Grand Staircase
You probably recognize this staircase from James Camron’s 1997 film, but you might be surprised to learn that this isn’t a photo of a set-piece. This is what the actual Grand Staircase looked like on the titanic. It has since become one of the most recognizable parts of the ship.
This staircase was only for the first-class passengers. The ship’s designers were particularly proud of this feature. It was intended to be the focal point of the whole vessel.
There Was Music Until The Bitter End
In the movie, you see the band on board the ship decide to continue playing as the Titanic sinks. Legend has it that this is what actually happened. The musicians accepted their fate and decided to go out in style.
This photo was taken before the musicians had any idea that the vessel they were on would lie on the bottom of the ocean floor in just a few days. The leader of the band was named Wallace Hartley, and it was his idea to keep playing as the ship sank to keep the passengers calm.
The Gym On The Titanic
This is a photo of the small gymnasium that was on board the Titanic. It had some very old-timey fitness equipment inside it including an electric camel, electric horse, and cycling machines. The man in this photo is using an antiquated rowing machine (which seems pretty ironic considering that people actually had to row for their lives when the ship sank).
The gym was open for ladies from 9 am to noon, and for men between 2 and 6 pm.
The Children Had Their Own Games Deck
There were a lot of children on board the Titanic. These kids (all 126 of them) needed to be entertained. There was a deck on the ship that was reserved for games, which is where those children spent most of their time. The boy in this photo is playing shuffleboard on the Promenade Deck.
Children were also allowed to use the gym between 1 pm and 3 pm. Sadly, 60 of those 126 children didn’t survive the crash.
A Lounge For The First-Class Passengers
This is a photo of an ornate lounge that was reserved for first-class passengers. The lounge was located on Deck A, and it was used for smoking, meetings, lunch, card games, and business affairs.
People who were considered first-class had to pay the equivalent of $1,700 per ticket in today’s dollars. This lounge looks pretty fancy. Do you think it’s worth $1,700, though? It’s definitely not worth that much at the bottom of the ocean.
Where Passengers Got Fresh Haircuts
There were not one, but two barbershops onboard the Titanic. People were planning to be on this boat for a while, so they needed a place to get a trim or shape up their beards. There were two separate barbers because one was only for first-class passengers while the other was only for second-class passengers.
Third-class passengers didn’t get a barber. Passengers could also buy small trinkets, hats, ties, and souvenirs at these barbershops.
Café Parisien Was Strictly For Tea Time
The indoor lounge was a great place to kick back and relax, but if you were looking for something a little bit more refined, the Café Parisien was the place to be. This café overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. No other ocean liner had a café quite like this one. This place was especially popular amongst the younger first-class folk.
This restaurant served food such as oysters, clams, salmon, roast duckling, and vanilla éclairs. It was all very French.
What Life Was Like For The Lower Class
The passengers on the Titanic weren’t all wealthy. There had to be people below deck keeping everything in working order. The ship ran on coal, so there constantly needed to be men in the boiler room feeding the engines.
Onboard the Titanic, there were six boiler rooms that held 29 boilers. It took 179 men to keep all of those boilers running. They filled those boilers with 600 tonnes of coal every day. It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it.
What A First-Class Cabin Looked Like
The first-class sleeping cabins on board the Titanic were sophisticated, ornate, and comfortable. Rooms like this one contained a four-poster bed, a desk, chairs, reading lamps, and if the film is to be believed, a chaise longue or two.
The first-class cabins were all located on the B Deck. Sadly, the B Deck became completely inescapable as the water within the ship began to rise. Many of the people staying in this part of the ship were trapped when the ship sank.
What A Second-Class Cabin Looks Like
The second-class sleeping cabins were less ornate and spacious than the first-class cabins, but they were still very comfortable. These rooms contained bunk beds, kitchenettes, and private bathrooms. There were some cabins that were a bit more lavish that could serve as first-class cabins if there was a need.
The second-class cabins spanned from the C Deck to the E Deck. Many of these passengers, especially the ones on the lower decks, couldn’t escape when the Titanic sank.
Finally, What Third-Class Cabins Looked Like
This is a picture of a third-class cabin. This is where many of the people who worked on the ship spent their nights. Some people have said that these cabins look more like jail cells than sleeping quarters. The cabins were pretty cramped and had at least four beds in them.
These rooms were located at the bottom of the boat on the F Deck and the G Deck, which meant that these rooms were the first to flood.
This Is The Third-Class Dining Area
This is where the third-class passengers ate their meals while on board the Titanic. It was a cafeteria that was located on the ship’s lower deck. Even though this room wasn’t exactly fancy, many of the passengers who ate in here were impressed by the fancy silverware on the tables.
In this room, third-class passengers were served basic meals such as porridge, vegetable stew, baked potatoes, and occasionally, roast beef. Even though this dining hall wasn’t as extravagant as the upper lounges, it was still functional and comfortable.
The Social Lounge For Second-Class Passengers
This room looks pretty nice for a second-class lounge. Believe it or not, the first-class lounges were even fancier than this. This place has some French flair because the designer of the Titanic wanted to mimic French style.
IN this room, people played cards and other games. Sometimes third-class passengers would try to sneak in and enjoy this space too. Can you blame them? This place is so much nicer than the third-class dining hall.
The Decks Were Always Kept Clean
Even though certain decks were reserved for certain passengers, all of the decks were kept in tip-top shape. The decks were always clean and kept in food condition. This is because the decks were separated into sections for each class. If the third-class deck wasn’t clean, the first-class deck wouldn’t be either.
This meant that third-class passengers were enjoying some of the first-class experience. Even if they didn’t have the ornate cabins, they still had nice decks.
How Luggage Got On The Boat
This photo of a smaller ship unloading luggage onto the Titanic was one of the first photos taken of the ship’s maiden voyage. You can see the passengers on the deck eagerly waiting to watch their bags get loaded onto to ship. On other ocean liners, passengers were responsible for carrying their own baggage on board.
This was the first time that employees were paid to carry luggage on board for passengers. This later became common practice in the cruise ship industry.
The Propellers Compared To The Crew
This picture of the Titanic’s crew next to the ship’s propellers illustrates just how large this ship was. The propellers were a staggering 23 feet across. They weighed 38 tonnes each.
These propellers were actually the largest ever to be built. No ship has ever had propellers larger than these ones, even in the present day. The weight of the ship may have been part of the reason why it sank so quickly after it hit the iceberg.
What The Propellers Look Like Today
When divers were looking for remains of the Titanic underwater, they were especially interested in how those very large propellers would hold up against time and ocean currents. Even though these propellers have been at the bottom of the ocean for more than a century, they’re still fairly intact and recognizable. That is a testament to how sturdy this piece of machinery was.
Many of the other parts of the Titanic have been swept away by ocean currents, but the propellers still remain.
The First-Class Reading Room
The reading room was designed to be a space for ladies to “retreat” to after dinner. The men would stick around in the lounge and talk about manly things. This space was decorated with pink curtains to make it feel more feminine.
This room didn’t get used a whole lot, though. A new era was upon us, and the women preferred to be involved in all of that “manly” conversation. The designer of the ship realized that the room wasn’t getting much use, so he didn’t include a reading room in the design of his next vessel.
The Only Fully Open Deck
The top deck of the Titanic was also known as the Boat Deck. It’s where all of the lifeboats were stored, and it was the only deck that was completely open to the elements.
The Boat Deck was separated into four sections, so everybody could come out and enjoy the sea air if they wanted. There was a section for officers, for engineers, for first-class passengers, and for second-class passengers. Third-class passengers weren’t allowed on the Boat Deck.
The Indoor Swimming Pool Stayed Dry The Longest
Even though the Titanic was completely surrounded by water, it featured a swimming pool indoors for people who wanted to swim a few laps while on board. It’s now pretty common to see swimming pools on cruises, but the Titanic was one of the first ocean liners to have an indoor pool.
The swimming pool room was completely waterproof, which means that it was actually one of the last rooms on the boat to flood.
People Loved Tea Time
The Titanic left from Britain, and the British passengers aboard this ship needed to have their tea time. In this photo, first-class ladies are enjoying their afternoon tea while a band plays in the background. Tea time isn’t just time for tea, it’s also time for buttered toast and finger sandwiches. In Britain, tea is a small meal that people eat between lunch and dinner.
People could also get alcoholic beverages at tea time if they wanted to indulge in some fancy liqueurs.
Even The Less Grand Staircases Were Fancy
The Grand Staircase was the piece de resistance on the Titanic, but the other staircases on the ship weren’t too shabby either. Third-class passengers didn’t get to spend much time near the Grand Staircase, but they didn’t get to climb up and down the other staircases on the ship which were pretty lavish in their own right.
The stairs in this photo are covered in lush green carpet and the banisters are made out of carved dark oak.
The Titanic In Construction
This is a photo of the Titanic before it was fully built. The large reddish structure in the middle of the photo is a massive metal crossbeam that ran through the center of the entire ship. There’s a man standing next to it keeping an eye on the progress of the Titanic’s construction.
Construction began on the Titanic on March 31, 1909, at the shipyard seen here in Belfast. It took 26 months for the ship to be completed.
The Radio Station On The Ship
In this photo, you can see a young radio operator working away in the radio station onboard the Titanic. Jack Phillips was the senior radio operator on the ship who worked during the day and took time off at night. He was the one who sent out the distress signals to other ships while the Titanic was sinking.
Unfortunately, by the time Jack Phillips woke up and realized what was happening, it was too late.
The Lifeboats That Saved Lives
There were not nearly enough lifeboats on board the Titanic to save everybody on the ship. We know today that some of the lifeboats even left the deck half full. Had there been proper emergency protocols in place, even more lives could have been saved.
There were only 20 lifeboats on the Titanic, which was enough to save just half of the people on the ship. Additionally, the lifeboat launcher didn’t work properly and the crew wasn’t trained on how to properly launch a lifeboat.
How The Lifeboats Were Used
At 11:45 pm on the night that the Titanic hit the iceberg, the first lifeboat was launched from the main ship. The rest of the 20 lifeboats were launched from then until 2:15 am. The first lifeboat that was launched reached the RMS Carpathia at 4 am. I wasn’t until 8:30 am that the Carpathia reached the final cluster of lifeboats.
This is a photo of a lifeboat occupied by mainly women and children. Women and children were given first priority when it came to lifeboats.
After The Disaster
This is a photo of the survivors of the Titanic warming up on the deck of the RMS Carpathia. This boat received the distress signal from the Titanic, and the rerouted its course to rescue the passengers who managed to get out of the ship alive.
The Carpathia go to the Titanic two hours after the ship had already sunk. Thanks to this ship and its crew, 712 of the original Titanic passengers were rescued.
The Carpathia’s Crew Was Honored For Their Heroism
The 712 survivors of the Titanic could not have survived without the help of the Carpathia’s crew. In this photo, you can see how Captain Arthur Rostron and his senior crew were honored for their heroism. They were presented with a silver cup by the survivors of the Titanic.
Captain Rostron later went on to be an honored guest of President Taft at the White House. He was also presented with the Congressional Gold Medal.
They Even Saved The Lifeboats
Thirteen lifeboats full of people were rescued by the Carpathia, and the crew of the Carpathia decided to save the actual lifeboats as well. They took them on board and intended to bring them to New York and return them to the White Star Line.
While the lifeboats were sitting at Pier 59, many looters looking for souvenirs came and destroyed the boats. These boats are now lost, just like the rest of the Titanic.
People Around The World Donated Money To Help The Victims
People in England, America, and around the globe were shocked by the news of the Titanic’s demise. This ship was supposed to be unsinkable, after all. People wanted to help those who had been affected by this disaster.
In this photo, a boy scout troop in Stratford, England is raising money for the survivors of the Titanic. The White Star Line company that built the Titanic set up a relief fund to help those who were injured or lost loved ones.
Finally On Dry Land
In this photo, you can see the survivors as the arrived in New York City. These people were completely rattled and shocked, and many of them were left with nothing. Some had family in New York who could take them in, but others had to wait for help in a makeshift shelter.
Many kind people who lived in New York opened up their homes to people who had survived the sinking of the Titanic.
Profiting From The Disaster
After news of the Titanic sinking reached the public, it didn’t take long for people to find ways to capitalize on the tragedy. In this photo, a woman is selling a print of the now famous ship. People were selling everything from postcards to figurines to newspapers.
All of those trinkets have only increased in value over the years. If anybody still had the newspaper from 1912 when the Titanic sank, it would be worth a fortune.
A Real British Welcome
In this photo, men, women, and children gather around the gates at the Belfast shipyard to welcome the Titanic survivors home. The survivors who wanted to return to Britain had to get back on a boat and make the long journey across the pond. You can imagine that the survivors weren’t so keen on boats after all they had been through. T
Lots of people gathered in Belfast, but even more people gathered in New York City. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers waited for the survivors to dock at their pier on April 18, 1912.
The Legal Fallout
After the public had time to process their grief, they became outraged at the fact that this unsinkable ship managed to capsize on its maiden voyage. They were told the ship would be safe when in reality, hundreds of people lost their lives.
People wanted the White Star Line company to make some serious changes to the way they construct vessels and the way they navigate through open waters. This is a photo of a public meeting where people expressed their anger and frustration.
From Then To Now
The previous photo was taken in the 1990s, but this photo was taken in late August 2019. By comparing the two photos, you can see just how much the Titanic has deteriorated over the span of a couple of decades. A diving team began documenting the process of decay happening underwater.
In an interview with BBC, Titanic historian Parks Stephenson said, “The captain’s bathtub is a favorite image among Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone. That whole deck house on that side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms. And that deterioration is going to continue advancing.”
Other Parts Of The Ship Are Disappearing
Yes, the Titanic is slowly eroding and fading away at the bottom of the ocean, but this is the natural order of things. Titanic historian Parks Stephenson says, “Titanic is returning to nature.”
The paint along the side of the ship is completely worn away, and pretty soon that bow, where Rose and Jack stood, will be completely unrecognizable. Rose was lucky enough to be a member of the upper class onboard the Titanic, but life wasn’t quite as glamorous for the 709 third-class passengers.