10 Fascinating Facts About Titanic - and more!!

The “Ship of dreams”,  Titanic was the pride of Liverpool’s White Star Line. Billed unsinkable, she would send 1500 souls to a watery grave on her maiden voyage.


Here are 10 fascinating facts about RMS Titanic.

1. Titanic was the largest moving object ever built

When she entered service in 1912, Titanic was the largest ship afloat. At 882 feet long and 141 feet high (waterline to top of funnels), she must have seemed like a floating city.




The New York Tribune ran a headline on Sunday, November 27, 1910 asking the question:


“How can we dock this marine monster when she reaches the port of New York?”


It showed an illustration of Titanic with the famous Halve Maen “Half Moon”—the Dutch ship that sailed into New York Harbor in 1609—wholly contained within Titanic’s hull.



Could people in the Edwardian era imagine that even Titanic would be dwarfed by passenger cruise ships of the future.


Today’s largest cruise ships—the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and sister ship Allure of the Seas are both 1187 feet in length and reach 213 feet above the waterline.



2. One of Titanic’s funnels was fake

Only three of Titanic’s four funnels were functional—the fourth was a dummy installed because it made the ship look more beautiful and was made into a ventilation shaft for the kitchen.













3. Puttin’ on the Ritz

The interior of Titanic was modeled after the Ritz Hotel, with first-class cabins finished in the Empire style.

Aiming to convey the aura of a floating hotel, it was intended for passengers to forget they were on board ship, and feel as though they were in a hall of a great house on shore


























4. Titanic’s hull was made from 2000 steel plates

Riveting stuff, right? Well actually, weak rivets are probably the main reason Titanic sank.


To appreciate just how impressive it is to fasten 2000 steel plates together at a time before sophisticated welding, we first need to know what 2000 steel plates looks like …






Besides making your eyes go funny, imagine each of those tiny gray rectangles is 30 feet long, 6 feet wide, and weighs 3 tons.


Each plate was between 1 inch  and 1.5 inches  thick and needed fastening together with steel rivets — three million of them. It’s the same principle used on your jeans.

Rivets are incredibly strong and hold together structures like the Eiffel Tower and Brooklyn Bridge.

Heated, then driven through holes by hydraulic machines, they held together Titanic’s plates with a watertight seal.

But here’s the thing — there wasn’t enough room to use the hydraulic machines on the bow (the forward part of Titanic’s hull). So men had to hammer them through by hand.

To make that job easier, the rivets for the bow of Titanic (and the stern) were made of softer wrought iron—the quality of which was questionable.

Imagine the rivets are like a zipper. If enough force is applied, once the first rivet breaks, the others follow. And so it was when Titanic’s hull collided with the massive iceberg—the plates ripped apart.

Sometimes the smallest things matter the most.


5. Titanic set a new standard for third-class accommodations

Titanic was one of the first ships to offer improved steerage (third class) accommodation.


While most ships only offered open dormitories with inadequate food or toilet facilities, Titanic offered private, comfortable cabins for two, four, six, eight and 10 passengers.

Third-class passengers also had their own dining rooms with pine paneling and sturdy teak furniture.

Substantial open deck space was also made available, as was a smoking room for men and reading room for women—both far exceeding the average for the time.

Third class cabin aboard Titanic

6. Titanic was an ideal venue for debutantes

For ambitious mothers looking to marry off their daughters to eligible bachelors, Titanic was a venue par excellence.


A passenger list was published before sailing—a veritable “who’s who”—to make everyone aware of which society elites would be gracing the ship with their presence.




7. The Grand Staircase descended through seven decks


















The Grand Staircase descended through seven decks of the ship, capped with a dome of wrought iron and glass to admit natural light.

Each landing off the staircase gave access to ornate entrance halls lit by gold-plated light fixtures.


It is thought that the inrush of water in the final moments pushed the entire Grand Staircase upwards through the dome.


8. “We are safer here than in that little boat”

John Jacob Astor IV, who went down with Titanic on that fateful night of April 15, 1912, was one of the richest men in the world.

As people jostled for space aboard lifeboats, Mr Astor initially dismissed the idea of leaving the ship’s safety, saying to his pregnant wife:


“We are safer here than in that little boat.”


Astor had built the Astoria Hotel “the world’s most luxurious” in 1897, which later merged with the Waldorf to become the Waldorf-Astoria complex.

His net worth was said to have been in the billions. But here’s the problem with calculating someone’s net worth in 1912: there were no income taxes—not until the following year.

Nevertheless, shortly after the disaster, the New York Times ran a detailed study of the real-estate holdings that Astor’s son, Vincent, would inherit. Factoring additional bequests to his wife and daughter, they arrived at $150,000,000 — valued at around $3.75 billion today.

9. And the band played on

If there is any consolation for the eight musicians who perished aboard Titanic, it is that they indulged their passion for music until the very end.

Members of the Titanic Orchestra


These heroes decided to start playing to help calm the passengers as the crew helped women and children board the lifeboats. One survivor said:

“Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame.”


10. When time ran out …

This watch tells the story of when time ran out for over 1500 people.


Immersed into lethally cold water with a temperature of 28 °F, almost all died within 15–30 minutes.


And the survivors?

Sources disagree on the actual number, ranging from 705 to 713. But the odds of surviving were definitely higher for upper-class women and children, and female crew members.

The rescue of first class passengers was not a general priority; although all but four of the 140 women traveling first class survived, only 57 of the 175 men were saved. There were 80 female survivors out of 93 traveling second class, but only 14 out of 168 men. Third class survival rates were even worse; 76 of 165 women were rescued, but the list of survivors shows only 75 out of 462 men.

Oldest, youngest and longest-lived passengers

The Titanic passengers ranged in age from 71 years to 73 days. The two oldest women, Mary Compton and Catherine Crosby, both aged 64, survived. The three oldest men, Ramon Artagaveytia, George Goldschmidt and Henry Mitchell, all aged 71, did not.

The youngest passenger was 2-month-old Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean. Although almost all 30 of the children traveling in first and second class survived, only 27 of the 79 children in third class were rescued.
Millvina Dean and her brother, Bertram, who was a few weeks short of his second birthday, were among them. Their mother also survived, but their 25-year-old father did not.

Coincidentally, Millvina Dean was the last of the Titanic survivors; the 97-year-old spinster died in 2009. Bertram Vere Dean also made the list of longest-lived survivors. He died at age 81 on the 80th anniversary of the sinking: April 14, 1992.

Millvina Dean was the last surviving passenger of the ill-fated passenger ship. She was lowered into a lifeboat inside a mail sack on the fateful night that the ship sank into the depths and took so many lives with her. Millvina Dean passed away at the age of 97 in a nursing home that was located in Southampton, England.

Southampton was the same English port that the RSM Titanic launched from on it's voyage into history. Ms. Dean was only 9 weeks old when she was lowered to safety onto lifeboat number ten along with her mother Mrs. Eva Georgetta Light Dean. Mrs. Eva Dean was aged 32 at the time of the disaster. She and her daughter, Miss Elizabeth Gladys Dean, who was later known as Millvina, was traveling in 3rd class when they were placed into lifeboat number 10. Mrs. Dean became separated from her young son, Master Bertram Vere Dean, who was but one year old at that time. She comforted herself with the thought that her son and her husband were together on board the Titanic and would be able to get into another lifeboat and join herself and her daughter upon rescue. While the mother, baby sister and young brother were reunited on board the Carpathia, Mrs. Deans husband, Bertram Frank Dean was numbered among those lost at sea.

The Habitual Survivor

Miss Violet Constance Jessop was another on the list of Titanic survivors. She was a nurse and stewardess on the ocean liner. Violet was a surviver three times over. She also survived, in 1915 the sister ship of Titanic, the Britannic tragedy. Violet was also on board the RMS Olympic at the time that is collided with the HMS Hawke. She was aged 24 years at the time of the sinking of the Titanic. Violet passed away on May 5 of 1971 and is buried in Hartest in Suffold, England.

“Titanic Orphans”

We cannot even imagine how it was for  Michel (4) and Edmund  (2) to be alone on a ship, surrounded by hysteria and terror, without being aware that they will never see their father again who just had placed them on the last lifeboat. Michel Marcel Navratil, Jr. (12 June 1908 – 30 January 2001).along with his brother, Edmond (1910–1953), were known as the “Titanic Orphans”, having been the only children rescued without a parent or guardian.



Michel, Edmond, and their father boarded the Titanic at Southampton , England on 10 April 1912, as second-class passengers. For the journey, Mr. Navratil assumed the alias “Louis M. Hoffman”, and the boys were booked as “Lolo and Momon”. On board the ship, he led passengers to believe that he was a widower. He let the boys out of his sight only once, when he allowed a French-speaking woman, Bertha Lehmann, to watch them for a few hours while he played cards.


After the collision with the iceberg at 11:40 pm on 14 April 1912, Navratil placed Michel and Edmond in Collapsible D, the last lifeboat successfully launched from the ship.


Michel, although not quite four years old at the time, later claimed to remember his father telling him, “My child, when your mother comes for you, as she surely will, tell her that I loved her dearly and still do. Tell her I expected her to follow us, so that we might all live happily together in the peace and freedom of the New World.” The elder Navratil died in the sinking, and his body was recovered by the rescue ship, Mackay-Bennett. In his pocket was a revolver. Because of his assumed Jewish surname, he was buried in Baron de Hirsch Cemetery, Halifax, a Jewish cemetery in Nova Scotia.


While in Collapsible D, Michel was fed biscuits by first-class passenger Hugh Woolner.  When the rescue ship Carpathia arrived at the scene, he and Edmond were hoisted to its deck in burlap sacks. Since they were toddlers and spoke no English, they could not identify themselves and were soon referred to as the “Titanic Orphans”. French-speaking first-class passenger Margaret Hays cared for them at her house until their mother could be located, which occurred as a result of newspaper articles which included their pictures. She sailed to New York City and was reunited with them on 16 May 1912. She took them back to France aboard the Oceanic.



Michel later recalled his memory of the Titanic:


"A magnificent ship!…I remember looking down the length of the hull – the ship looked splendid. My brother and I played on the forward deck and were thrilled to be there. One morning, my father, my brother, and I were eating eggs in the second-class dining room. The sea was stunning. My feeling was one of total and utter well being"


And later:


"I don’t recall being afraid, I remember the pleasure, really, of going plop! into the lifeboat. We ended up next to the daughter of an American banker who managed to save her dog–no one objected. There were vast differences of people’s wealth on the ship, and I realized later that if we hadn’t been in second-class, we’d have died. The people who came out alive often cheated and were aggressive. The honest didn’t stand a chance"





In 1987, Michel travelled to Wilmington, Delaware to mark the 75th anniversary of the sinking. It was his first visit to the United States since 1912. The following year, he joined ten fellow survivors at a Titanic Historical Society convention in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1996, he joined fellow survivors Eleanor Shuman and Edith Brown on a cruise to the location of the wreck, where attempts were made to bring a large portion of the hull to the surface. On 27 August 1996, before his return to France, he traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia to see his father’s grave for the first time.  His  younger brother  Edmond worked as an interior decorator and then became an architect and builder. He joined the French Army during World War II and became a prisoner-of-war. Although he escaped, his health had deteriorated, and he died in 1953 at age 43. Michel was one of the last survivors of the sinking of Titanic, he died in 2001 aged 92.

Hey…. isn’t there one more thing you think of when you hear Titanic!  And no, I don’t mean the movie….

The name is Margaret Brown – 

                                       The Unsinkable Molly Brown .. and it is a Myth


Margaret Brown, popularly known as Molly Brown, was never addressed as Molly by anyone who knew her personally. She was known as Maggie to her family until she married. Molly is the creation of legend and Hollywood. Margaret, the flesh and blood woman, was a pioneer in many ways.


Her parents, John and Johanna (Collins) Tobin, were Irish immigrants who came to the United States after the first wave of the Industrial Revolution. Each was widowed with one child when they married and settled into a cottage near the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri. Together, they had four more children. Margaret was the second child of this union. She was born on July 18, 1867.


Margaret’s parents held progressive views, which shaped her thinking and her life. They supported freedom, equality and valued education for all of their children. Margaret attended school until the age of 13 at her aunt, Mary O’Leary’s grammar school. The things she learned from her parents and at school remained a part of her throughout her life. She lived a purposeful life filled with personal growth and a commitment to be an active member of society.


According to the Encyclopedia Titanica, Margaret Brown was a member of the working class who, as a teenager, “worked stripping tobacco leaves at Garth’s Tobacco Company in Hannibal” to help support her family. Long hours, low wages, and work insecurity shaped the lives of many of those around her, including her father, who worked at the Hannibal Gas Works. The longing for a better life led her west to Leadville, Colorado, in the mid-1880s.


Life Begins in Leadville


Margaret’s sister, Mary, and Mary’s new husband, Jack Landrigan, followed the great migration west, accompanied by Margaret and their brother, Daniel Tobin. The Landrigans established a blacksmith shop. Daniel worked in the silver mines, and Margaret, who was known as Maggie at this time, worked in the Carpet and Draperies department of Daniels and Fisher Mercantile where she sewed carpets and drapes.


Not long after arriving in Leadville, Margaret met a mining engineer named James Joseph (“J.J.”) Brown, and the couple wed on September 1, 1886. They started life together at J.J.’s cabin in Stumpftown, a predominantly Irish town located up the hill from Leadville. Their first child, Lawrence Palmer was born at the cottage. They soon outgrew the cottage and the family purchased a home in Leadville. Their second child, Catherine Helen was born there in 1889.


Margaret’s early education and her parent’s progressive ideas lead Margaret to be a community organizer from the time her children were very young. She was part of the early feminist movement in Leadville and was instrumental in the formation of the Colorado Chapter of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. Leadville experienced a deep depression in 1893 due to the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which artificially propped up the price of silver.


Unemployment was as high as 90 percent. J.J. thought there could be gold waiting to be found in the mines, and after thoroughly researching the possibilities, developed a timber-and-hay bale method that allowed for excavation to the depths where gold was, indeed, found. Encyclopedia Titanica tells us that by October, “the Little Jonny mine was shipping 135 tons of ore per day, and Brown was awarded 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board.” The Browns were now wealthy.

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Margaret Brown Hits Her Stride


The Brown family moved to Denver in 1894, where Margaret continued her activism, which was now mixed with philanthropy. According to Encyclopedia Titanica, some of her accomplishments are:


 “…a founding member of the Denver Women’s Club, which was part of a network of clubs that advocated literacy, education, suffrage, and human rights in Colorado and throughout the United States

….raised funds to build the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital

…worked with Judge Ben Lindsey to help destitute children and establish the first juvenile court in the country (the basis for today’s U.S. juvenile court system)

attended the Carnegie Institute in New York, where she studied literature, language, and drama

…in addition to raising two children of her own, she raised the three daughters of her brother, Daniel… whose mother had died when they were young…”


Other accomplishments were more political in nature. Eight years before women won the right to vote, Margaret Brown ran for the United States Senate. She withdrew before election day, but continued to pursue larger political issues for 20 years. She organized an international women’s rights conference that saw human rights activists from around the globe in attendance.


Later in life, Margaret studied drama in Paris in the Bernhardt tradition, as she was fascinated by Sarah Bernhardt. She was well received in performances in Paris and New York.

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Margaret Brown and Titanic


If all of these accomplishments (there are more) were not enough, the one thing that stands head and shoulders above the rest is how she not only survived, but helped others during the sinking of the Titanic, and afterward as well.


She wasn’t even supposed to be traveling on the liner. Notification of the illness of her first grandchild prompted her to book last minute passage on the ill-fated voyage. As the boat was sinking, she helped others aboard lifeboats, before being forced to leave the ship on lifeboat #6. She helped keep the spirits up of the others (mostly women) in the lifeboat with her as they rowed for hours. Once aboard the Carpathia, she used her language skills in French, German, and Russian to console and help survivors, and carried that over once she was back in New York.  Once on dry land, she helped establish the Survivors Committee, which raised money to help destitute survivors of the accident. She stayed onboard the Carpathia until all survivors were either reunited with family or friends, or received medical assistance.


Her sense of humor is quite evident in a excerpt of a letter to her daughter, shared on Encyclopedia Titanica: “After being brined, salted, and pickled in mid ocean I am now high and dry… I have had flowers, letters, telegrams – people until I am befuddled. They are petitioning Congress to give me a medal… If I must call a specialist to examine my head it is due to the title of Heroine of the Titanic.”


Her philanthropy and activism grew after this life-changing event brought her accolades from around the world. She was able to speak freely about labor rights, women’s rights, education and literacy for children, and historic preservation. She offered her summer home in Newport, Rhode Island, to the local chapter of the Red Cross during World War I and helped raise money to rebuild France after the war.


The Browns separated in 1909, after 23 years of marriage. They never divorced, but never lived again as husband and wife. Margaret Brown died of a brain tumor on October 26, 1932, at the Barbizon Hotel, in New York City. She is buried next to her husband at Holy Rood Cemetery on Long Island.


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The Legend the Unsinkable Molly Brown


After Margaret’s death, the legend of the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’ grew out of the writings of Denver Post reporter Gene Fowler and author Carolyn Bancroft. Bancroft’s fictionalized accounts of Margaret Brown’s story was turned into radio broadcasts in the 1940s and the Broadway play ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown.’ The story was made into a movie, starring Debbie Reynolds, released in 1964. In the 1997 James Cameron film, ‘Titanic,’ Margaret Brown was portrayed by Kathy Bates.


Although a fictionalized account of her life, the movie, ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ is a fine film that showcases not only the spunk and determination that was a driving force in Margaret Brown’s life, it showcases women’s fashion and the changes in style from the 1880s through the early 1930s. It’s worth a look just to see the wonderful garments worn by Debbie Reynolds throughout the film. which was a GREAT film by the way.

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And even more!

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                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012