Wealthy Passengers on the Titanic: The Millionaires


TITANIC MILLIONAIRES America. A new world without limits. Even the sky could not hold back
the ambitious. As the buildings grew ever higher, those with enterprise
became ever richer. In 1861, there were only
three millionaires in the United States. By 1900 there were nearly 4,000, and they needed something
to spend their millions on. Titanic. Titanic was the largest manmade object
that moved. It wasn’t simply enormous,
it was magnificent in every way. With the British Union Flag
flying from one side of her and the American Stars and Stripes
at the other, the super-rich and powerful had a new
toy the century would never forget. The millionaires of 1912, like Mr and Mrs Astor, were the equivalent
of today’s movie stars. The press and public
couldn’t get enough of them. John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest
passenger on Titanic. There were several other millionaires
on board and crowds gathered
to catch a glimpse of them. Benjamin Guggenheim, George Widener and Isidor Straus. Together, their fortunes exceeded
one hundred million dollars. From the splendour of the suites
or Parisian café, the crossing was so smooth, the passengers thought
they were in a first-class hotel. While far below,
the newly designed turbine engines were powered by 29 coal-fired boilers powerful enough to move this 46,000-ton
vessel at a speed of 22 knots per hour without spilling anyone’s drink. Like most of his contemporaries, JJ Astor knew all about the
technological innovations of the age, and had even written a novel
on the subject. For the ladies on the upper deck,
fashion and gossip were the main sport, while the lower decks were enthralled
with their own modest luxuries. Titanic left for New York
in April 1912. Neither technological innovation nor wealth were to make any difference. After the impact with the iceberg, Astor, like many others, did not believe
the ship was in any serious danger. But soon there was no ignoring the fact
that the unsinkable ship was sinking. Astor bade farewell to his 18-year-old
bride after helping her into a lifeboat, saying he would see her in the morning. John Jacob Astor,
the richest man on board Titanic, died alongside 1500 others
from all classes and all continents. All equal in death. And so the technological triumph
of the new century, the epitome of Edwardian
engineering, ended in tragedy. As the First World War beckoned, life for the elite and empire
would never be the same. SEE MORE TITANIC STORIES AT

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