As midnight approached on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic was steaming confidently toward New York Harbor on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, with 2,224 passengers and crew members aboard.
Less than three hours later, the massive luxury liner that had been heralded as unsinkable lay at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland, more than 1,500 of its passengers dead or on their way to perishing from exposure.
Among the casualties that night were some of the richest and most notable people of the times, including Astor fortune heir John Jacob Astor IV, pioneering newspaperman and mystery writer Jacques Futrelle, noted American painter, sculptor and writer Francis David Millet and Isidor Straus, a co-founder of Macy’s Department Store.
The sinking of the Titanic, still one of the largest peacetime maritime disasters in history, shocked a world just growing accustomed to thinking it could out-engineer nature. Its demise led to several immediate and dramatic measures, including the formation of the , headquartered in New London.
The loss of life — and, some would say, innocence — still reverberates. For decades, survivors of the sinking gave talks at local libraries and gathering places, recounting the horrific and sorrowful scene and how their lives had been affected. Dozens of books and movies and television specials memorialized or sensationalized the disaster, including James Cameron’s 1997 Hollywood blockbuster Titanic.
Patch will be taking a look at some of Connecticut’s many connections to the Titanic tragedy, including:
- The story of the 33 Connecticut-bound passengers, 18 of whom died.
- A video profile of the Titanic Historical Society Museum in Indian Orchard, MA, a short ride up I-91.
- The tale of William Sloper of New Britain, who jumped in one of the first lifeboats to be lowered from the doomed ship but spent the rest of his life defending himself against accusations he dressed in women's clothing to get his seat.
- A new exhibit, titled "Titanic — 12,450 Feet Below," opening April 12 at the that recreates the moment Dr. Robert Ballard, the director of the institute, discovered the famous wreck.
- The story of Richard Rabbett, a Titanic enthusiast who will sojourn to the ship’s watery grave to lay a wreath in memory of Jane Carr of Windsor Locks, who was traveling back to Connecticut on the Titanic to take care of a pressing financial matter and lost her life.
- The story of the , created in response to the Titanic sinking to warn shipping traffic of icebergs in the north Atlantic, which is headquartered at the in New London.
These stories and others, plucked from the catacombs of history, offer perspectives on the depth of the Titanic tragedy and the mythology that has sprung up around the sinking in the last 100 years. They also offer insight into why, 100 years later, the story of the ill-fated RMS Titanic continues to captivate us.
We invite you to enjoy our coverage all week long and tell us in the comment sections of the articles how the sinking of Titanic has affected you.