I may have retired from a career in preservation but that doesn't mean I have forgotten the significance of the preservation of notable sites, scenes, objects, and structures in the American experience. The SS United States is one of those structures. Here is an OTR post on this magnificent ship written in 2010:
For seventeen years, the SS United States carried passengers across the Atlantic Ocean as the Queen of the American Merchant Marine. This great liner still holds the westbound Atlantic crossing record - at an average speed of almost 40 mph - set on her maiden voyage in 1952. Now merely an empty shell, she has been weathering away since the late '70s and moored at her last destination, Philadelphia, since 1996. With her interior furnishings gone, some may say that she is a vessel we can afford to lose. But instead of decoration, the SS United States was noted for her innovation, performance, and adaptability as a military as well as civilian vessel. She is, therefore, a most suitable example of American industrial and engineering history.
Her reprieve by a group of preservationists came at the very last hour. It represents a very small step in a restoration that will take many years and millions of dollars. Plans at this time are to preserve the liner as a hotel in either New York or Philadelphia. As a preservationist, OTR is heartened to learn that this beautiful piece of maritime history may some day grace a proud harbor and share her history with future generations.
The link above provides readers with additional information and suggests several links for more in depth exploration of the Queen of the American Merchant Marine. One of those links, Richard April's American Flagship SS United States, should not be missed.
I am pleased to report that in the four years since this post appeared, the SS United States has survived in Philadelphia and is now undergoing "below deck" changes that should make her more suitable for use as a permanent dockside attraction by investors. In an improving economy, several organizations would be pleased to have this vessel grace their urban waterfront. As it is, the SS United States Conservancy seems to be focusing on resources in New York City as their best hope for a permanent home.
The world has already lost the SS Normandie to fire in 1942 and the SS France to scrap in 2008. Both vessels represented superlative art and engineering in the 20th century. I have come late to appreciating industrial archeology when the subject is great ships. They are incredibly expensive to maintain and operate yet they are irreplaceable and once gone they are gone forever. I would like to think that the SS United States will be preserved for future generations as an expression of American engineering and art as well as a product of our never ending appreciation of ingenuity.
Source: Wikipedia, SS United States Conservancy