By Lauren Wanko
It’s April 10, 1912. The trunks are packed. Your voyage is about to begin. Welcome aboard the magnificent Titanic.
“We’re trying to re-create what it was like in the Titanic. This was the most luxurious ship ever built at that time,” said Paul Hoffman, the CEO of Liberty Science Center.
“I’ve been fascinated by the Titanic for many years, wanted to see it in New York, excited to see it today,” said a visitor to the exhibition.
At the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City visitors are given a ticket back in time to view more than 130 artifacts retrieved from the bottom of the ocean. Although the passengers and crew members aren’t here to tell their stories many of their precious belongings are, offering a snapshot of their lives. Amy’s diamond and gold bracelet, a gentleman’s top hat and shoes, personal china packed for the journey to New York for first class passengers. The experience was top-notch.
“I mean this was the party boat. It had 20,000 bottles of beer just for it’s first class passengers, 1,500 bottles of wine, 8,000 cigars,” Hoffman continued.
This is a replica of an ornate first class stateroom. The average cost of a ticket for these guests? More than $2,500 back then. The exhibit indicates that’s about $57,200 today. Whereas a third class ticket cost $35 or about $620 today. The accommodations were cramped and many passengers shared the space with strangers. Their dinner menus varied also, first class feasting on sirloin of beef while third class passengers enjoyed roast pork and other sides, still considered fine dining for many third class passengers said CEO Paul Hoffman. “Many of these people may not have been having fresh veggies but they were on the Titanic.”
A glass jar with powder, thought to be face make-up, is still intact. A cooper soap box is filled with the soap.
“Ship went down in 1912, discovered in 1985 and of course a lot of work done to retrieve the beautiful artifacts you see here. It’s interesting things like the leather that were tanned and had oil survived a lot longer then wood for instance,” added Hoffman. The famous bell from the ship’s crow’s nest now rests silently in the museum. “When the first officer spotted the iceberg there was only 37 seconds between when he spotted it and when it hit and they made the mistake of turning the ship.”
You can touch a model iceberg here to get a sense of the frigid conditions the passengers were dealing with. Hoffman says the ocean water was about 28 degrees Fahrenheit and since salt water freezes at a lower temperature, passengers were struggling in the icy ocean. “So most people would have died not by drowning but by hypothermia.”
All that’s left now are the items passengers left behind and a glimpse at what their short time onboard was like.