titanic b-58

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the sinking of the luxury liner Titanic, a disaster so famous in the Western world it scarcely needs introduction or a recap by me. You know what happened and why it happened. This fabulous bedroom is one of the rooms it happened to. This is B-58, one of the luxury first-class staterooms aboard the liner that the White Star Line intended to market as the most luxurious and comfortable ship afloat. This was not just an idle superlative, and this room isn’t just a nice-looking crib for high-paying passengers. It was a conscious business strategy. The White Star Line felt it couldn’t compete with its rivals Cunard and the various German steamship companies on speed, which was the #1 selling point for a transatlantic ticket–at least in anything other than steerage class–in the 1910s. So, White Star decided its “branding” should be about luxury, not speed. Rooms like this were the result.

This room is decorated in a Louis XVI style. Each suite had a slightly different décor, but all were intended to be posh. The wall panels are silk, the carpet an expensive broadloom. The electrical cord you see trailing down the edge of the small table is a little unusual, because it presumably leads to a floor-level socket; most electrical sockets on ships were put higher up on the wall to keep it dry in case of flooding. That seems a rather ironic touch considering that this room and everything else on the Titanic ended up 12,000 feet down on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

This room undoubtedly still exists, though it may be unrecognizable. The silk and carpet has surely rotted away, but the bed frame, baseboards and pieces of furniture are probably still there, though greatly decayed by time and the ravages of the ocean. Maybe the mother of the child who owned the famous doll’s head slept in this room. We’ll never know.

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