Removing the rust

The SS United States is im­possible to miss — it stretches about five city blocks along South Colum­bus Boulevard.

  • Photos provided by the SS United States Conservancy

  • Photo provided by the SS United States Conservancy

The SS United States is im­possible to miss — it stretches about five city blocks along South Colum­bus Boulevard. For com­par­is­on pur­poses,   we’re  talk­ing 100 feet longer in size than the Ti­tan­ic. Pier 82 has been her home since the mid-1990s, where she has sat de­cay­ing be­fore our very eyes. Yes, we have heard the count­less ideas — scrap it, sell it, in­clude it as part of a massive re­devel­op­ment plan — but, for now, it just sits, wait­ing and wait­ing.    

Ima­gine what this baby would be like if she could still cruise across the At­lantic Ocean at re­cord speeds. Maybe you heard about that fam­ous 1952 maid­en voy­age in which the SS United States shattered the trans-At­lantic speed re­cord in both dir­ec­tions. As a res­ult, she was the first Amer­ic­an ship in 100 years to be awar­ded the coveted Blue Rib­and. We’re talk­ing 38.32 knots (44 miles per hour dur­ing the speed tri­als).    

There was plenty of hype sur­round­ing the un­veil­ing of de­sign­er Wil­li­am Fran­cis Gibbs’ vis­ion, as some 70,000 people were there in New York to see her up close. 

The likes of Mar­lon Brando, Sean Con­nery, Walt Dis­ney, Bob Hope, John Wayne are among the fam­ous Hol­ly­wood stars who made the pas­sen­ger list. Former  Pres­id­ents Harry S. Tru­man, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eis­en­hower and an ex­tremely young Bill Clin­ton are part of the dis­tin­guished list, as well. 

But un­like the lux­ury liners of today, the SS United States was re­tired in 1969. Today, we are left won­der­ing what’s next. 

“Re­mem­ber When” is a new fea­ture that will be ap­pear­ing reg­u­larly in the South Philly Re­view. We wel­come read­ers to share stor­ies and pho­tos of old ven­ues, events or games. E-mail ed­it­or Bill Gel­man, bgel­man@bsmphilly.com. 


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You can reach at bgelman@southphillyreview.com.