Saturday, February 9, 2013
On February 9, 1942, SS Normandie burned and sank at Pier 88 in New York while being converted to a troop ship at the start of World War II. The largest ship of its time, it is considered the grandest and most beautiful ocean liner ever built, with a distinctive clipper-ship bow. It entered service in May 1935 for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (French Line) and was the first liner to cross the Atlantic in less than four days. Offering seven accommodation classes, its technical innovations included an early form of radar. Its luxurious interiors in Art Déco and Streamline Moderne styles included a vast first-class dining salon (the largest room afloat). Split funnel intakes, diverted to the ship’s sides, allowed for huge, open public spaces. After the fall of France in 1940, Normandie was seized by U.S. authorities for war use. Sabotage was suspected, but a welder’s torch destroyed her. Pictured: poster by A.M. Cassandre (1935).