Made In America

SS United State eases into port

The SS United States eases into port…

The SS United States is the greatest mid-century ocean liner ever built. Incredibly it’s still afloat.

Although it sits derelict, berthed on the Delaware River in South Philadelphia, it’s not truly abandoned, as passionate fans from around the world strive to fund its restoration.

Philadelphia author and historian, Steven Ujifusa, is one of its champions and he’s just published A Man And His Ship, a biography about naval architect William Francis Gibbs, who designed his technical masterpiece to be the fastest, finest and most beautiful ocean liner of its time.

The 2000-passenger “floating Waldorf Astoria” was “designed to be extremely safe – it was fireproof and had virtually no wood – and she had the speed and maneuverability of a Navy destroyer,” says Ujifusa, in an interview published recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Still, its technical marvels couldn’t compete with modern jet aircraft, and after seventeen years breaking sea records and safely transporting tens of thousands of passengers, the great ship was retired. By 2009, stripped bare to its hull and destined for a scrap ship graveyard in India, it was saved by last-minute funding from entrepreneur and philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, who came to the aid of the non-profit SS United States Conservancy, headed by Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of William Gibbs.

The ship’s long saga isn’t over yet, and its future is as precarious as ever, but there’s hope still to revitalize this former grand dame of the seas. To learn more, go to the Conservancy’s website at www.ssunitedstatesconservancy.org. 

For an in-person visit to the great ship, it’s best viewed from the Ikea Store‘s large second floor restaurant windows, located at 2206 S. Columbus Boulevard, directly across the street from the ship’s dock site.

 Photo courtesy of  Telestar Logistics

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Spring in the City… Rittenhouse Square

Philadelphia is a vibrant mix of old and new, historic and hip, traditional and trendy.

This City of many historic firsts and innumerable legends has long been a popular destination.

Centuries before William Penn sailed up the Delaware,  it was a gathering place of great reverence and relevance for generations of Native Americans who settled here, farming the ancient lands, hunting in its forests and fishing along its rivers and streams.

From its earliest beginnings as a City, it was an enclave that beckoned to millions fleeing religious or political persecution in their lands of origin. Philadelphia became a perfect melting pot of ethnicities, cuisines, and cultures.

Chinatown New Year’s celebration.

Home to the largest municipal park in the world, with tree-lined streets even in its business district, and pocket parks nestled throughout its many neighborhood communities, today it’s every bit the “green country town” that Penn envisioned long ago.

The City once renowned as “Workshop of the World” continues to attract international visitors and abounds in cultural amenities, many of them free. Events, programs, lectures, food markets, theater, art, sports and more do much to showcase the City’s rich historic profile.

This blog will guide out-of-town visitors and hometown residents who seek out the best of what the city offers.