Take a Ride on the Lusitania! (History From an Ad)

Ad published 2/25/1914 in the New York Tribune
Ad published 2/25/1914 in the New York Tribune

A New Yorker thoroughly reading the Tribune on February 25, 1914 might have spotted this page 15 ad from the Cunard Line. The ad touted Cunard’s fleet of -tanias, calling them the fastest in the world.

And there, at the head, the Lusitania. If that Tribune reader had the means, they could have purchased a ticket for a March departure. They would have been on their way to the continent in less than a month. Travel records available via Ancestry.com show the Lusitania was in port at New York twice that March, on the 6th and the 27th.

The Great War exploded across Europe in August, 1914. In a way, this ad for leisurely cruises to alluring European destinations underscores the speed with which those nations fell into conflict. By September that year the British Admiralty had requisitioned both the Lusitania and the Mauretania. By November, the Lusitania was making just one ocean crossing a month. On her return trips to England, she was carrying munitions manufactured in the “neutral” United States.

Then, on May 7, 1915, the German U-boat designated U-20 torpedoed the great ship 14 miles off Kinsale in the south of Ireland. It only took one torpedo. A second explosion ensued, likely from ignited munitions. About 20 minutes later, over 1200 souls went down with the ship.

The Mauretania would sail on. She was taken out of service in 1934, a victim of Cunard’s merger with the White Star Line (of Titanic fame), as well as the Great Depression. The “magnificent” Aquitania lasted until 1949 and she was scrapped in 1950.

[Additional information: Lusitania.net]