The SS Independence is
one of the few major cruise ships built in the
United States. She was launched during the heyday of
ocean travel in 1950 by American Export Lines of New
York. And even when the golden age was over, she received more than $78
million in refurbishments from between1994 to 2001.
683 feet in length and 23,719 gross register tons, the
SS Independence could accommodate 1,000 passengers, and
up to 5,000 soldiers during wartime. She was capable of cruising at 26 knots.
The vessel, as originally
designed, was made entirely of non-combustible or
fire-resistant materials and featured extra hull
plating, and two engine rooms so that if one were
damaged, the other could keep the ship moving at a
relatively high speed.
According to Life magazine,
"It will house passengers in Henry Dreyfuss-designed
cabins, apartments, and 'penthouses,' keep their
shipboard spirits up with branches of Fifth Avenue
shops, handsome public rooms and bars decorated with
old tattoo designs, collections of ships in bottles
and Early American silver. Late American devices
include 125 feet of picture windows in the
observation lounge, polarized glass in portholes to
control light and glare, and bedside telephones from
which a passenger can phone anyone within 5,000
SS Independence departed on
her maiden voyage on February 11, 1950. She made
her last trip across the ocean in February 2008 when
she was towed out to sea from San Francisco.