30 Incredible Photos of the Titanic Taken Before and After It Sank

At the time it was built, the RMS Titanic was the world’s largest passenger ship at 882 feet in length. Not only was it the biggest boat – it was the largest manmade moving object, period. To say the Titanic was a big deal would be a massive understatement. It took 26 months to build and the construction alone caused 246 injuries and at least two deaths.

All the grandeur of the Titanic is particularly fascinating now, especially knowing the outcome of the first and only voyage. Ahead, check out amazing photos from before and after the sinking of the Titanic that you’ve never seen before.

Building the Titanic cost millions

Building the Titanic
The White Star liner Titanic during construction | F J Mortimer/Getty Images

Building the Titanic wasn’t just time-consuming — it was also expensive. In today’s terms, constructing the massive vessel cost well over $100 million, though the original projected cost was much lower than that. It was put together at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland by a team of 3,000 men.

Next: The Titanic was one of a kind.

The Titanic wasn’t like other ships

The Titanic
The Titanic | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The finished boat had 3 million rivets, which may sound like a lot, but for a ship that size, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Many ships built during the time used extra strong steel rivets for construction. For the Titanic? The builders used a mix of steel and iron, which was a little weaker. These were also used at the hull of the ship that struck the iceberg.

Next: This was one of the worst things about the Titanic.

There weren’t nearly enough lifeboats

Titanic lifeboats
Lifeboats on board the SS Titanic | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Even though it seems crazy that there were only 16 wooden lifeboats and four collapsible boats on board, that’s more than was legally required. The lifeboats only provided room for 1,178 people or about 1/3 of the total number of passengers on the ship. But the planners didn’t seem to worry about that – after all, the Titanic was believed to be unsinkable.

Next: Not everyone went down with the ship.

The owner of the Titanic died a recluse

Owner of the Titanic
Joseph Bruce Ismay | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Joseph Bruce Ismay was the chairman of the White Star Line, a company his father founded. He received harsh criticism for opting to save his own life in one of the lifeboats rather than offering it to women and children. Ismay died many years later, in 1937, but remained a recluse for the rest of his life. He resigned from the board of the White Star Line one year after the Titanic sank.

Next: This common myth about the Titanic proved false.

People believed the Titanic was unsinkable

Titanic before launch
Titanic before launch | Robert John Welch/Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

One infamous quote from a White Star Line employee: “Not even God himself could sink this ship.” Everyone, from the people building the Titanic to the public, believed that the sheer size and cost made the vessel safer than any ship that had come before. The captain was overheard saying that modern shipbuilders knew better than to construct a ship that might sink.

Next: This was on the menu.

The last meal served was a feast

Artifacts from the Titanic
Artifacts from the Titanic | Mario Tama/Getty Images

The last meal served on the Titanic was a bona fide feast, with ten courses served to first class passengers. The menu included oysters, cream of barley soup, poached salmon, and many other delicacies. It was served in the stately dining room on fine china.

Next: These were some surprising customers.

There were many wealthy passengers

First class passenger list Titanic
First class passenger list | London Express/Getty Images

John Jacob Astor IV was by far the richest passenger on board. At the time of sailing, he was worth $90 million, or today’s equivalent of $2 billion. But even money wasn’t enough to save him — he lost his life when the ship sank.

Meanwhile, chocolate mogul Milton S. Hershey was supposed to be on the ship but opted to take an earlier vessel instead.

Next: The captain did this one strange thing.

The lifeboat drill was canceled

The Titanic
The Titanic | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

There was supposed to be a lifeboat drill in the morning on the day the ship sank, but it was inexplicably canceled by the captain at the last minute. Ultimately, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference, since there weren’t enough lifeboats available for everyone.

Next: The Titanic’s captain exemplified bravery.

Captain Smith went down with his ship

Captain Smith of the Titanic
Edward John Smith (1850 – 1912), captain of the Titanic | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

It’s said that a captain is meant to go down with his ship, and in the case of the Titanic’s Captain Smith, that’s exactly what happened. His last words were: “Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.” There’s still a statue of him in Lichfield, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

Next: No expense was spared on first class.

Titanic’s first class quarters were very fancy

Titanic first class reception
Titanic first class reception room | Wikimedia Commons

The ship’s interior was a sight to behold. Said to be modeled after the fancy Ritz hotel in London., the facilities included a gym, pool, Turkish bath, a kennel for first class dogs, and even an onboard newspaper for travelers. The idea was to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible.

Next: This one thing may have sealed the Titanic’s fate.

The crisis could have been averted

Titanic | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The Titanic’s departure was delayed for six weeks because its sister ship needed repairs in the same dry dock. No one will ever know for sure if it would have made a difference, but the delay meant that the Titanic started sailing at a time of year when icebergs are more common.

Next: The anchor alone was gigantic.

The Titanic anchor is famous

Titanic anchor
The massive anchor of the White Star liner Titanic is transported to its destination in Belfast by horsedrawn cart | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Everything about the Titanic was huge. The anchor alone required 16 horses to carry it — remember, this was a time before shipping items of that magnitude happened all the time. The anchor still survives on the deck of the Titanic to this day.

Next: Every walk of life was represented.

There were all kinds of people on board the Titanic

Titanic family
Reverend Hartley along with his niece and daughter | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

There were three classes of passengers onboard the Titanic: first class, which included the wealthiest upper-class individuals, second class, including professors, authors, and clergymen, and third class immigrants. Even the cheapest rooms on modern ships would seem luxurious to travelers from the Titanic, where 700 people had to share one washroom with 2 bathtubs — one for men and one for women.

Next: The crew had an important job to do.

Titanic crewmen didn’t all make it off the ship

Titanic crewmen
Titanic crewmen | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Such a gigantic ship also required a substantial crew to keep it running smoothly. The crew included the captain, several officers, and deckhands on board. All in all, there were 885 staff members aboard the ship. Many of them survived the sinking.

Next: Someone predicted the Titanic disaster.

Was the Titanic wreck predicted in advance?

Titanic in dry dock
Titanic in dry dock | Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1898, a full 14 years before the fateful voyage, an author named Morgan Robertson wrote a book called, The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility, a novella about a huge ocean liner that sinks after striking an iceberg. The ship in the story is referred to as, “unsinkable” and there aren’t enough lifeboats for all the passengers.

Sound familiar?

Next: Appearance was more important than function.

The Titanic was made to look impressive

The Titanic
The SS ‘Titanic’, leaving Belfast to start her trials, pulled by tugs, shortly before her disastrous maiden voyage of April 1912 | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The Titanic had four smokestacks, but only three of them connected to the furnace. The fourth was added purely for aesthetic reasons to provide a look of symmetry. That fact gives some indication of how much thought went into the design and building of the vessel.

Next: Here’s where the glacier originated.

The iceberg became famous

Where the Titanic sank
Where the Titanic sank | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The 100-foot iceberg was traced back to a glacier in Greenland. Supposedly the ship was supposed to have binoculars on board, but the mariner David Blair was reassigned to another ship at the last minute. It’s believed that he accidentally took the keys to the storage locker that held the binoculars.

In the end, the iceberg was spotted less than a minute before the ship struck it.

Next: No one believed that this happened.

The boat split in two

Sinking Titanic
Sinking Titanic | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Almost no one believed survivor accounts that the ship ripped into two pieces as it was sinking. It wasn’t until the wreckage was discovered in 1985 that those stories proved accurate. The underwater wreckage showed that the massive ship was literally split in half.

Next: There was no social media.

No one knew what to think as they waited for news

Waiting for Titanic news
Florette Guggenheim | Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Titanic struck the iceberg about 400 miles from land and after it began to sink, it took on 400 tons of water per minute. But of course, no one knew that when the event first happened. People had to wait days, months, and years to find out the real story of what happened to the Titanic.

Next: There was a bit of fake news.

Newspapers weren’t exactly accurate

Titanic in the newspaper
Titanic in the newspaper | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The first newspaper accounts of the disaster reported no fatalities, a glaring mistake that was soon rectified. As soon as the real death toll started circulating, people came together to collect money for the many survivors. Everyone was shocked and horrified by the disaster.

Next: People were immediately obsessed.

The Titanic obsession started soon after the sinking

Titanic disaster fund
Children putting money into a collection box in aid of victims of the Titanic disaster | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

If people were obsessed with the Titanic before it sank, that fixation only became more prevalent after disaster struck. A silent film based on the sinking came out just 22 days after it happened. Debbie Gibson, a real Titanic survivor, was the star of the movie.

Next: There were all different kinds of people onboard.

Titanic survivors came from all kinds of different backgrounds

Awaiting survivors
Awaiting survivors | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The youngest Titanic survivor was Eliza Gladys “Millvina” Dean. She was just two months old when the boat sank. She and her brother and mother were some of the first third class passengers to get rescued when they were placed in lifeboats. Millvina died in 2009 at the age of 97. Her ashes were spread at the same docks where* the Titanic first launched.

Next: The survivor stories are incredible.

Titanic survivors have some unlikely stories

Titanic survivors
Titanic survivors | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

So many unique stories came about after the sinking of the Titanic. Like the account of Charles Joughin, the ship’s chief baker. Once the ship hit the iceberg, he started throwing chairs overboard to use as flotation devices. He also started drinking a lot of the boat’s liqueur.

Ultimately, this quick thinking may have saved his life — Joughin survived after floating in the freezing water for hours.

Next: This fact is so sad.

More people could have survived

Titanic survivors
Survivors of the Titanic disaster are greeted by their relatives upon their safe return to Southampton | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The saddest thing about the Titanic disaster? The huge number of fatalities were avoidable. Victims’ families are critical of all the luxuries onboard which were chosen over necessities, like lifeboats for everyone. In retrospect, the budget was maxed out in all the wrong places.

Next: The rescue boat came quickly.

Survivors were rescued by Carpathia

Titanic survivors
Titanic survivors | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Even Artie Moore, a Welsch radio operator, was able to hear Titanic’s distress call from 3,000 miles away using homemade radio equipment. The first ship to make it to Titanic’s aid was the Carpathia about four hours after the first SOS calls went out. Survivors got transported to New York to reunite with loved ones.

Next: This is the weird thing about the lifeboats.

More people could have been saved

Titanic testimony
Titanic inquiry | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Approximately 30% of the passengers onboard the Titanic got rescued — and some believe that number could have been much higher since there was room in the lifeboats for about half of those on board. The vast majority of survivors were first class passengers while only 24% of third-class passengers made it out.

Two of the nine dogs onboard were also saved.

Next: People still care about the disaster.

The Titanic will never be forgotten

Titanic memorial service
A memorial service for the victims of the Titanic disaster | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Even though the Titanic disaster happened more than 100 years ago, there’s little chance of anyone forgetting it anytime soon. The number of memorials, museums, movies, books, and articles about the event is staggering. People are still fascinated by the Titanic and all its legends.

Next: The movie about the Titanic was a hit.

The Titanic movie was a massive success

Titanic movie
Titanic movie | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The 1997 film version of the Titanic sinking may have been fictional, but it borrowed plenty of factual details from the real event. The movie was nominated for a record-breaking 14 Academy Awards and took home 11 of them. It cost $200 million to produce, but the popularity more than paid for the expense — in total, Titanic raked in over $2 billion worldwide and was the second film to ever reach that much revenue.

Next: The Titanic will always be popular.

No one seems to tire of the Titanic

Scale model of the Titanic
A scale model of the Titanic | William West/AFP/Getty Images

People have continued to honor the Titanic by creating scale replicas for decades now. One Chinese developer took things one step further when he decided to build a life-sized version of the ill-fated ship. The massive ship won’t sink, however — it’s being constructed 745 away from the ocean. It’s costing $145 million to build.

Next: Soon the Titanic will disappear.

The wreck will be gone soon

Titanic wreck
Wreck of the Titanic | NOAA/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island/Wikimedia Commons

A London-based travel company will take people on excursions under the sea to visit the wreckage — but only if you have deep pockets. Tours cost $105,129 per person.

But if you want to take a journey down, you’ll have to hurry. A rust-eating bacteria called Halomonas titanicae is slowly eating away at the remains of the ship. By 2030, it will be gone.