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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Wealthy Passengers on the Titanic: The Millionaires

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TITANIC MILLIONAIRES

America. A new world without limits.

Even the sky could not hold back the ambitious.

As the buildings grew ever higher,

those with enterprise became ever richer.

In 1861, there were only three millionaires in the United States.

By 1900 there were nearly 4,000,

and they needed something to spend their millions on.

Titanic.

Titanic was the largest manmade object that moved.

It wasn't simply enormous, it was magnificent in every way.

With the British Union Flag flying from one side of her

and the American Stars and Stripes at the other,

the super-rich and powerful had a new toy the century would never forget.

The millionaires of 1912,

like Mr and Mrs Astor,

were the equivalent of today's movie stars.

The press and public couldn't get enough of them.

John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest passenger on Titanic.

There were several other millionaires on board

and crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of them.

Benjamin Guggenheim,

George Widener

and Isidor Straus.

Together, their fortunes exceeded one hundred million dollars.

From the splendour of the suites or Parisian café,

the crossing was so smooth,

the passengers thought they were in a first-class hotel.

While far below, the newly designed turbine engines

were powered by 29 coal-fired boilers

powerful enough to move this 46,000-ton vessel at a speed of 22 knots per hour

without spilling anyone's drink.

Like most of his contemporaries,

JJ Astor knew all about the technological innovations of the age,

and had even written a novel on the subject.

For the ladies on the upper deck, fashion and gossip were the main sport,

while the lower decks were enthralled with their own modest luxuries.

Titanic left for New York in April 1912.

Neither technological innovation

nor wealth were to make any difference.

After the impact with the iceberg,

Astor, like many others, did not believe the ship was in any serious danger.

But soon there was no ignoring the fact that the unsinkable ship was sinking.

Astor bade farewell to his 18-year-old bride after helping her into a lifeboat,

saying he would see her in the morning.

John Jacob Astor, the richest man on board Titanic,

died alongside 1500 others from all classes and all continents.

All equal in death.

And so the technological triumph of the new century,

the epitome of Edwardian engineering, ended in tragedy.

As the First World War beckoned,

life for the elite and empire would never be the same.

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