So what do we think will happen to her really


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Oct 1, 2009
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There is no trick to avoiding the comedy of errors that has been the fate of the Queen Mary for four decades.

Queen Mary's problems began the moment she arrived in Long Beach. Suddenly they were met with a huge ocean liner and no idea of what to do with her. "Oh my, what are we going to do now?"

Greed stepped up to the helm and has had her hands on the wheel ever since.

Remove that factor, replace it with a clear plan for the future for the SS United States, and things should fall in line much like they have for the Rotterdam. It wasn't smooth sailing for Rotterdam, but they had a plan plotted for her and kept to it.

Queen Mary had no plan, and that opened the way for opportunistic operators. When Long Beach realized they had no interest in being in control of an ocean liner, they willingly turned their back and let whomever do whatever in the name of a quick buck. That included gutting much of her and letting much of what wasn't gutted fall into a state of dilapidation, as the fact that she was an ocean liner was in the way of the dollar signs dancing in the vision of operators who couldn't care less, and an owner entity who couldn't be bothered to pay attention to what was happening to their property.

Those now in charge of the SS United States are preservationists/historians/enthusiasts, not developers/attention seekers who see the ship as a pawn in their get-rich-quick schemes ala Queen Mary. "Save the United States" is their mantra, not "Exploit the United States".
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Queen Mary's problems began the moment she arrived in Long Beach.

A point well driven home to potential salvors of the United Sates is LOCATION IS KEY.

If you were going to pick a WORSE location for the Queen Mary than Long Beach, you'd really have to do your research. It is far removed from the other tourist attractions of Los Angeles; the drive out is tedious, and once you are there, you are in a place that has nothing going for it other than the Queen Mary. You dont spontaneously drop in to see her...it requires preplanning, and if you are like most tourists you want to 'multitask' your attractions. When you eye other potentially fun things to combine your QM visit with, you come to realize that Watts, Compton and South Central are by far the most interesting things you can piggyback on to your drive out or back.

She's not a strong enough attraction to overcome the WASTE OF A DAY argument.

Moored in San Francisco, where she would be in the heart of the tourist stroll, she'd pick up a substantial number of impulse tourists. she's kind of stranded in her present location.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>the drive out is tedious...<<

There's an understatement for you. I've seen the ship numerous times from the I-405 but I was too busy trying to avoid getting creamed by some of the local drivers to concern myself with a detour.
 

James Carey

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SSUS can't be compared to Rotterdam or QM.

She is just an outside hulk with a name on her.

No interiors, no running powerplant and still filled with PCB's that have to be removed.
 

Jim Kalafus

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An academic restoration of the United States' interiors, rather than a broad interpretation of what they once were, will present problems of its own.

In the context of her day, the interiors were quite remarkable. The queens Mary and Elizabeth had interiors designed around a conservative color scheme based on fluids your body produces while ill, while the Liberte inherited a big chunk of salvaged Normandie material- suitably garish and unfashionable- and subsequently looked like a fairly tacky brothel, and the Ile de France, as rebuilt, was just plain bizarre.
All were at least 20 years behind the times, stylistically.

Italia DID have a few liners on the South American run with airy, high-style interiors, but when the United States made her debut, the North Atlantic was still a fairly grim place to travel.

The impression that the United States made THEN, of brightness, newness, and lack of bordello-clutter, was quite striking. However, to current eyes, not used to enclosed-feeling ships with entire rooms furnished in shades of vomit, the impression will likely be one of an underfurnished formerly-deluxe motel in a part of town that the interstate bypassed.

So, should the interiors be literally reconstructed and cause people to think "It looks like a bad motel" or should they be interpretively rebuilt, with the trick lighting, bold colors, and very of-its-era artwork of the Italia ships? Or the cool, but in its own way lavish, elegance of the Scandinavian ships of the 1950s and 60s? Either way, it will be more crowd pleasing.... but academically dishonest.
 

Jim Kalafus

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In favor of literal reconstruction, is the fact that the United States' original interiors were designed to be entirely removed in a day or two, should troopship work be required. Except for the glass panels in the ballroom and the Navajo inspired artwork in the cocktail bar, there was very little on board that could not be replicated on the cheap.
 

John Clifford

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quote:

I've seen the ship numerous times from the I-405...

Actually, Michael, the best area to see the Queen Mary is when you are heading south to the 710 (Long Beach) Freeway, from Terminal Island.
It's a great view when coming off the Gerald Desmond Bridge.
However, I also have to agree about the crazy/idiot ("sometimes stronger adjective term used") local drivers.

Sadly, the ship is near to, but still a slight drive, from the areas near Ocean Avenue.

Even the Pike Marketplace area is good for a view of the ship, but looking out to the Harbor, not close by.

While a park area, a restaurant/banquet facility, and a hotel are close to the ship, it is true that Queen Mary's area is primarily for ship container operations and the Carnival Cruise port.

For the SS United States, it needs to be placed in a viable tourist-oriented area, like is the case with the USS Intrepid, in New York.​
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Actually, Michael, the best area to see the Queen Mary is when you are heading south to the 710 (Long Beach) Freeway, from Terminal Island. <<

Oh I beleive it. The view I got from the Suicide Memorial Parkway I-405 was far from the greatest but she was still the most prominant object in the local "skyline."

I just never had the guts to do anything beyond try to get away from there as quickly as possible. The drive was horrendous...especially during rush hour...and the locals really were out to get you.
 

Sean Hankins

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"SSUS can't be compared to Rotterdam or QM."

She can.

The Rotterdam had much of her interior stripped out to the bare metal for restoration, then replaced.

The Queen Mary came to Long Beach as a fully operational liner. Once she became a toy for the city with the deep pockets full of tidelands oil funds to play with, while still trying to figure out what to do with her, they decided to spend hundreds of millions tearing out the lower five decks.

The SS United States had her interior fittings removed but unlike the QM is still structurally intact. If restoration is going to happen, its a question of how she'll be refitted as a shoreside attraction.
 
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>>The Rotterdam had much of her interior stripped out to the bare metal for restoration, then replaced.<<

I think the point to be mindful of in this instance is that the Rotterdam at least had her fittings which were there and available for refitting or replacement. The SSUS doesn't.

If I recall correctly, at lot of her fittings were made of asbestos or asbestos based synthetics. Restoring that simply isn't an option though the preservationists could try something else.
 

Sean Hankins

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Mike, too true. What I'm most curious about is whether what the Rotterdam went through with her interiors would be more or less costly than what the Big U requires. Many times restoration can cost more than a newbuild on this scale (and unfortunately a major reason why we lose so much of our history to the wrecking ball). As someone pointed out above, much of the Big U's interiors were very utilitarian and could be pretty cost effective to replicate. Also since she is just a shell, she's ready for new electrical and plumbing work.

And Jim has some very real concerns on how the interior would be restored: As it was, or something a bit more of a nod to what it was while making it appeal to a general audience today.

Hopefully if the Conservancy realizes their goal of refurbishing the ship, it sounds like they have a better goal in mind than a floating catering venue with built in motel 6 and 2nd rate amusement park a la QM.
 
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What is the condition of the steelwork?
The factor that works against restoration is the overall state of the US economy. As well as the United States I'd like to see the Savannah restored also [sans nuke fuel of course.

When I was a boy in the early 70's she was a ship of the future in my ship books back then along with the Raffaello and Michelangelo, now sadly dismantled for razor blades ay Alang.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Midcentury modern is currently very hot.

However, the United States' take on the style was extremely conservative and, to be honest, mimicked what could be bought at Sears, even in First Class. High end Sears was the stuff that ended up in garages and rec rooms during the 70s, having beer puked on to it by teenagers. "Too good to throw out; too out of style to have in the living room any more."

So, the visceral impact of the interiors, to anyone born after 1950, will be akin to "oooh...I threw up on a couch just like that once."

The temptation to the designers to bring in the high-end, designer, material.... the stuff that went to private collections, and not rec rooms... will be great. Aiming more for Leonardo da Vinci and France and Kungsholm, and not Sears.

The Scandinavian ships, and to a lesser extent Italia vessels, did amazing things with wood.

Italia specialized in stage-like lighting effects.

These things are all back in style now.

The United States had none of these currently hot things.

So, the question remains... fudge on authenticity, and create a period piece interior that matches what fans of the revived style like, or stay true to form and create a comfortable, fireproof, but very conservative interior that will not please fans of the style and which will cause most laymen to think REC ROOM / THRIFT SHOP FURNITURE?

Myself... I'd prefer the artificial interior. I find HISTORIC RECREATIONS a la Williamsburg to be depressing, because there is virtually no sense of history there. On the United States, nearly everything that the rich and famous and middle class and not famous came in contact with is gone. There is no chance at all that you'll be sitting in the same chair that, say, the Windsors did, or propping yourself up drunkenly against the same gypsum board partition that Joan Crawford drunkenly propped herself up on.... all of that stuff is gone, and a literal rebuild will just be a large, visually displeasing, room full of recreated Sears furniture. No historical connection at all.

So, go for over the top... it will generate more money.
 
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>>What is the condition of the steelwork?<<

My understanding is that the condition of the hull is surprisingly good even with over four decades of neglect. Part of this may be due in no small part to the time the ship was properly preserved in long term layup. It may also explain why NCL had an interest in the ship even knowing it what it would take to rehabilitate her.
 
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