New inventions, such as the telephone, electric lights, trolleys, and the first movie cameras, created a sense of optimism and trust in the power of engineering and scientific discovery. Architects built towering skyscrapers and opulent public buildings; engineers built automobiles, airplanes, and cruise liners. This sense of limitless possibilities was tempered, though, in 1912, when the Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Questions and Answers
Question: How did the people on board respond to the crisis?
Answer: The Titanic was engineered to be “unsinkable,” so at first, some of the passengers probably felt disbelief. Later, panic and chaos ensued as people struggled to get to the life boats. When it became clear that not everyone would get off the Titanic, some men rushed to get on lifeboats. Others kissed their families goodbye and prepared to go down with the ship. The elderly founder of Macy’s department store, Isidor Straus, was offered a seat on a lifeboat because of his age, which he declined. His wife, Ida, refused to leave without him. The couple went back to their room where they died together. Several wealthy, famous passengers were aboard. Benjamin Guggenheim put on his evening clothes, saying, “We are dressed in our best and prepared to go down as gentlemen.” Heiress Molly Brown helped calm and encourage women and children as they got into the lifeboats, refusing to get into a boat until everyone near her was loaded.
Visit National Geographic Kids to learn more about the Titanic.
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