The RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner, and briefly the world’s biggest ship, had been launched by the Cunard Line in 1906 – a time of fierce competition for the North Atlantic trade. On Sunday 8th September 1907 a crowd claimed to be of some 200,000 people had gathered to see her depart on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic. It was on this day – Friday 13th September 1907 – that she arrived at Sandy Hook, New Jersey having taken a total of 5 days 54 minutes to cross the Atlantic. Fog had delayed her on two of the days, and her engines were not yet run in but, despite this, she was only 30 minutes outside the record time held by the German liner Kaiser Wilhelm II.
In New York hundreds of thousands of people were reported to have gathered on the banks of the River Hudson to watch the Lusitania’s arrival – all New York’s police had been called out to control the crowds. We are told that there were 100 or more horse drawn cabs that had begun queuing from the very early morning in readiness to take the passengers away to their hotels and homes. During the week’s stay on the Hudson before the return to England the Lusitania was made available for guided tours.
There were some who thought it was not a good idea for the Lusitania to dock on Friday 13th – they thought it was unlucky. On Friday 7th May 1915 the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, causing the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew.