Optimistic Outlook for Philly’s Largest Fixer-Upper?

The SS United States gets some welcome national press.

The long struggle to preserve the SS United States, the once-grand ocean liner now  in limbo on the Delaware, seems, on the surface, to have taken a new turn. The Associated Press reported last week that the ship’s owner, the SS United States Conservancy, has begun a project to clear out the belly of the ship and sell the materials. That space will then be fitted with modern utilities “to make it more appealing for developers interested in turning what was once the world’s fastest ocean liner into a massive dockside attraction.”

It’s great to see the ship get national attention, and the AP report does a nice job of providing the history of the ship and a strong rationale for its survival. But after so many years of panicked declarations, it’s depressing to read, once again, sentences like, “its future is still uncertain” and the Conservancy “warns that if its grand plans do not come together quickly, there might be no choice but to sell the historic liner as scrap.”

What will it take to make people understand the value and potential of this ship?

We like what Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs had to say to the AP’s Geoff Mulvihill as they toured the ship: “It’s a great fixer-upper.” She should be in real estate.

If you haven’t seen the ship, check out Laura Kicey’s incredible gallery.



SS United States Is Being Prepared for a New Life [ABC News/AP]

  • glenn

    ‘needs TLC’

  • Reid Eisenberg

    This ship has been scrapped piecemeal beginning in 1984 when interiors, furniture and fittings were first auctioned off. Years later in 1993, the ship’s interiors were gutted down to their metal bulkheads to remove asbestos. These materials were offloaded onto the docks and then scrapped. The ship is now an empty hulk. The situation here is not like the Queen Mary. Any restoration at this point would take a good half billion dollars. This new “clearing out of the belly” is nothing more than further scrapping to raise money for monthly expenses only to delay the inevitable. I have no idea what these folks are talking about regarding the “installation of modern utilities.” The USA – Obama, Congress, business tycoons, the media, the general public, simply do not care enough about this icon of American engineering to do anything to save it. Tragically, the Big U will probably soon meet an undignified end with the breakers in Chittagong or Alang. A shameful end.