II. The Evolution of the Ocean Liner

The first generations of steam engines were not entirely reliable and oceangoing ships like the Italy, City of Brooklyn, Palmyra and Belgenland [13-16] carried auxiliary sailing rigs until the early 1880s. Progress thereafter was swift, and by the 1890s steamships assumed a profile that would remain fundamentally unchanged for more than half a century.

Ships sported two, three, or four funnels painted with house colors: red with two or three narrow black bands and black top for Cunard; buff for Norddeutscher Lloyd (after 1889) and Royal Mail Lines (after 1900); United States Lines’ red with a white band below a blue top; and so on.

The switch to diesel power and other efficiencies reduced the number and size of funnels over time. However, some ships—like the Olympic and Titanic [part 11] and Normandie [51, 60]—carried a non-working “dummy” funnel solely for aesthetic reasons.