The City of New York and her sister ship,
City of Paris, were the largest and fastest passenger liners of that time. The City of New York was said to have been not
only the largest, but the most luxurious. Her triple stacks and “clipper” bow gave her the appearance of speed.
The ship was fitted with running hot and cold water, electric ventilation and electric lighting. She offered first class passengers
a library and smoking room, both fitted with walnut panels. Over the dining salon was a massive dome that flooded the room
with natural light.
The liner carried 362 officers and crew members
and offered accommodations for up to 1,740 passengers.
The Inman Line was hit financially in 1892
when the British government stopped subsidizing the two liners. To resolve the problem the ownership was transferred to the
American Line. The City of New York was renamed New York and she steamed a regular route between New York and Southampton
for the next five years.
When the United States declared war on Spain
in 1898, the U.S. government requisitioned New York for service as a troop ship and re-named it USS Harvard. It was a short
skirmish and the ship was decommissioned in September, 1898, and renamed New York.
The ship went through an extensive refit
after one of the engines broke down amid a crossing to Southampton. Her engines were replaced with a newer one and the three
funnels were replaced with two taller funnels.
The New York’s one near claim to fame
occurred on April 10, 1912, while berthed in Southampton. She was torn from her moorings by the massive new ship Titanic which
was leaving port on the first leg of its fateful voyage into destiny. A collision was narrowly avoided when Titanic’s
skipper, Capt. Edward Smith ordered the port propeller thrown in reverse. A nearby tugboat operator managed to tow the New
York out of harm’s way.
By 1913 the old New York was showing her
age. She was reconfigured as a Second and Third Class only liner and a year later was moved to a run between Liverpool and
New York. She was still operating when the United States declared war on Germany in 1917 and the steamer was once again commissioned
as a troop carrier. This time she was given the name USS Plattsburg. This time the ship actually saw war duty. She was painted
with the strange camouflage configuration that was believed to have made it difficult for U-boat skippers to see on an open
The special paint job did not protect the
ship from mines. She struck one while approaching Liverpool on April 9, 1917, just before she was commissioned by the U.S.
Navy. After repair, the Plattsburg went to work as a troop transport. She made four voyages to France carrying nearly 9,000
servicemen to battle before the 1918 Armistice. She then made seven more trips carrying more than 24,000 troops back to American
After the war, with one of her masts removed,
the ship returned to passenger service at the New York in 1920. She still operated with the American Line, within the year
she was sold to the Polish Navigation Company. After one voyage the new owner went bankrupt. The old New York was seized by
creditors and sold to the Irish American Line in 1922.
As often happens to old ships during their
last days, the New York moved from owner to owner until ending up the property of the American Black Sea Line. She made her
last Atlantic crossing in June, 1922 from New York to Naples and Constantinople. After that she was sold for scrap.