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September 2002

Skyline Salute

Even the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan seemed to stand taller when the United States steamed past before her maiden voyage to France and England in 1952. She was the largest passenger ship ever built in the U.S., and her three-day transatlantic passage broke the previous speed record held by Britain’s Queen Mary. “After the loud and fantastic claims made in advance for the liner United States,” complained Punch, the British magazine, “it comes as something of a disappointment to find them all true.”

The ship sailed for 17 years. She’s now docked in a Philadelphia port, awaiting renovation.

This photograph has never before been published in National Geographic.

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Photograph from Bettman/Corbis