David’s Reflections on the Ship’s Potential Rebirth

The restored SS United States as rendered by renowned author-illustrator David Macaulay. Macaulay continues to advise the Conservancy on curatorial issues, including its forthcoming digital exhibition.  The Norman Rockwell Museum has begun planning a special exhibition that will feature David Macaulay's fascinating explorations of the SS United States, beginning with his initial shipboard encounter as a ten-year-old transatlantic passenger.

The restored SS United States as rendered by renowned author-illustrator David Macaulay. Macaulay continues to advise the Conservancy on curatorial issues, including its forthcoming digital exhibition. The Norman Rockwell Museum has begun planning a special exhibition that will feature Macaulay’s fascinating explorations of the SS United States, beginning with his initial shipboard encounter as a ten-year-old transatlantic passenger.

For me the most important reason for developing the SS United States is simply to preserve its iconic form. In other words, it’s all about the view — the elegant lines, the breathtaking scale and the bold no-nonsense colors. But this is no trivial matter. Whether she travels the sea or rests at a city pier, this ship still has the power to transport those on board and particularly those who see and approach her from a distance.

Once the fastest ocean liner in the world, built to carry presidents, movie stars and ten-year-old kids like me, just the appearance of the SS United States remains a powerful reminder of American ingenuity, vision, and skill while at the same time sparking imagination and inspiring dreams yet to be realized.

In this sketch I returned to the simplicity of the ship’s exterior to hint at the juxtaposition of this “horizontal” skyscraper against a dynamic urban context and possible port of call.