Paula Nelson, writing for The Big Picture, on the ship's tragic maiden voyage:
The sinking of the RMS Titanic caused the deaths of 1,517 of its 2,229 passengers and crew (official numbers vary slightly) in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The 712 survivors were taken aboard the RMS Carpathia. Few disasters have had such resonance and far-reaching effects on the fabric of society as the sinking of the Titanic. It affected attitudes toward social injustice, altered the way the North Atlantic passenger trade was conducted, changed the regulations for numbers of lifeboats carried aboard passenger vessels and created an International Ice Patrol (where commercial ships crossing the North Atlantic still, today, radio in their positions and ice sightings). The 1985 discovery of the Titanic wreck on the ocean floor marked a turning point for public awareness of the ocean and for the development of new areas of science and technology. April 15, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster.
Make sure to click through and check out the gallery -- the photos are incredible.
I've always been fascinated by the Titanic, though I have not and will not watch James Cameron's romanticized, over-the-top commercialization of the tragedy. I have, however, watched several PBS documentaries on the topic, and have found them all to be very insightful.
Hard to believe it's been 100 years already.
Update 4/10: I razzed my buddy, Chris Martucci, on Twitter about "stealing" the essence of this post. In all seriousness, though, his post is a great complement to mine. Be sure to read both of them.