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Immigration Aboard America’s Fastest Passenger Ocean Liner

Immigration has always played a part in American history, and in the years following the Second World War, the SS United States played a major role.

For Michael Pittner and his family, crossing the Atlantic aboard the SS United States was an American dream in itself:

The Pittner family prepares to board America's Flagship. Photo courtesy of Michael Pittner.

Michael Pittner remembers:

My parents, my two brothers and I (then 11 years old) departed Germany and boarded the SS United States in Le Havre, France, on June 30, 1955. As an inquisitive youngster, I immediately explored the ship, returning to my parents and telling them where this was located, and where that was to be found. We were 3rd class passengers, but somehow, without realizing it, I found myself in the 1st class section of the ship and was soon shooed back to our own cabins. I was just bubbly with excitement. The sheer size of the ship was for me, an 11-year old, just unbelievable.


“The arrival in New York City and passing the Statue of Liberty was very, very exciting. Seeing all those skyscrapers — is this reality, or am I in a dream world?”

— Michael Pittner, February 2016


The SS United States is not only a national symbol of American pride and history; she was the gateway to the American dream for thousands of passengers. She helped carry our nation’s ancestors, some of our most successful, inspiring people, to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.


The Big U radiates grandeur and ingenuity. She will continue to inspire generations to come with the same spirit and momentum that has powered her through the past 65 years — and we are dreaming of another 65 more. Donate to the SS United States Conservancy today and help make that dream a reality.

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