S.S. AMERICA, S.S. UNITED STATES sailing on the 'All American' team to Europe

Dream to reality

The great lady decorators. Anne Urquhart, left, Dorothy Marckwald, right. Photo by Wilbur Pippin.

The great lady decorators. Anne Urquhart, left, Dorothy Marckwald, right.
Photo by Wilbur Pippin.


The S.S. United States and America embodied America on the high seas in the same manner as did the ‘Queens’ for the Cunard Line and the Ile De France for France. Walk up the gang plank after a long sojourn in Europe and you were back in the USA. The American style and sprit of these liners was no accident. Interior designers Dorothy Marckwald and Anne Urquhart discarded the stuffy old world style previously found on American ships and replaced it with a modern fresh contemporary look that emphasized simplicity over palatial, restrained elegance over glitz and glitter, and modern interiors that were soothingly homelike.It was a winning combination that brought back travelers year after year.

The drawing board versus the final spaces. Notice the drawings appear more expansive and the art work is still subject to change. That change is most notable in the Cabin class dining room, where the aluminium mural changes from a spread eagle to Taurus the bull with yet another change ( see cabin class dinning room description)


The artistry of Gwen Lux has yet to be defined on the center wall.. The final sculpture in first class dining room provided a touch of the grandeur. Soaring fifteen feet over the double-height main room, the four feminine figures created a focal point that distracted the eye from the obtrusive columns required for potential gun emplacements on the decks above.



First and second class theater; “You will love the theater where the best first-run films are shown. It’s as ultra modern as a theater can be.”

First class theater, shared with Cabin class

“First class passengers will spend many relaxing hours in this restful smoking room.

The smoker: Colors included a hint of brown overshadowed by a variety of copper, yellow, orange, red, and green. The combination gave the room a cozy, clubby atmosphere.

First class stateroom

First class stateroom


Cabin class dining; The cabin class dinning salon is midnight blue… the curtains are a combination of green and red stripes. Here with quiet indirect lighting, brilliant sculpturing in bas-releif, gleaming china and silver and snowy white table linen, is the perfect setting for mealtime at sea.”

Cabin class dining room. The artwork changed between concept drawings and reality. In the cabin class Taurus the bull replaced the aluminum cast spread eagle. The representation of Taurus proved a twinge too graphic for the sedate postwar code of modesty that still dominated society. The prominent male genitalia of the well-endowed aluminum bovine caught the eye of several guests … The most notably George Horne, the New York Times’ shipping news editor, who took the matter of common decency all the way up to William Francis Gibbs. Overriding objections (from the artist and decorators), the oblivious bull was unceremoniously emasculated and the severed appendage delivered to the Times’ shipping news room affixed to a mahogany plaque.” From A Woman’s Touch: The Seagoing Interiors of Dorothy Marckwald, Gordon Ghareeb

Cabin class stateroom








For the swimming pool Dorothy Marckwald departed from the ‘Roman Bath’ school of pool design found on the Queen’s with a clever simulation of a tropical beach. Sunken lights and a starlit indigo ceiling compensated for the low space over the pool. The decorative signal flags on the far wall spelled out “Come on in, the water’s fine.”

Tourist dining
L Driscoll collection

Tourist dining
L Driscoll collection

Cabin lounge

Tourist Cabin rendering L Driscoll collection

Tourist Cabin