Round Tour > The Journey 2/2
The Crossing
Within only a few decades, progress in shipbuilding had radically altered conditions for emigrants. During the first half of the 19th century, the reaction to the sudden and immense demand for tickets to America was slow at best. A new level "between decks" was created on freighters in which the mass of emigrants could be transported - in highly cramped conditions, and with inadequate ventilation. Many emigrants died as a result of inadequate hygiene and bad food.

The new and far more spacious steamers shortened the 8 to 12 weeks of a sailing ship to just a few days. The first regular Transatlantic connection was opened on April 8, 1838 by the British steamer "Great Western", which took only 15 days and 5 hours to cover the distance from Bristol to New York. Since this option was a very expensive one, however, emigrants still tended to travel by sailing ship until the end of the century. Even with the advent of the great passenger liners, an Atlantic crossing was still a dangerous undertaking, as shown by the tragedy of the „Titanic“ in April 1912.

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