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Queens Chronicle

Titanic still thrills after a century

Two victims of 1912 shipwreck now rest in Queens cemeteries

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Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:58 pm, Thu Apr 19, 2012.

George Rosenshine and Sinai Kantor likely had very little in common.

Rosenshine was a businessman from a prosperous Manhattan family. Kantor, by most available accounts, was a Russian Jewish emigre traveling to the United States with his young wife in search of a better life.

Rosenshine was 46 and Kantor 34 when they died in the north Atlantic Ocean on the night of April 14-15 in the sinking of the Titanic.

And both now rest in quiet corners of cemeteries in Queens.

The ship went down on its maiden voyage 100 years ago this week, a tale chronicled in books and movies, including the 1997 Oscar winner for best picture, “Titanic.”

It was the largest, most luxurious ship ever built at the time, and was carrying some of the world’s wealthiest and most prominent people.

It sank after striking an iceberg. It had enough life boat capacity for just over half of the more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board, leading to 1,503 deaths.

The wreck was discovered in 1985 by an international team led by American oceanographer Bob Ballard.

Kantor, a second-class passenger, was one of the last of 333 bodies recovered by ships hired by the White Star Line, which owned the Titanic.

He is buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Maspeth, his grave nestled at the end of a row on a sunny rise. His wife, 24 at the time, survived.

Rosenshine, one of the first recovered and whose death earned him an obituary in the New York Times, rests in his family plot at Bayside Cemetery in Ozone Park.

Most accounts report that he sailed from the French port of Cherbourg on a first-class ticket under the name of George Thorne, as he was traveling with his mistress, who also survived.

The Chronicle was unable to locate the Rosenshine plot in Bayside Cemetery, which has fallen into disrepair and legal troubles in recent years. But Richard Hourahan the collection manager at the Queens Historical Society, said it would not have been unusual for even socially prominent Manhattanites to be buried in Queens and the outer boroughs

“When they started running out of land in Manhattan in the 1800s, many churches and congregations, particularly wealthy ones, bought land here. That’s how Queens came to have so many cemeteries,” he said.

Marisa Berman, executive director of the society, said she is not surprised that the story of the Titanic has kept the public’s attention for 100 years.

“I think people are always attracted to tragedies, particularly when there is some sort of conflict,” she said. Berman pointed to two New York disasters — the General Slocum ship fire that killed more than 1,000 off the Hellgate section of Queens in 1904, and the Triangle factory fire that killed 146 in Manhattan in 1911, which more people seem to remember.

“The General Slocum was the worst disaster in New York City prior to 9/11,” she said.“But Triangle is what people latch on to.”

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