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American steamer MONUMENTAL CITY

Date: 10 September 1853
Overall: 139 x 286 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00008744

User Terms

    This engraving from The Illustrated News shows the steamship MONUMENTAL CITY underway from port side at sea. Beneath the image is the caption 'American steamer, MONUMENTAL CITY, wrecked on the coast of Australia'.
    SignificanceThis engraving depicts the American steamship MONUMENTAL CITY, famed for being the first screw steamer to cross the Pacific Ocean.
    HistoryBuilt in 1850, the American 737 ton steamer MONUMENTAL CITY was the first screw steamer to cross the Pacific Ocean, attracted by the Victorian gold rush. On 5 May 1853, the vessel left Sydney destined for Melbourne, and ten days later ran aground off Tullaberga Island (near Gabo Island) and was completely wrecked.

    Tens of thousands of miners criss-crossed the Pacific Ocean between Australia and America. A $20 one-way ticket bought the traveller a bunk and space for one trunk, the trip between Sydney and San Francisco taking about six weeks. In 1852, naval architect and shipwright Donald McKay designed the clipper ship SOVEREIGN OF THE SEA specifically for the Australian trade. It was capable of withstanding the roaring 40s and considerably shortened the trip.

    The gold rush that followed discovery of gold in Australia in 1851 tripled the population in just 10 years. Just four months after the first gold was found near Bathurst, more than 1,000 prospectors had swarmed to the site. In the next year alone 370,000 migrants from America, Europe and China arrived in Australia. Business in goldfield towns was thriving, the manufacture of local produce increased, as did rate of international imports and exports. This increase in population not only impacted on the economy, but also had lasting effects on the development of the Australian colonies and national psyche.

    As in California, only a small number of miners made a real fortune in the Australian gold rush. It was easier and more common to gain wealth by establishing businesses and trade related to the diggings. Many unsuccessful miners turning to grazing cattle, fruit plots or stores selling over-priced goods, supplies and services.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: American steamer MONUMENTAL CITY


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