The Titanic love story of Isidor and Ida Straus

IsidoridastrausIf you’ve seen the movie, you might remember this tragic side story. But on the 101st anniversary of the demise of the unsinkable liner in the Atlantic, it bears another telling.

Germany-born Isidor Straus came to the U.S. in 1854. He got started in the dry-goods business, and by 1902, he and his brother co-owned Abraham & Straus and Macy’s, opening the famous Herald Square store that year.

Isidor and his wife, Ida, also a German immigrant, married in 1871. Successful and wealthy thanks to Isidore’s business efforts, they became generous philanthropists.

In 1912, after a trip to Germany, they were booked to return to New York on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. In the early morning hours of April 15, with the fate of the ship sealed and women and children getting into lifeboats, Ida Straus refused to leave Isidor.


“Mrs. Straus almost entered lifeboat 8 but changed her mind, turned back, and rejoined her husband. Fellow passengers and friends failed to persuade her otherwise,” states Stuart Robinson in Amazing and Extraordinary Facts: the Titanic.

Strausparksign“She is reputed to have told Isidore: ‘We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.'”

Passengers reported seeing the couple “standing alongside the rail, holding each other and weeping silently,” according to a 2012 New York Post article.

Isidor’s body was recovered, but Ida’s was never found. A memorial service for the two held at Carnegie Hall a month later drew thousands, including Mayor Gaynor, Andrew Carnegie, and other notable New Yorkers.

In 1912, the city renamed a park at 106th Street and Broadway Straus Park in honor of the couple, who had lived on 105th Street.

A monument dedicated three years later featured the biblical inscription, “lovely and pleasant they were in their lives, and in their death they were not divided.”

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9 Responses to “The Titanic love story of Isidor and Ida Straus”

  1. Gary Says:

    Their mausoleum is one of the sights of Woodlawn Cemetary in the Bronx.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, I went up there and saw it but the photos came out too dark!

  3. Ryan Says:

    They also have a school named after them at 96th/3rd Avenue in Manhattan. Is this because of their German connection and the schools location being in/near a nearly disappeared Yorkville?

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Interesting, I don’t know. I’ve read that they focused their philanthropic efforts on education and the resettling of Jewish immigrants.

  4. Lady G. Says:

    Awww. So sad. But that’s true love. In the movie, they were the elderly couple holding each other in bed as the water rushed in.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Supposedly in real life they held each other while sitting in deck chairs outside.

  6. A young socialite goes down with the Titanic | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] of incredible heroism and bravery marked the sinking of the Titanic, doomed by an iceberg in the North Atlantic 113 years ago next […]

  7. Lyn Says:

    By “the movie” I assume you mean the crappy 90’s version and not the magnificent A Night To Remember. I could never understand why James Cameron felt the need to waste time with a fictional love story when the facts were far more interesting. A shipboard romance of a few days is not true love. Voluntarily dying with your partner after a lifetime together is true love. I guess their story wasn’t deemed important enough due to ageism.

  8. The somber “Angel of Death” statue in Prospect Park | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] by Arthur D. Pickering and sculpted by Augustus Lukeman (he did the Straus Memorial on the Upper West Side), the Angel of Death honor roll was unveiled in […]

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