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The firm's formal name for much of its history was the Liverpool, Philadelphia and New York Steamship Company, but it was also variously known as the Liverpool and Philadelphia Steamship Company, as Inman Steamship Company, Limited, and, in the last few years before absorption, as the Inman and International Steamship Company.
By embracing new technology, Inman Line became the first to show that unsubsidized ocean liners could profitably cross the North Atlantic.
White Star also set new standards for comfort by placing the dining saloon midships and doubling the size of cabins.
Inman reacted quickly, bringing its express liners back to the shipyards for compound engines and other changes to match the new White Star liners, while Cunard lagged behind.
As a result, Inman was able to charge steerage rates of 8 guineas, while the fastest sailing packets charged 4 to 6 guineas.
During the period, Inman liners typically carried 500 passengers, 80 percent in steerage.
Inman's City of Paris of 1866 was the first screw liner that could match the speed of the paddlers.
By 1870, Inman landed more passengers in New York than any other line.
The Richardsons withdrew from the firm because of its involvement with the war, and William Inman assumed full control.
With its first steamer, City of Glasgow of 1850, Inman led the drive to replace wood-hulled paddle steamers with iron-hulled screw-propelled ships.
In 1852, Inman established that steerage passengers could be transported in steamships.
At the end of the war, Inman resumed service to Philadelphia.
However, New York was now the primary gateway to the west, and Inman decided to alternate between the two ports.