To me, these huge constructions speak of my city’s former greatness, of a time when Belfast was world-class at something other than mural-painting or heart disease.
So, in one sense I’m glad that tourism chiefs are investing so much in turning the place into Titanic Town.
But I’m also uneasy about this year’s festivities. I hope that, amid the lights shows and the MTV concerts, the true nature of the city’s industrial past isn’t glossed over.
Like virtually every Belfast Protestant I have family connections to the shipyard.
My grandfather was a fitter who went to Harland and Wolff when there was work to be done – which meant every hour God sent from 1939 to 1945 when the yard employed 35,000 men and churned out a ship every two weeks.
But after the war things got harder. When there was a ship to be built my grandfather had work. When there wasn’t, he looked for employment elsewhere – often without success.
My mother remembers her father rising at 5.30am to get the bus from their small town, 20 miles up north to the shipyard.
My grandfather would walk the last part with hundreds of other men, each of them wearing a duncher (flat cap) and carrying their sandwiches in a tin piece-box – known in this part of the world as a “snap”.
My great uncle Charlie, who was a carpenter, was also employed in the yard in the 1950s and 1960s and worked on the SS Canberra, the last liner ever to be built in Belfast.
Like millions of industrial workers, his job was the death of him.
Charlie passed away 10 years ago of asbestosis.
We don’t know which of his many workplaces was responsible for his death but it doesn’t really matter. It was contempt for the safety of the working man that sent Charlie to his grave.
It’s important, amid all the Titanic celebrations, that the generations of shipyard workers who made Belfast great are properly honoured.
When I return to my native city this summer I’ll be making a pilgrimage to the new Titanic museum by the banks of the Lagan.
A ticket to get into the multi-million pound gleaming behemoth will set me back £13.50.
But, despite forking out the hefty entrance fee, there will still be one part of the tourist attraction which will be out-of-bounds.
I won’t be allowed on to the top two floors of the new museum which include a recreation of the Titanic’s famous sweeping staircase.
That part of the building is reserved for corporate visitors who have paid through the nose to attend a conference or banquet.
If the worst should happen and a fire breaks out at the museum, I hope the toffs on the top floors won’t have access to some sort of super-quick escape route which is closed to the little people down below.
That would be the wrong kind of tribute to the men who built the Titanic.