Today in History: The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York in 1885

Today in History: The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York in 1885

130 years ago today, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor after being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean from France in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 cases. The statue was a gift of friendship to the United States from the people of France. The copper and iron statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi who named it “Liberty Enlightening the World.” It was dedicated by U.S. President Grover Cleveland on October 28, 1886. At 305 feet from its pedestal to the top of its torch, the Statue was taller than any New York City structure at the time. Today, the Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most famous landmarks and known around the world as a symbol of freedom and democracy.

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Today in History: First Roller Coaster in USA opens in 1884

Today in History: First Roller Coaster in USA opens in 1884

On this day in 1884, the first roller coaster in America opens at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York. Known as a switchback railway, it was the brainchild of LaMarcus Thompson, traveled approximately six miles per hour and cost a nickel to ride. The new entertainment was an instant success and by the turn of the century there were hundreds of roller coasters around the country.

Coney Island, a name believed to have come from the Dutch Konijn Eilandt, or Rabbit Island, is a tract of land along the Atlantic Ocean discovered by explorer Henry Hudson in 1609. The first hotel opened at Coney Island in 1829 and by the post-Civil War years, the area was an established resort with theaters, restaurants and a race track. Between 1897 and 1904, three amusement parks sprang up at Coney Island–Dreamland, Luna Park and Steeplechase. By the 1920s, Coney Island was reachable by subway and summer crowds of a million people a day flocked there for rides, games, sideshows, the beach and the two-and-a-half-mile boardwalk, completed in 1923.

The hot dog is said to have been invented at Coney Island in 1867 by Charles Feltman. In 1916, a nickel hot dog stand called Nathan’s was opened by a former Feltman employee and went on to become a Coney Island institution and international franchise. Today, Nathan’s is famous not only for its hot dogs but its hot dog-eating contest, held each Fourth of July in Coney Island. In 2006, Takeru Kobayashi set a new record when he ate 53.75 hot dogs with buns in 12 minutes.

Roller coasters and amusement parks experienced a decline during the Great Depression and World War II, when Americans had less cash to spend on entertainment. Finally, in 1955, the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, signaled the advent of the modern theme park and a rebirth of the roller coaster. Disneyland’s success sparked a wave of new parks and coasters. By the 1970s, parks were competing to create the most thrilling rides. In 2005, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, introduced the Kingda Ka roller coaster, the world’s tallest (at 456 feet) and fastest (at 128 mph).

By the mid-1960s, the major amusement parks at Coney Island had shut down and the area acquired a seedy image. Nevertheless, Coney Island remains a tourist attraction and home to the Cyclone, a wooden coaster that made its debut there in 1927. Capable of speeds of 60 mph and with an 85-foot drop, the Cyclone is one of the country’s oldest coasters in operation today. Though a real-estate developer recently announced the building of a new $1.5 billion year-round resort at Coney Island that will include a 4,000-foot-long roller coaster, an indoor water park and a multi-level carousel, the Cyclone’s owners have said they plan to keep the historic coaster open for business. Source: history.com.

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Today is National Red Rose Day

Today is National Red Rose Day

National Red Rose Day honors the flower that is a symbol of love and romance. Red roses were used in many early cultures as decorations in wedding ceremonies and wedding attire. It was through this practice that, over the years, the red rose became known as a symbol of love and romance. The tradition of giving red roses as the strongest message of love is still practiced today.

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Today in History: London’s Big Ben starts taking time

Today in History: London’s Big Ben starts taking time

Big Ben is the nickname commonly used to describe the famous Elizabeth Tower (Clock Tower prior to 2012), the Great Clock and the Great Bell of Westminster Palace in London. But the name originally applied only to the bell. The history of the clock dates back to 1843 when construction of the Clock Tower began. A competition was held but due to concerns about the clock’s accuracy it took seven years for the designs to be finalized. The clock was finished in 1854 and two years later, the first Big Ben bell was cast. During testing in October of 1857, however, the bell cracked. In April of 1858, a new bell was completed. With all bells in place, the Great Clock was installed in the spring of 1859. The Clock started taking time on 31 May. On July 11, Big Ben’s Great Bell’s strikes could be heard for the first time. Its quarter bells first chimed on September 7.

 

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First Indoor Swimming Pool opens in London in 1742

First Indoor Swimming Pool opens in London in 1742

276 years ago today, the world’s first indoor pool – the Bagnio – opened its doors in London. London in the 18th century had a stench all its own, the Thames and Fleet open sewers, the streets still clogged with filth. The poor still used the open waterways of the capital for the pleasure of swimming, though the degree of pleasure to be had from a dip in the Thames at that time is perhaps debatable. Thus it was that the Bagnio, opened on May 28 1742 in Lemon Street, Goodman’s Fields, was a business idea whose time had come. For the subscription of a guinea gentlemen (and only gentlemen, ladies were not to be countenanced) could use the 43 foot long pool, advertised as being warmed and kept fresh every day. As this was indoors the prying eyes of lesser mortals would be kept from the wealthy users – at the price of a guinea the lower rungs of society were unlikely to be interested in the pool. The facilities of the Bagnio included a cold pool as well as the warmed one, and what were described as waiters were available to teach the art of swimming to those who had not yet mastered it.

Two observations should be made about the Bagnio as an innovation. The first is that the Romans in the first century AD are believed to have had such facilities in Britain – they had already installed a heated pool in Rome in the first half of the century. The second is that Bagno or Bagnio was also a synonym for brothel, so we may speculate on other services available beyond swimming coaching in the Lemon Street establishment. (source: http://www.information-britain.co.uk)

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Today in History: Golden Gate Bridge opens in 1937

Today in History: Golden Gate Bridge opens in 1937

81 years ago today, on the opening day of the Golden Gate Bridge, some 200,000 pedestrians appeared to cross the bay between San Francisco and Marin County. A day later, the bridge opened to traffic. With a total length of 8,981 ft. (2,737 m), the Golden Gate Bridge remained the largest suspension bridge in the world until 1964. First ideas and drafts of the project started circulating at the end of the 19th century but no one thought the project financially and technically feasible. Today, the bridge is considered to be one of the Wonders of the Modern World. Frommers travel guide called it ” possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.”

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Today in History: Sale of Manhattan in 1626

Today in History: Sale of #Manhattan in 1626

392 years ago today, Peter Minuit, a Dutch colonist, acquired Manhattan from unnamed Native American people in exchange for trade goods worth 60 Dutch guilders (approx.. $1100 today, accounting for inflation). With the purchase, the settlers wanted to lay the foundation for a central Dutch presence in North America, calling it New (Nieuw) Amsterdam, what is now lower Manhattan.

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