Today in History: World’s 1st Bicycle Race

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Today in History: World’s 1st Bicycle Race
On this day in 1868, the world’s first bicycle race was held in France. It was a 1,200 meter race at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, Paris. It was won by expatriate Englishman James Moore who rode a wooden bicycle with iron tires.

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Today in History: Jules Cheret born in 1836

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Today in History: Jules Cheret born in 1836

On this day in 1836, French painter and lithographer, Jules Cheret, was born in Paris. Cheret became a master of Belle Epoque poster art and is often called the father of the modern poster.

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Happy Birthday, David Lance Goines

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Happy Birthday, David Lance Goines
The American artist, calligrapher, and book printer was born in 1945 and celebrates his 76th birthday today. Mr. Goines lives and works in Berkeley, California.

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Today in History: Volkswagen is founded in 1937

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Today in History: Volkswagen is founded in 1937
on this day in 1937, the German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen was established. The idea for a small, affordable family car was introduced years earlier by the engineer, Ferdinand Porsche, who wanted to create an automobile that was easy to build and inexpensive to buy. In 1933, Adolf Hitler got involved and contracted Porsche to design and build the Volkswagen (“People’s Car”) that could fit 2 adults and 3 children, drive 100 km/h (62 mph) and would cost no more than 1,000 Reichsmark (approx. $396). Hitler quickly funded the building of a brand-new Volkswagen factory to create Ferdinand Porsche’s design. Construction began on May 26, 1937. Volkswagen was founded two days later on May 28.

The People’s Car was to be made available to all German citizens through a state-sponsored savings plan at a price of 990 Reichsmark (comparable to the price of a small motorcycle at the time). The car was initially called a KdF-Wagen (Kraft durch Freude / Strength through Joy). But by the time the first cars had been produced – the KdF-Wagen was displayed for the first time at the Berlin Motor Show in 1939 – World War II started. All production was halted and re-focused on military vehicles. No cars were ever delivered through the savings plan. One early Type 1 convertible model was given to Hitler on his 50th birthday.

At the end of the war, with the factory plant in ruins, the Allies used Volkswagen to help revive the German auto industry and thus the success story of the VW Beetle began. In 1950, the “beetle”-shaped car sold for approx. 4000 Deutsche Mark (approx. $2000). In 1955, VW had produced its one millionth car. In 1972, the Beetle broke the long-standing worldwide production record of Ford’s legendary Model T with 15 million vehicles. By 2003, when the last original Beetle rolled off the production lines in Puebla, Mexico, almost 22 million Beetles had been sold in over 150 countries – a true world record.

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First Indoor Swimming Pool opens in London in 1742

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First Indoor Swimming Pool opens in London in 1742

On this day in 1742, 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

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Today in History: Golden Gate Bridge opens in 1937

On this day in 1937 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: Miles Davis born in 1926

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Today in History: Miles Davis born in 1926

On this day in 1926, American jazz legend, Miles Dewey Davis III, was born in Alton, Illinois. Davis was among the most influential figures in the history of jazz music and 20th century music. His five-decade career kept him at the forefront of a number of major stylistic developments in jazz.

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Art History: Eugene Grasset born in 1845

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Art History: Eugene Grasset born in 1845

The acclaimed Swiss decorative poster artist would turn 176 years old if he were still alive today. Grasset (25 May 1845 – 23 October 1917) studied drawing and architecture and worked as a painter and sculptor before he moved to Paris in 1871. It was not until the late 1870s that Grasset became interested in graphic design. He created  his first posters in the mid- to late-1880s. Grasset was famous for his classical portrayal of women. His poster works are considered cornerstones of the Art Nouveau movement.

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Today in National Wine Day

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Today in National Wine Day

Pour a glass of your favorite wine on May 25 to participate in National Wine Day.  Celebrated each year, it has a sister holiday in February, National Drink Wine Day

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Today in History: Sale of Manhattan in 1626

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Today in History: Sale of #Manhattan in 1626

On this day in 1626, 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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