Today in History: FC Barcelona formed in 1899

Today in History: FC Barcelona formed in 1899

119 years ago today, the popular football (soccer) club FC Barcelona was founded by footballer Hans Gamper. Informally known as Barça, the club is thought to be one of the top 5 richest football clubs in the world. The club has won 4 European Cups and is a 5-time Champions League winner.

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Today in History: Bay Bridge opens in 1936

Today in History: Bay Bridge opens in 1936

The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, known locally as the Bay Bridge, is a complex of bridges spanning San Francisco Bay in California. As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries about 260,000 vehicles a day on its two decks and has one of the longest spans in the United States. The toll bridge was conceived as early as the gold rush days, but construction did not begin until 1933. Designed by Charles H. Purcell, and built by American Bridge Company, it opened on November 12, 1936, six months before the Golden Gate Bridge. It originally carried automobile traffic on its upper deck, and trucks and interurban streetcars on the lower, but after the Key System abandoned rail service, the lower deck was converted to all-road traffic as well. Source: wikipedia.org

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Today in History: Theophile Steinlen born in 1859

Today in History: Theophile Steinlen born in 1859

Theophile Alexandre Steinlen (November 10, 1859 – December 13, 1923) was a Swiss-born French Art Nouveau painter and printmaker. Steinlen studied at the University of Lausanne before taking a job as a designer trainee at a textile mill in Mulhouse in eastern France. In his early twenties, he moved to the artistic community in Paris where he was befriended by the painter Adolphe Willette. The latter introduced him to the artistic crowd at Le Chat Noir that led to his commissions to do poster art for the cabaret owner/entertainer, Aristide Bruant and other commercial enterprises. Steinlen had hist “poster breakthrough” with his work for the cabaret artists Mothu  et Doria (1893); one of his best known images was “Lait pur Sterilise” (1894). Steinlen became a regular contributor to Le Rire and Gil Blas magazines plus numerous other publications including L’Assiette au Beurre and Les Humouristes. Between 1883 and 1920, he produced hundreds of illustrations, a number of which were done under a pseudonym so as to avoid political problems because of their harsh criticisms of societal ills. Steinlen died in 1923 in Paris and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.

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Today in History: Mona Lisa shown at Castle Clos Lucé in 1517

Today in History: Mona Lisa shown at Castle Clos Lucé in 1517

501 years ago today, Leonardo da Vinci allegedly presented his Mona Lisa to King Francis I of France. Da Vinci was invited to work at King’s castle in 1516 and it is believed that he took the Mona Lisa (and several other works) with him where he continued to make refinements to his masterpiece before presenting it to the King. The Mona Lisa was acquired by King Francis at the time and is now property of the French Republic. It is likely the most visited, most written and talked about, and possibly even the most valuable painting in the world. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.

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Today in History: Max Schmeling born in 1905

113 years ago today, German boxing legend Maximillian Schmeling was born. As the European heavyweight boxing champion, Schmeling came to the USA in 1928 and quickly became a sensation when he won the world title after defeating Johnny Risko and Jack Sharkey in 1930. In 1936, Schmeling scored a major upset by defeating the invincible Joe Louis. Louis won the rematch in 1938. Both fights became worldwide cultural events in light of the fighters’ national associations. Schmeling and Louis became good friends after the war until Louis passed away in 1981. Schmeling died at age 99 in 2005. Long after World War II, it was revealed that Schmeling had risked his own life in November of 1938 during the Reichskristallnacht when he saved the lives of two young Jewish brothers. It is said that Schmeling never talked about his heroic act.

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Today in History: U.S. postal system established

Post Museum, 1960s

Today in History: U.S. postal system established

On this day in 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system. During early colonial times in the 1600s, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other; it was more likely that their correspondence was with letter writers in Britain. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take many months to arrive. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin, who had been postmaster of Philadelphia, became one of two joint postmasters general for the colonies. He made numerous improvements to the mail system, including setting up new, more efficient colonial routes and cutting delivery time in half between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel both day and night via relay teams. Franklin also debuted the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight. In 1774, the British fired Franklin from his postmaster job because of his revolutionary activities. However, the following year, he was appointed postmaster general of the United Colonies by the Continental Congress. Franklin held the job until late in 1776, when he was sent to France as a diplomat. He left a vastly improved mail system, with routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a former Massachusetts congressman, as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.

Today, the United States has over 40,000 post offices and the postal service delivers 212 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands and American Samoa. The postal service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers, who handle more than 44 percent of the world’s cards and letters. The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules. However, it’s not cheap: The U.S. Postal Service says that when fuel costs go up by just one penny, its own costs rise by $8 million.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-postal-system-established

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Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

158 years ago today, the talented Czech Art Nouveau poster artist, illustrator and designer was born. Mucha initially worked as a theatrical scene painter in Vienna before a benefactor discovered his talents and financed his art studies in Munich and Paris. Mucha stayed in Paris where he designed his first posters. His breakthrough came in 1894 when he created the famous Gismonda poster starring Sarah Bernhardt. The actress was so impressed with Mucha’s work that she offered him a 6-year contract which paved the road for the artist’s subsequent success. Over the next 15 years, Mucha became the model Art Nouveau artist, creating posters, advertisements, calendars, postcards, and magazine and book illustrations. His work typically featured beautiful women surrounded by elaborate flowers. Mucha returned to live in Czechoslovakia around 1910 where he produced his masterpiece, a set of 20 mural paintings, the Slav Epic, depicting the history of his nation. He died in 1939, several months after being arrested and interrogated by the Nazis, following Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia.

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