Today is World Radio Day

Today is World Radio Day

World Radio Day is about celebrating radio’s unique power of touching lives and bringing people together across the globe. #WorldRadioDay was proclaimed in November 2011 by UNESCO’s General Conference. Source: wikipedia.

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Today in History: Fountain Pen patented 135 years ago

Today in History: Fountain Pen patented 135 years ago

On 12 February 1884, New York insurance salesman Lewis Waterman patented a groundbreaking invention, the fountain pen. Waterman’s instrument was a winner: it did not require constant dipping into the ink well and almost eliminated any ink spills. Writing instruments that contained their own ink supply already existed in the early 18th century. Today’s oldest surviving fountain pen was designed by the Frenchman M. Bion and dates back to 1702. The first American patent for a pen was awarded in 1809 to P. Williamson, a Baltimore shoemaker. After 1850, there was a steady stream of new fountain pen patents and pens in productions. But while early fountain pens were plagued by ink leaks and other failures that left them impractical to use and difficult to sell, it was Waterman’s patent that promoted the fountain pen to a widely popular writing instrument.

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Today is National Umbrella Day

Today is National Umbrella Day

The umbrella keeps us dry from the rain and can also protect us from the heat of the sun. The basic umbrella was invented some 4000+ years ago, evidenced in ancient art of Egypt, Greece and China (the Chinese were the first to waterproof umbrellas). The first umbrella shop – James Smith and Sons – opened in 1830 and is still located in London, England.

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Today in History: Davis Cup established in 1900

Today in History: Davis Cup established in 1900

119 years ago today, the silver trophy known today as the Davis Cup is first put up for competition when American collegian Dwight Filley Davis challenges British tennis players to come across the Atlantic and compete against his Harvard team.

Davis, born in St. Louis, Missouri, won the intercollegiate tennis singles championship in 1899. In the summer of that year, he and his Harvard teammates traveled to the West Coast to play against some of California’s best players. Impressed by the enthusiasm with which spectators greeted the national competition, Davis decided to propose an international tennis event. He won the support of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association and personally spent $750 on the construction of an elegant silver trophy bowl, 13 inches high and 18 inches in diameter. In February 1900, Davis put the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy up for competition.

Great Britain, regarded as the world’s leading tennis power, answered Davis’ challenge, and on August 8, 1900, three top British players came to the Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to compete against Davis and his all-Harvard team.

Davis had devised a three-day format for the event that still exists today: two singles matches on the first and third days, and a doubles match on the second day. He was captain of the U.S. team and on August 8 received serve on the very first Davis Cup point, which he hit out. He ended up triumphing in the singles match, however, and the next day with Holcombe Ward defeated the British doubles team. Rain forced the cancellation of two of the singles matches, and the first Davis Cup ended with a 3-0 Harvard sweep.

Davis was famous for his powerful left-handed serve and concentrated on a risky net play strategy that won him brilliant victories and unexpected defeats. With Ward, he won the U.S. doubles title in 1900 and 1901, and he was ranked fourth nationally in 1902. That year, the British returned for a Davis Cup rematch in New York, and the star American doubles team succumbed to the ascendant Doherty brothers–Laurie and Reggie. The United States pulled ahead in singles, however, and kept the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy with a 3-2 overall victory.

The next year, the Doherty brothers helped take the trophy back to England for the first time. In 1904, Belgium and France entered the Davis Cup competition, and soon after, Australia and New Zealand, whose players played collectively as Australasia. The trophy did not return to the U.S. until 1913 and then stayed only for a year before departing for Australasia.

After receiving a law degree, Dwight Davis returned to St. Louis and became involved in local politics. Beginning in 1911, he served as public parks commissioner and built the first municipal tennis courts in the United States. He fought in World War I and earned the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery. In 1920, he made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate but the next year traveled to Washington nonetheless as director of the War Finance Corporation. Beginning in 1923, he served as assistant secretary of war under President Calvin Coolidge and in 1925 was made secretary of war proper. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed him governor-general of the Philippines, and he served in this post–which essentially made him the ruler of the Philippines–for the next four years.

Throughout his distinguished career as a statesman, Davis remained involved in tennis as both an avid recreational player and an administrator. In 1923, he served as president of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association. When the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy ran out of room for names, he donated a large silver tray to go with the bowl.

Today, the Davis Cup, as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy is commonly known, is the premier trophy of international team tennis. Each year, dozens of nations compete for the right to advance to the finals. Shortly before his death in 1945, David said of the growing prestige of the Davis Cup, “If I had known of its coming significance, it would have been cast in gold.”
Source: http://www.history.com.

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Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

136 years ago today, Southern Pacific Railroad completed its transcontinental “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California, consolidating its dominance over rail traffic to the Pacific.

One of the most powerful railroad companies of the 19th century, the “Espee” (as the railroad was often called) originated in an ambitious plan conceived in 1870 by the “Big Four” western railroad barons: Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, and Mark Hopkins. A year earlier, the Big Four’s western-based Central Pacific had linked up with the eastern-based Union Pacific in Utah, creating the first transcontinental American railway. With that finished, the “Big Four” began to look for ways to increase their control over West Coast shipping and decided to focus their efforts on extending the California-based Southern Pacific southward.

By 1877, the Southern Pacific controlled 85 percent of California’s railroad mileage. Huntington, who now dominated the company, saw an excellent opportunity to create a transcontinental line through the southern United States. Huntington had to act fast if was to beat the competition. The Texas and Pacific Railroad was already pushing westward toward the Pacific at a fast pace. Marshalling his awesome energy and financial resources, Huntington began driving his Southern Pacific line eastward. He won the race in 1881, when he linked the Southern Pacific to the Santa Fe Railroad at Deming, New Mexico, creating the second American transcontinental railway. Two years later, on February 5, 1883, Huntington gained full control of a number of smaller railroads, creating the Southern Pacific’s “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California.

With the “Sunset Route,” Huntington confirmed his domination over California rails. He had taken considerable financial risks to build the Southern Pacific system, and he collected very considerable financial rewards. The Southern Pacific had a near monopoly over rail service to California, and Huntington and his associates took advantage of the situation by charging high shipping rates.

Termed “the Octopus” for its tentacled stranglehold on much of the California economy, the Southern Pacific inspired Californians to create some of the first strong public regulations over railroads in American history. But despite the anger and outrage Huntington’s exploitation inspired, few would deny that the mighty Southern Pacific Railroad played an essential role in fostering the growth of a vibrant California economy for decades to come.
Source: http://www.history.com.

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Today is National Thank a Mail Carrier Day

Today is National Thank a Mail Carrier Day

There is mail in your mailbox six days a week so let’s take time out of our day to thank the mail person who is responsible for getting it there! Thank A Mail Carrier Day (also known as Thank a Mailman Day) is always observed on February 4th. It is a reminder of just how important mail carriers are to our everyday lives. The motto of the Pony Express riders, who were the most famous early American mailmen, was “Neither rain, or snow, nor death of night, can keep us from our duty.” This motto is believed to be taken, in part, from a motto dating back to ancient times. The most popular variation of this motto is “Through rain or snow, or sleet or hail, we’ll carry the mail. We will not fail.” Some fun facts: In 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the Constitutional Post–the first organized mail service in America. Postage stamps were invented in 1847. On April 3, 1860, the famous Pony Express officially took off. In 1863, free city delivery started, and in 1896, free rural delivery began. In 1963, the Zip Code began. Source: nationaldaycalendar.com
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Today in History: World’s largest railway station established in 1913

Today in History: World’s largest railway station established in 1913

106 years ago today, the world’s largest train station was inaugurated in New York City. It took 10 years to construct Grand Central Station, the gigantic, multi-level railway cathedral. The station quickly became one of the most famous buildings in New York. With some 500,000 visitors a day, Grand Central remains the city’s busiest building today. All long-distance transit is handled on the upper floor, regional traffic on the lower level. The train station is known for its huge waiting rooms and its excellent shopping. In 1978, the New York landmark only narrowly escaped demolition after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, after which it has been completely renovated.

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