History Today: Ellis Island opens in doors in 1892
125 years ago today, America’s first federal immigration station opens on Ellis Island in New York. Only 700 immigrants entered the United States passing through Ellis Island that day. But over the course of the year, almost half a million more followed! More than 12 million people passed through the island over the next five decades.
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112 years ago today, New York City Mayor George McClellan inaugurates the city’s new rapid transit system, the subway. The original line ran approximately nine miles through 28 stations from City Hall north to Grand Central Station, then west to Times Square and up the West Side to 145th Street. The general public was invited to travel the new train at 7 pm on that day when more than 100,000 people paid a nickel to take their first rider under Manhattan. The New York City subway soon became America’s largest underground train network. Today, it has 26 lines, more than 450 stations in operation and some 4 ½ million daily passengers.
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Today in History: The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York in 1885
131 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: Sale of #Manhattan in 1626
390 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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Today in History: 1939 New York World’s Fair
On April 30, 1939, the New York World’s Fair opened its doors to the public. Using the motto “Building a World for Tomorrow,” the opening ceremony featured a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was broadcast live on television, an event that would have significant consequences. While only few people owned a television at the time, it instantly became clear that the TV would become the biggest new mass medium. The Expo Fairground in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens showed two new imposing landmarks: the Trylon and the Perisphere. With 63 participating nations, the fair and its architecture were modern and futuristic. New technologies and consumer goods such as the FM radio, fluorescent lighting, and nylon stockings were among the Fair’s success stories.
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103 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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Today in History: David Klein died in 2005
David Klein was an American artist who is perhaps best known for the iconic travel images he created for Trans World Airlines (TWA) during the 1950s and 1960s. Klein studied art in Los Angeles and was a member of the California Watercolor Society during the 1930s. He served as an illustrator for the U.S. Army during World War II and moved to New York in 1953 where he worked as an art director for a theater advertising agency while also producing posters for successful plays. His breakthrough as a commercial artist came when he developed the advertising campaign for TWA. He created dozens of vibrant posters that display famous landmarks in an abstract style. David Klein passed away in New York in 2005 at the age of 87.
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