Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year and 2019 is the Year of the Pig.

The Chinese New Year is full of dragon dances, fireworks, feasts, gift-giving, and lantern festivals. Red is the traditional color of the holiday because it symbolizes luck and prosperity. Many families will paint their doors a bright scarlet to bring good fortune in the year to come. According to tradition, each year of the Chinese calendar is associated with one of the twelve zodiac signs: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, or pig.

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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 in History: Gold discovered in California in 1848

Today in History: Gold discovered in California in 1848

171 years ago today, the California Gold Rush (1848 – 1855) began when the carpenter James W. Marshall discovered gold at Coloma’s Sutter’s Mill near the Sacramento River. His discovery triggered the first and biggest gold rush in North American history. Within one year, some 80,000 gold-seekers – the so-called “forty-niners” – moved to the region to pursue their fortune. By 1853, the number of adventurers had risen to a quarter of a million. After exploiting the most productive gold mines, many of the newly created camps and villages became ghost towns. As a result of the great gold rush, the foundation for the “Golden State” of California had been laid. In 1850, California became the 31st state to join the United States.

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Today in History: Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933

Today in History: Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933

For a long time, bridging the San Francisco Bay with its dangerous currents and hurricanes was considered an incalculable risk. After all, a strait over 300 feet deep and more than a mile wide had to be linked. When Bank of America secured the funding for the project, work began on February 5, 1933. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. In addition, its two Art Deco style pillars were the tallest structures outside of New York. The bridge opened in May 1937. Construction offered many people work during the Great Depression. When hit with a severe earthquake in 1989, the bridge was not damaged.

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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: Delta Air Lines merges with Northwest in 2008

Today in History: Delta Air Lines merges with Northwest in 2008

The merger resulted in creating the world’s largest airline (at the time). The merged entity took on the name of Delta Airlines, and the Northwest Airlines brand name was retired.

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Today in History: First America’s Cup held in 1851

Today in History: First America’s Cup held in 1851

The America’s Cup is awarded to the winner of a race between sailing yachts. Thought to be the oldest international sporting trophy to be still awarded today, the cup’s name was changed from Hundred Guinea Cup to America’s Cup after the name of the yacht that won the first race on this day, led by Commodore John Cox Stevens,

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