Today in History: Volkswagen is founded in 1937

Today in History: Volkswagen is founded in 1937
82 years ago today, 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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Today in History: Golden Gate Bridge opens in 1937

Today in History: Golden Gate Bridge opens in 1937

82 years ago today, 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: Sale of Manhattan in 1626

Today in History: Sale of #Manhattan in 1626

393 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 is World Turtle Day!

Today is World Turtle Day!

Did you know that turtles have been around for more than 200 million years? These ancient creatures evolved before mammals, birds, snakes, or lizards! Biologists believe that turtles have managed to outlive many other species due to the unique protection provided by their shells. Turtles come in all different shapes and sizes, and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. The smallest is the Bog Turtle, which usually measures just four inches in length, and the largest is the Leathery Turtle, which can weigh up to 1500 pounds! Source: punchbowl.com

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Today in History: Otto Baumberger born in 1889

Today in History: Otto Baumberger born in 1889
130 years ago today, noted Swiss painter and poster artist Otto Baumberger was born in Zurich. Baumberger produced some 200 posters of great quality and style and is one of the main representatives of the Swiss Sachplakat (object poster).

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Today in History: TWA begins commercial service in 1934

Today in History: TWA begins commercial service in 1934

On May 18, 1934, TWA (Trans World Airlines) officially launched its commercial service on the Columbus-Pittsburgh-Newark route with the Douglas DC-2. The aircraft’s success quickly led to its introduction on most TWA routes, and the growth of others. The most prominent of these was the Sun Racer, also known as TWA Flight 1, which promised to deliver passengers from coast to coast in a single day.

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Today in History: Kentucky Derby

Today in History: Kentucky Derby

144 years ago today, on May 17, 1875, a cheering crowd of 10,000 people watched the horse, Aristides, a Thoroughbred named after an ancient Greek general, and his rider, Oliver Lewis, cross the finish line to win the first ever Kentucky Derby. The first derby was a 1.5 mile race (the traditional 1.25 mile distance was not established until 1896). Thirteen of the fifteen jockeys in the race, including Oliver Lewis, were African-American.

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