Today in History: Ernst Litfass born in 1816

Today in History: Ernst Litfass born in 1816

203 years ago today, German printer and publisher Ernst Litfass was born. Litfass is best known for his invention of the free-standing cylindrical advertising column – the Litfasssäule (Litfass Column) – that premiered in Berlin in 1855. During the first half of the 19th century, posters had seen a huge increase as a means of advertising. The uncoordinated posting of announcements and ads on homes, trees, walls and any open street corner became a nuisance which resulted in a decree in 1849 that prohibited any placarding of posters with the exception of government notices. Litfass responded to the demand for a regulated system and signed a contract to erect special advertising columns throughout Berlin to address the problem. In return, he was granted exclusive rights for the display of the posters.

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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 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: Facebook launched in 2004

Today in History: Facebook launched in 2004

The American social networking site launched its services 15 years ago today. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, all of whom were students at Harvard University. Facebook is the largest social network in the world, with more than two billion users as of 2018. The company’s headquarters are in Menlo Park, California.

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Today in History: National League of Baseball founded in 1876

Today in History: National League of Baseball founded in 1876

143 years ago today, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, commonly known as the National League (NL), was formed. The American League (AL) was established in 1901 and in 1903, the first World Series was held. The first official game of baseball in the United States took place in June 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became America’s first professional baseball club. Two years later, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was established as the sport’s first “major league.” In 1876, Chicago businessman William Hulbert formed the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs to replace the National Association. The National League had eight original members: the Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, Mutual of New York, Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Brown Stockings. Source: history.com.

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Today in History: Buster Keaton died in 1966

Today in History: Buster Keaton died in 1966

53 years ago today, Hollywood actor, director, and producer Buster Keaton passed away at the age of 70 in Los Angeles, California. Keaton was best known for his comic performance in silent films during the 1920s. His films “The General” (1926) and “The Cameraman” (1928) remain among the most highly regarded films of all times.

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