This Week in History: January 19-25

Featured Article, History, This Week in History
on January 19, 2014
roller coaster history
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster was built in 1924. The classic seaside ride is a National Historic Landmark.

Not satisfied with how your day is going? Why not change when that day is? That’s what Elisabeth Achelis tried to do with her World Calendar in the 1930s. She proposed a standard system in which every date was on the same day of the week. Read below to see how her idea was received:

January 19:
edgar-allen-poe-authorEdgar Allen Poe Birthday
One of America’s most celebrated writers of horror and mystery, Edgar Allen Poe, was born on this day in Boston, Massachusetts. Credited with developing the detective story with his “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Poe’s gothic short stories and poetry dealing with death, love and the macabre have earned him a place among the American literary pantheon. The Baltimore Ravens are named after his poem, “The Raven.”

January 20:
Roller Coaster Patented
Amusement parks gained one of their hallmark attractions on this day in 1885. Inventor LeMarcus Adna Thompson patented the roller coaster after developing similar gravity rides and scenic railways. The roller coaster’s origins stretch back to 17th and 18th century Russia where great ice slides were reinforced with wood. Nowadays, roller coasters have sped past their wooden origins and are many are built with steel. There are more than 6,000 roller coasters in the world today.

January 21:
Concorde-British-AirwaysFirst Concorde Flight
With the introduction of the Concorde supersonic jet on this day in 1976, travel became faster than sound. With supersonic speed, the Concorde could fly transatlantic flights in half the traditional time or less. The Concorde got its name from the agreement between France and the United Kingdom to jointly built and purchase the engineering marvel. Concorde flights were notoriously expensive. Only 20 planes were built and after large losses to both France and Britain, the program ended in 2003.

January 22:
Francis Bacon Birthday
Noted statesman, philosopher, scientist and writer Francis Bacon was born on this day in 1561 in London. Bacon is famous for his empirical approach to viewing the world and tackling scientific problems. He is a key figure within the Enlightenment, forcing a reexamination of previously held ideas through observation and empiricism. Bacon helped push for North American colonies and was highly regarded by the Founding Fathers. He is sometimes suspected or credited with writing some or all of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. Bacon died in 1626.

January 23:
USS Pueblo Captured
The Cold War’s winds blew from a new direction on this day in 1968. The USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, was captured in the Sea of Japan near North Korea. North Korea holds that the ship veered into its waters, while the U.S. believes it was stationed in international waters. The seizure of the vessel and its crew happened a week before the start of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The crew was held for 11 months until their release on December 22, 1968. The body of Duane D. Hodges, the only crewman killed, was also released. This incident increased the strain on U.S./North Korean relations. North Korea still holds the ship and uses it as a tourist attraction.

January 24:
Elisabeth Achelis Birthday
The designer of the World Calendar, Elisabeth Achelis, was born on this day in 1880. Achelis, a political advocate, was passionate about creating a calendar system that would apply to all people around the world. Her proposed World Calendar had equal quarters and every date was always on the same day of the week. This simplified system gained some traction; legislation was proposed in Congress regarding the World Calendar, and Achelis argued for a uniform calendar at the United Nations. The World Calendar’s changes to the Gregorian system have yet to be implemented, but there are still supporters of the change. Achelis died in 1973.

First Canned Beer
After Prohibition, beer companies were wiling to take risks. The American Can Company and the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company took a risk that putting beer in a can would pay off. Their “innovation” in the history of beer debuted on this day in 1935 in Richmond, Virginia. The small, cheap, and portable packaging made canned beer an instant success. 200 million canned beers sold in the first year. Pull-tab cans were introduced in 1963.

January 25:
First Televised Presidential News Conference
The President came to the press on this day in 1961. Five days after his inauguration, President John F. Kennedy held a televised press conference in a State Department Auditorium and spoke about two aviators released from Russia, famine in the Congo and upcoming negotiations about nuclear testing. He also took questions from the press. Kennedy began a tradition that continues to this day.