The United Nations occupied four sites, three of them in New York. The first regular session of the General Assembly was held in October 1945 at Central Hall in London. The United Nations then moved to Hunter College in the Bronx, before establishing interim headquarters at Lake Success on Long Island in August 1946. The … Read more
Boston was the first American city to be admitted to the National Hockey League, in 1924. The Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup Championship in 1929 and have won it five times since then (1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 1990).
The first situation comedy on television was a live show called “Mary Kay and Johnny” (1947-50, Dumont). Forerunner to I Love Lucy, the live show concerned the adventurous life of New York newlyweds Johnny and Mary Kay Stearns. The couple’s real-life newborn son was worked into the show in 1948.
The Massachusetts militiamen won the Battle of Lexington and Concord when they forced the British to retreat from Concord back to Boston. This was the first battle of the War of Independence The British were trying to confiscate colonial arms from a depot at Concord. The battle, which took place on the night of April … Read more
The practice of using economic means to achieve foreign policy goals is known as “dollar diplomacy”. It was first associated with President William Howard Taft (served 1909-13) and his Secretary of State Philander C. Knox.
Operation Torch was the Allied invasion of French North Africa beginning on November 8, 1942. Assault troops, almost all American, captured Morocco and Algiers with mostly British naval support.
Explorer John Cabot was Italian. Born Giovanni Caboto in Genoa, Italy (c. 1450), he sailed under the English flag. He appears to have reached Newfoundland in 1497, a year before Columbus reached the American mainland. Cabot was lost at sea in 1498.
The electric sign on 1 Times Square at 42nd Street in New York that displays headlines was installed in 1928. At that time, the building housed offices of the New York Times and was known as the Times Tower. It is now owned by several general and limited partners and runs headlines from New York … Read more
The 50 U.S. states, with their dates of admission to the Union, are listed below. The original 13 states are marked with an asterisk. Alabama-1819 Montana-1889 Alaska-1959 Nebraska-1867 Arizona-1912 Nevada-1864 Arkansas-1836 New Hampshire-1788* California-1850 New Jersey-1787* Colorado-1876 New Mexico-1912 Connecticut-1788* New York-1788* Delaware-1787* North Carolina-1789* Florida-1845 North Dakota-1889 Georgia-1788* Ohio-1803 Hawaii-1959 Oklahoma-1907 Idaho-1890 Oregon-1859 Illinois-1818 … Read more
Directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982) is the all-time money-making champ at $228.6 million. Star Wars (1977), directed by George Lucas, is in second place at $193.5 million. Either individually or together, Spielberg and Lucas have helped create seven of the top ten money-making movies.
The kingdom of Israel, formed in 930 B.C. by 10 of the original 12 Hebrew tribes, was conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. Those 10 tribes were exiled and assimilated into other nations, and so vanished from history. The other two tribes, founders of the separate kingdom of Judah, lived on.
It was in 44 B.C. that Julius Caesar was assassinated. The date was March 15, the Ides of March.
The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed twice. The first Temple was razed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The second was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.
Abraham Lincoln was watching Our American Cousin, by Tom Taylor, on the evening of April 14, 1865. It was during this play when John Wilkes Booth entered Lincoln’s private box and fired his one-shot derringer. Lincoln’s bodyguard had stepped away for a drink of water.
Todt Hill, on Staten Island, at 426 feet is the highest natural elevation in the New York metropolitan area. In fact, it is the highest point on the eastern seaboard south of Maine. Cadillac Mountain in Maine is the highest point on the eastern seaboard.
Of the 22.4 million Hispanic-Americans counted in the 1990 census, more than 60 percent (13.5 million) are of Mexican heritage. Another 2.7 million are Puerto Rican, 1 million are Cuban, and the rest are “other.” All together, Hispanics, who can be of any race, account for 9 percent of the U.S. population.
The comic book industry began to regulate itself with the Comics Code Authority in 1954. Among other rules, it required that “Policemen, judges, government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority,” and “In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal … Read more
There are 13 stars, arrows, olive leaves, and olives in the Great Seal of the United States, symbolizing the original 13 colonies. The design of the seal was approved by Congress in 1782. As seen on the back of the dollar bill, the seal consists of an eagle holding olives and arrows in its talons, … Read more
The average time the 17th- and 18th-century peasants and laborers spent to pay off the debt incurred by their passage to America (about $100) was four years.
As of 1991, the top three leading NFL touchdown scorers are: Jim Brown-126 touchdowns Walter Payton-125 touchdowns John Riggins-116 touchdowns
In 1803, the U.S. Congress granted Lewis and Clark $2,500 for an expedition to explore the territory west of the Mississippi River. Selected by President Thomas Jefferson to lead the group of 50 people were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Starting out from St. Louis, Missouri, the expedition crossed the Rockies and reached the Pacific … Read more
Mike Ditka was the coach of the Chicago Bears for 11 seasons. He took over as coach in 1982 and was relieved of his position in January 1993, at the close of the 1992 season. He led the Bears to victory in the 1986 Super Bowl.
Cost-of-living raises, based on the U.S. cost-of-living index, were first negotiated into General Motors-United Auto Workers Union contracts in 1948.
In 1989, 76.9 percent of the U.S. population aged 25 and over has completed high school. Only 21.1 percent has completed college.
The first American cookbook was the 1796 collection American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, whose pen name was “An American Orphan.” Four editions of the book appeared between 1796 and 1808.
In World War II, over three times as many Americans died: 405,399, including 291,557 in battle and 113,842 from other causes. An additional 670,846 Americans received nonlethal wounds.
About 300,000 persons lived in the city of Athens during the Age of Pericles. Slightly less populous than modern Albuquerque, New Mexico, with its 330,000-plus inhabitants.
The Watts riots of 1965 lasted six days, beginning on August 12, 1965. The riot in the largely black Watts district of Los Angeles involved up to 10,000 people. Thirty-four people, most of them black, were killed. Nearly 4,000 people were arrested. Whole blocks were burned, with nearly 1,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. Damage was … Read more
President Teddy Roosevelt drew this unflattering nickname “muckraker” for early 20th-century investigative reporters from the 17th-century allegory Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. In this book, a muckraker is a worker too busy gathering dirt and debris to see the celestial crown overhead.
In 1992, 98 percent of U.S. households had a TV set. Sixty-five percent had two or more. Seventy-seven percent had videocassette recorders.
Influenza was responsible for the most deadly epidemic in U.S. history. An epidemic from March to November 1918 killed over 500,000 people nationwide.
The first political party in America was the Federalist Party, founded in 1790 by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. Around the same time, Thomas Jefferson built a rival organization that became known as the Republican or Democratic-Republican Party.
The first presidential mansion was located at One Cherry Street in New York City. It was not called the White House. George Washington lived there from April 23, 1789, to February 23, 1790.
Bill Clinton was born in the small town of Hope, Arkansas, but was raised in the city of Hot Springs from the age of four.
Henry Ford adopted the eight-hour day and five-day week to alleviate a depression in the auto industry in 1926. The move to reduce working hours curbed overproduction and unemployment in the industry.
The average credit card holder in the U.S. owes $2,317 on credit cards, according to the Nilson Report, Santa Monica, California. About 60 percent of American adults own at least one credit card.
General Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War (1846-48) and president from 1849 to 1850 was “Old Rough and Ready”. Taylor got the nickname for his plain habits and blunt demeanor.
The first woman formally nominated for the U.S. presidency was Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917), feminist and lawyer, who was nominated in 1884 and 1888 as the candidate of the National Equal Rights Party. An advocate of equal rights for women and international peace, Lockwood was also the first woman admitted to practice law before the … Read more
D Day is a standard military term referring to the day set for the beginning of an attack. The D stands for “Day” (Day-Day). Similarly, the time for an attack is H-Hour (Hour-Hour). The most famous D Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, took place on June 6, 1944.
Yes, an airplane has indeed crashed into the Empire State Building. On July 28, 1945, a U.S. Army bomber crashed into the New York landmark, killing 13.
Central Park in New York first opened to the public in October 1858.
In the early United States, the “Old Northwest” represented much of what we would now call the Midwest. Organized as the Northwest Territory in 1787, it was the area bounded by the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Britain had acquired it from France in the French and Indian War, … Read more
American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson originated the phrase “the shot heard round the world” in his poem “Concord Hymn” (1836). The poem memorialized the Battle of Lexington and Concord of 1775, the first battle of the War of Independence.
The quote “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it” refers to the bombardment of the city of Ben Tre, South Vietnam, during the Tet Offensive in 1968. The army major who said it was unidentified.
A U-2 was an American high-altitude reconnaissance plane. The plane became infamous when a U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960, sparking an international incident.
The rockets that the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner” refers to were Congreve rockets, invented by Sir Thomas Congreve and used by the British in the War of 1812. The noisy, hissing missiles, 42 inches long, were used throughout the British campaigns in Maryland in 1813-14. The rockets initially terrified the Americans but proved to … Read more
Growing out of a 19th-century social group called the Jolly Cooks, the association, the Elks, now known as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was formed in 1868 from a desire to broaden their pursuits to include patriotism and public service. They chose the name Elk to project a wholly American image and to … Read more
Four state capitals are named after presidents. They are Jackson, Mississippi; Jefferson City, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Madison, Wisconsin.
Albert Goodwill Spalding (1850-1915) co-founded the sporting goods firm “A. G. Spalding and Brothers” in 1876. Born in Byron, Illinois, Spalding pitched for Boston and Chicago and helped to found the National League.
David Wilmot was a congressman from Pennsylvania who in 1846 proposed an amendment to a military appropriations bill that slavery be forbidden in any territory obtained from Mexico during or after the Mexican War (1846-48). The amendment passed in the House but not the Senate.
Yes, there really was a John Deere. In 1839, he invented the steel plow, which, along with Cyrus McCormick’s 1834 invention, the reaper, changed the face of American agriculture.
From left to right, the U.S. presidents are carved on Mount Rushmore are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The first African-American to play in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson had no hits in three at-bats in his first game on April 15, 1947. Playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, Robinson fielded 11 balls in the 5-3 win against the Boston Braves. That season, Robinson maintained a .297 average and was … Read more
The Heisman Trophy has been awarded since 1935 by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City to the country’s top college football player.
In President Franklin Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941, message to Congress, Roosevelt called for a world where these “Four Freedoms” were protected: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
In 1901, John Pierpont Morgan financed the merger that resulted in the formation of U.S. Steel, the first billion-dollar company.
Detroit is French for “the strait.” It refers to the strait formed by the Detroit River between Lake Erie and lake St. Clair. Originally founded as a French fort and trading post in 1701, Detroit was incorporated as a city in 1815.
Arnold Palmer was the first U.S. professional male golfer to win over $1 million during his career, in 1963. No U.S. professional female golfer earned this much money until Kathy Wentworth in 1981.
“What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar” was uttered by Thomas R. Marshall, vice-president under Woodrow Wilson (1913-21), in response to a senator’s long speech about the country’s needs.
There are more than 97 million items are in the collections of the Library of Congress, including books, films, photographs, manuscripts, and records.
The challenger Luis Firpo, known as the “Wild Bull of the Pampas,” was Argentine. Dempsey defeated him in a brutal fight that ended less than a minute into the second round at New York’s Polo Grounds on September 4, 1923. The event is immortalized in the 1924 painting by George Bellows, The Dempsey-Firpo Fight, which … Read more
1876 Centennial Exposition—Philadelphia 1901—Pan-American Exposition—Buffalo, New York 1905—Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition—Portland, Oregon 1926—Sesquicentennial Exposition—Philadelphia 1933-34–Century of Progress International Exposition—Chicago 1935 California Pacific International Exposition—San Di- ego 1939-40—New York World’s Fair—New York City 1939-40—Golden Gate International Exposition—Treasure Island, San Francisco 1962—Century 21 Exposition—Seattle 1964-65—New York World’s Fair—New York City 1974—Expo ’74—Spokane, Washington 1982—World’s Fair—Knoxville, Tennessee … Read more
Dixville Notch, New Hampshire is the first election district to vote and report its returns in presidential elections.
The first president to hold a doctorate was Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the 28th president. He received a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1886. His thesis was entitled “Congressional Government, a Study in American Politics.”
A vial containing the air representing Thomas Alva Edison’s last exhalation is a prime draw at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Originally known as the Edison Institute for Technology in honor of Ford’s inventor friend, the museum also includes a slab of concrete with Edison’s footprints in addition to more general Americana like … Read more
The first atomic-powered submarine, the Nautilus, was launched at Groton, Connecticut, on June 21, 1954.
Benjamin Harrison, Republican, in 1888, was the last president to be elected without winning the largest share of the popular vote. Fewer ballots were cast for him at the polling booth than for Democrat Grover Cleveland. But Harrison carried the day by winning 233 votes in the Electoral College to Cleveland’s 168.
Idaho-born sculptor Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941), with the help of his son, carved the faces on Mount Rushmore from 1927 to 1941. The faces are those of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Washington.
The State of Tennessee, represented by prosecutor William Jennings Bryan, won its 1925 case against John Thomas Scopes in the Scopes trial. John Thomas Scopes was a high-school biology teacher charged with illegally teaching the theory of evolution. Despite the efforts of defense attorney Clarence Darrow, Scopes was convicted and fined $100. However, an appeals … Read more
Thirteen students were shot by Ohio National Guard troops under the command of General Robert H. Canterbury during the antiwar demonstration at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Nine were wounded and four were killed: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder. Of those four, only Krause and Miller had been demonstrating. … Read more
The “The Star-Spangled Banner” has four stanzas, all ending with “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” Congress made it the national anthem in 1931.
The town brought to life in the 19th-century cowboy song “The Streets of Laredo” is located in Texas.
Oliver North served no prison time. The Marine colonel at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal was convicted in 1989 of falsifying and destroying records, accepting an illegal gratuity, and obstructing Congress, but was not given prison time. Instead, he was given a three-year suspended sentence and ordered to perform 1,200 hours of community service. … Read more
More than 36 percent of the nation’s net worth (assets minus debts) was held by the top one percent of households in 1989, up from below 20 percent in 1979, according to a 1992 study. The study shows that the wealthiest few increased their share of the nation’s total wealth as much during the Reagan … Read more
The tallest hills in San Francisco are Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, and Mount Sutro, all more than 900 feet tall. The best known hills, Nob Hill and Telegraph Hill, are smaller, between 300 and 400 feet.
John Sparkman in 1952 and Estes Kefauver in 1956, were Adlai Stevenson’s running mates in the 1952 and 1956 elections. Stevenson lost both times to Dwight Eisenhower and his running mate Richard Nixon.
The American-born dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927), long an advocate of radical politics, went to Moscow in 1921 at the invitation of Anatoly Lunacharsky, Soviet commissar of enlightenment. In Moscow, she founded a school and married poet Sergei Essenin.
Naval officer Stephen Decatur, hero of campaigns against Barbary Coast privateers and the War of 1812 said, “Our country, right or wrong”. Decatur made his famous remark in a toast at a dinner in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1815: “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right. But our … Read more
President John Tyler was known as “His Accidency”, because he moved up from the vice-presidency through the accident of President William Henry Harrison’s death from pneumonia in 1841.
The Spanish-American War was called “that splendid little war” by then U.S. Secretary of State John Hays.
A labor organizer who led the Pullman strike of 1894, Eugene Debs ran for president five times, once in 1900 on the Social Democratic ticket and four times as the Socialist candidate (1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920).
Jefferson Davis wearing women’s clothing when he was captured was the unsubstantiated rumor that spread among Union soldiers after the president of the Confederacy was captured near Irwinville, Georgia, on May 10, 1865. Supposedly Davis had donned his wife’s cloak and shawl to disguise himself from the enemy.
Bellevue, on New York City’s East Side, is the oldest general hospital in North America. Plans for the hospital date back to 1736, although at that time the building was meant to be only a “Publick Workhouse and House of Correction” near City Hall (located on the site of present-day City Hall Park). In 1816, … Read more
George K. Kennan, then a member of the State Department’s policy planning staff, wrote the pseudonymous article in the magazine Foreign Affairs that first outlined the policy of containing Soviet expansion in 1947.
Started in 1936, The Negro Motorist Green Book was a travel guide designed to “give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments, and to make his trips more enjoyable.”
No, Andrew Jackson holds that honor of being the first president born in a log cabin. He was born on March 15, 1767, in a log cabin in Waxhaw, South Carolina. Andrew Jackson was also the first president born in South Carolina and the first born west of the Allegheny Mountains.
Until 1929, the Waldorf-Astoria stood at the southwest corner of Thirty-fourth Street and Fifth Avenue in New York. On October 1 of that year, demolition of the famous hotel began, and on May 1, 1931, the Empire State Building opened on the space. In the same year, the Waldorf reopened at its current address between … Read more
By crossing the Atlantic on May 20-21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh won the $25,000 award offered by a New York hotel owner.
By 1780, the British were fighting not only the United States and its ally France during the American War of Independence, but also Spain, the Netherlands, and the ruler of Mysore in India. The conflicts were not all related to American independence, but they did keep the British busy on many fronts, aiding the U.S. … Read more
The first black person to win the prize, the American statesman and civil rights leader Ralph Bunche earned the honor of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for mediating an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1949.