A selection of photos from the second day in Estoril (15 April) have been put online and can be seen here. Enjoy.
On this day 130 years ago, former Gasville or Granville, a town living by the lumber trade, was incorporated as the City of Vancouver (named after the early regional explorer George Vancouver). From now on it could form its own municipal government, pass by-laws, raise taxes, etc. – it had become a city in its own right. A relatively small settlement of about 1,000 inhabitants then, the new municipality registered a celebration of sorts:
The ceremony was delayed when it was discovered no one had thought to bring paper on which to write down the details. Someone had to run down the street to the stationery store! The ceremony was held in Jonathan Miller’s house.
On 3 May, the first municipal election was held, counting 499 votes. The City Council met first on 12 May, when they voted for a petition to lease a former military reserve from the federal government in order to convert it into a city park – today’s Stanley Park. On the whole, the municipal city had had a good start – only to be consumed almost entirely and within less than an hour by a ferocious fire on 13 of June! With the help of impromptu tents (even one for Council meetings) people returned to relative normality in no time.
What looked at first like a total disaster, soon turned out to be beneficial in more than one way: Vancouver’s Fire Department, with a professional fire engine of its own, was established in the same year, proof of a lesson learnt the hard way. The city was rebuilt from scratch, this time already with a modern water system, electricity and provisions for streetcars. The first transcontinental passenger train of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) concluded its maiden journey that year at nearby Port Moody. Within a year, a branch line was laid to Vancouver, which became the main terminal. The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 helped the city prosper, and when the Panama Canal opened in 1914, Vancouver’s large seaport was a welcome stop for ships voyaging to Europe on an alternative route.
Today the City of Vancouver is the eighth largest Canadian municipality, and Greater Vancouver the third most populous metropolitan area of Canada (2.4 million inhabitants). Its seaport is the busiest and largest in Canada. Surrounded by forests and greenland, the city has maintained a strong forestry industry, while likewise attracting tourists worldwide by its natural beauty. In fact, Vancouver is said to belong to the top five cities worldwide famous for livability and quality of life.
The event took place – or will take place, depending on how you look at it – on April 5, 2063. That evening, a Vulcan survey ship, the T’Plana-Hath, landed in Bozeman, Montana, after tracking the warp signature of the Phoenix, a spacecraft that represented mankind’s first successful attempt at achieving warp drive.
And, of course, moments later on that same day, a robed Vulcan, flashing the split-fingered Vulcan salute, greeted Dr. Zefram Cochrane, creator of warp drive and pilot of the Phoenix. Thus, First Contact was made, setting in motion a chain of events that led to the formation of the United Federation of Planets. (Star Trek)
You may enjoy looking at the following sites:
- Memory Alpha
- Excerpts from The Star Trek Encyclopedia
- Star Trek Movies Screencaps
- Fundraising news about the day
- How to celebrate the day
- About the Sci-Fi London Festival
And now, puzzle this out:
Source: Star Trek
On this day in 1860, the first Pony Express mail, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously leaves St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, on April 13, the westbound rider and mail packet completed the approximately 1,800-mile journey and arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound packet’s arrival in St. Joseph by two days and setting a new standard for speedy mail delivery.
Although ultimately short-lived and unprofitable, the Pony Express captivated America’s imagination and helped win federal aid for a more economical overland postal system. It also contributed to the economy of the towns on its route and served the mail-service needs of the American West in the days before the telegraph or an efficient transcontinental railroad. (History)
The Pony Express was founded by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors. Plans for the Pony Express were spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. Read more at the Pony Express National Museum and at the National Park Service.
An account of the first ride is also available at the National Park Service.
The Smithsonian National Postal Museum currently features the exhibition Pony Express: Romance vs. Reality.
The 2012-film Spirit of the Pony Express tells the story of the “short-lived but far-reaching American Institution The Pony Express by following a historical re-enactment along the original trail from Sacramento California to Saint Joseph Missouri”.
Buffalo Bill Cody is perhaps the most well-known rider of the Pony Express. He would later become famous for his Wild West Show. An exhibition dedicated to him is available at the Pony Express National Museum.
Additionally, you may also be interested in the following articles:
- On the trail of the Pony Express
- The Pony Express: History and Myth
- The Pony Express: Riders of Destiny
- The Pony Express: The Fastest Delivery of a Message across America
- Riders set to retrace Pony Express route
- Heroes of the Pony Express
On this day 54 years ago, Transport Minister Ernest Marples unveiled the very first Panda Crossing on York Road, just outside Waterloo Station in London. He and the Mayor of Lambeth were the first to cross it, with the Mayor carrying a cuddly toy panda. From the very beginning it was poorly received. It ticked every box on the government’s wish list, but the problem was that it was absurdly complicated to use, with convoluted sequences of flashing and pulsating lights, some steady and some getting faster. Read more at Chris’s British Road Directory, and BBC’s article of that day entitled New pedestrian crossings cause chaos.
Roughly a year before, in June 1961, BBC had reported that Panda would replace Zebra at road crossing in April the following year.
You may also be interested in this article marking the 50th anniversary of the short lived Panda Crossing experiment which would disappear just five years later.
Additionally, you may find the following articles interesting:
- Puffins, Pelicans, and Toucans: The Delightful Names of British Crosswalks
- Zebras, Puffins, Pelicans or Hawks for Pedestrians?
- Pedestrian Crossing Signs Throughout History
According to Encyclopædia Britannica Blog, other animal-themed crossings on British streets include:
Zebra crossing: a crossing with black and white stripes stretching across the width of the road.
Pelican crossing: a crossing that involves button-operated traffic lights to direct pedestrians and cars alike (little green man appears on the opposite side of the road).
Puffin crossing: button-operated lights and curb-side sensors for pedestrians (little green man appears in the box on the near side of the road).
Toucan crossing: a crossing that lets bicycles cross the road as well as pedestrians (two-can cross).
Pegasus crossing: a crossing specially designed for horse riders. A separate button is placed two-metres above the ground for mounted riders and has a little green horse and rider instead (named after the mythical winged horse).
Tiger crossing: a yellow and black striped crossing that allowed pedestrians and cyclists to cross. A few were tried in the UK but replaced with toucan crossings.
It’s the most lighthearted day of the year – and the only one when you are officially allowed to tell a lie and deceive – for the sake of a joke! So be on your guard!
When did it all began? Well, according to Boston University’s Professor Emeritus of History, Joseph Boskin, it all began with the Roman Emperor Constantine, who was told one day by his court jesters that they could run the country so much better than the Emperor if only they were given a chance. Constantine decided to grant one of them a single day as Emperor. When asked his one-day title, the jester appointed to the office chose “King Kugel”- and his first and lasting contribution to humanity was to declare this day – April 1 by the modern calendar – the day of absurdities. Or so the tale goes – and what an April Fools tale it was!!! Here more about this academic joke.
The origin of this day is, in fact, unknown, yet several explanations have been offered, each plausible enough though not 100% satisfactory as all fall short of explaining the fact that a number of countries have long been celebrating this fools’ day with no apparent link to one another.
One such explanation harks back to the 16th century: In 1564, France reformed its calendar (correcting a noticeable seasonal dissynchronisation by royal decree even before Pope Gregory’s reform was announced in 1582-see 29 February), moving the end of March (then considered the beginning of the New Year) to January 1. Although the population is said to have been informed about it, quite a number of people did not know about or refused to accept as new year’s beginning “January 1”, to them it continued to be “April 1” – they were the first to be called ‘April fools’ and often had a fish attached to their back in consequence (in France April fools are called poissons d’avril).
Another explanation refers to the long Judeo-Christian tradition of “holy fools”, mentioned variably in the holy books, sometimes implying the Christian martyr, or referring to sayings that only ‘children and fools’ can enter heaven without difficulty, or that the wordly wise have to renounce their wisdom (becoming ‘fools’) to become truly wise. ‘Fools’ or ‘pranksters’ were therefore frequent apparitions at Christian festivals in the Middle Ages.
The heathen tradition of celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring – so-called “renewal festivals” triggered by the equinox when Nature, incidentally, also fools people with unpredictable weather – are likewise mentioned in this connection. It was typical of these rituals that disguised community members created mayhem and confusion, often in open challenge of the traditional order.
Doubtlessly, a day or days for fools as these and similar ones, frequently relating to gods – as the Roman festival Hilaria or the Indian Holi – seem to satisfy a social need of change and renewal, originally tethered to Nature’s cycle of death and rebirth.
The earliest report in England of a practical joke played on the public is from 2 April, 1698, according to which a number of people had been invited to the Tower of London the previous day to attend a ritual washing of the Lions. It became a popular prank repeated up to the late 19th century. By then 1 April pranks had become a common occurrence in countries like Ireland, German-speaking countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Italy, and the Nordic countries.
Individual practical jokes may range from sending a person on a ‘fool’s errand’, setting off stink bombs, placing a whoopee cushion on a chair in order to embarrass the person sitting down on it by the farthing sound thus released, to presenting a ‘gift box’ out of which pops some form of a jack-in-the box, surreptiously gluing comic signs on someone’s back or mixing colour in someone’s shampoo. With the growth of the media were added the media pranks – plausible bits of news that sooner or later prove to be hoaxes. One of the most successful in this line was a BBC resport, on 1 April 1957, on the spaghetti tree season:
On this day 136 years ago, the city of Wabash made history by becoming the “First Electrically Lighted City in the World”, and journalists could not come up with enough awestruck prose to describe that technological first occurring on the evening of March 31, 1880 in the north-central Indiana city of Wabash:
The people stood almost breathless, overwhelmed with awe, as if in the presence of the supernatural…The strange, weird light, exceeded in power only by the sun, rendered the square as light as midday. Men fell on their knees, groans were uttered at the sight and many were dumb with amazement….It drove the darkness back and out of the entire city of Wabash so that now the people could see to read on nearly all of the city’s streets by night.
Charles F. Brush developed the first commercially successful arc light systems in North America in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1879. By 1880 authorities in Wabash, Indiana, realised that the Brush electric arc light system for its streets would cost $800 less per year than gas lighting. They also noted that they would get greater volume of illumination. This was the beginning of the revolution across the world to switch to the electric light. By proving to be economically better than oil and gas the future was set. More information is available at Edison Tech Center.
The following appeared in the Scientific American of April 2, 1881: The town of Wabash, Indiana was the first in the world to light its wholly in this way (lamps placed upon towers at a considerable elevation above the ground and above adjoining buildings), and they find that our Brush lights, of 3,000 candle power each, placed on a iron flag staff on the dome of their courthouse, at a height of about 130 feet above the ground, are sufficient for the general illumination of an area from one-half to three-fourths of a mile in every direction. (Internet Archive)
You may also be interested in the following article: Dream Cities: The Uncanny Powers of Electric Light.
The first ever London Marathon as we know it today took place in 1981 and was inspired by former British Olympic champion Chris Brasher who competed in the New York City Marathon in 1979 and afterwards wrote an article for The Observer where he asked “whether London could stage such a festival? We have the course, a magnificent course … but do we have the heart and hospitality to welcome the world?”
Chris then met with the relevant authorities and two years later, on 29 March 1981, the annual London Marathon was born with thousands of people running through the usually quiet Sunday streets.
From the 20,000 people who wanted to run, 7,747 were accepted and 6,255 finished. It was a huge success, and the following year over 90,000 applied to run (there were 18,000 places).
BBC’s article of 29 March 1981, entitled Triumph at first London Marathon, reported on the event.
A photo gallery of the first-ever London Marathon is available here.
History will be made at this year’s London Marathon, on 24 April, as one runner will cross the world-famous finish line in The Mall to become the millionth finisher in the history of the event. To mark this huge milestone, the organisers have created the #oneinamillion campaign, which celebrates every runner who has ever successfully completed the 26.2 mile challenge since the first race back in 1981. Read more at Virgin Media.
The first half of the route runs just south of the Thames through Greenwich and Blackheath. After crossing the river on Tower Bridge, runners pass some of the capital’s famous landmarks, including the Coca Cola London Eye and the Tower of London, before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. With such vast and impressive scenery, it’s no wonder the organisers have dubbed it a “historical jog around London”.(Visit London)
You may also find the following articles interesting:
- London Marathon: 26 facts and records from the capital’s big race
- 10 things no one tells you before you run the London Marathon
On this day 37 years ago the most serious accident in the history of American nuclear power happened. Three Mile Island, a power station situated in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had partially been in operation since 1974. It actually comprised two stations, the second of which (TMI-2) had caused problems since the beginning and only began operating in 1978. At 4 a.m. an
automatically operating valve in this Unit falsely closed down, shutting off the water supply to the main system transferring heat from the water that actually circulated in the reactor core. A sequence of reactions followed: the reactor core shut down automatically, instruments began to malfunction providing confusing data, wrong decisions led to the closing of the emergency water supply, and the reactor core began to heat up dangerously. A melt-down, which would have released and spread deadly radiation, was just about prevented, and very little of the radioactive gases building and spreading inside the plant is said to have escaped into the open. Read further details here. Commemorating the event 25 years later, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History built a documentary site with a detailed outline of before-during-after the accident.
Initially, the authorities tried to play down the incident, but many residents in the area decided to leave. More here. As it later turned out, apart from psychological stress, those in the immediate vicinity did not suffer from health problems that could be directly linked to the accident.
Although the situation was soon under control, its effect was far-reaching:
- security and safety became a greater priority for power plants, involving improvements in the quality of construction, maintenance and control;
- posterior study of the accident led to a better understanding of the melt-down process (China Syndrome);
- the public became much more sceptical and less trusty when it came to questions of nuclear power, which in turn led to a drastic decline of its public support. More here.
You can also watch a documentary about the incident:
Somewhat ironically, the accident occured twelve days after the release of the film China Syndrome (with Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas) which anticipated a similar crisis, though with a worse scenario. Combined, film and accident did much to intensify anti-nuclear campaigns.
The blooming of the cherry trees in Washington, D.C. has become a symbol of the natural beauty of America’s capital city. The famous trees herald Washington’s rite of spring with a vivid explosion of life and colour that blankets the city’s in a sea of fragrant pale pink and white blossoms.
The first cherry trees were presented as a gift of friendship from the Japanese people to the people of the United States in the early twentieth century.
On March 27, 1912, Helen Taft, the American First Lady, and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin.
Since First Lady Taft’s involvement, all American first ladies have been proponents of National Cherry Blossom Festival. Historically, many were involved in events through the National Conference of State Societies’ Princess Program.
Washington’s renowned Festival grew from a simple ceremony to a three-week event, becoming the nation’s greatest springtime celebration and drawing hundreds of people from around the world.
Cherry blossom blooming peaks anywhere from mid-March to mid-April. You can check out the BloomWatch page to find out when the Cherry Trees are expected to bloom in and how this compares to prior years here.
There are approximately 3,800 cherry trees within the park. See this list for information about the different varieties and their location.
See a video of D.C. cherry blossoms in full bloom, made available by USA Today:
You may also find the following articles interesting:
- How Cherry Blossoms Came into Budding US Popularity
- The Colourful History of Washington’s Cherry Blossoms
- Japanese Cherry Blossoms Almost Didn’t Make It to DC