[The Washington National Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece
which glorifies the combination of church and state.]
1717 - An earthquake struck Antigua Guatemala, destroying more than 3000 of that city's Spanish Mudéjar-influenced colonial buildings and causing authorities to consider moving the capital to a different city; a further series of earthquakes in 1773 finally brought about the move - to the Valley of the Shrine, where it remains to this day with the far less poetic name of Guatemala City.
1829 - London's Metropolitan Police Service was launched by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel; once known as 'Peelers', police in the English capital are still called 'bobbies' in his honour. At the time of its foundation 'The Met' was the third professional police force in the world, following those in Glasgow and Paris.
1833 - Upon the death of Spain's King Ferdinand VII his wife Maria Christina became queen-regent on behalf of her daughter, who would ascend the throne as Isabella II.
1864 - The Battle of Chaffin's Farm was fought, giving Union general Benjamin F. Butler a victory over the Confederacy's Robert E. Lee and Richard S. Ewell during the American Civil War.
1885 - The first practical public electric tramway in the world was opened in the British seaside resort of Blackpool.
1907 - The cornerstone of the Washington National Cathedral was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt; the Cathedral had been granted its Charter by an act of Congress in January 1893, and work on the edifice would finally be finished 83 years later to the day.
1916 - John D. Rockefeller became the first billionaire.
1954 - Willie Mays of what was then New York Giants made a famous play known as The Catch at The Polo Grounds during Game 1 of that year's World Series, which pitted the Giants against the Cleveland Indians.
1960 - While visiting the United States, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev disrupted a session of the United Nations General Assembly - including a speech by British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, twice - with a series of temperamental outbursts, including a famous one (which may, in fact, be apocryphal) in which he allegedly banged on his desk with a shoe.
1962 - When Canada's first satellite, Alouette 1, was launched from California's Vandenberg AFB, Canada became only the third country in history to launch such a device; its primary use was scientific - it was designed to study the ionosphere - and it was switched off after a decade. Alouette 1 remains in orbit and may, in theory, still work.
1964 - The Spanish-language comic strip Mafalda was first published, in the weekly publication Primera Plana; the brainchild of Argentinian cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado - who's better known as Quino - the little girl with a passion for peace has been entertaining the Latin world ever since, even though her initial run ended in June 1973. Often compared to Charles Schulz's Peanuts (most notably by Umberto Eco in 1968) for its psychological insight into the souls of children, in Mafalda's world adults play a greater role, and the character herself is both more political and rooted in socio-politics as well. Although books of Mafalda strips are widely available in their original language, sadly they are relatively rare in English - providing me with yet another excellent reason to learn Spanish.
1979 - John Paul II became the first Pope to visit Ireland.
1982 - The Tylenol Crisis began when the first of seven individuals died in Chicago; the culprit has never been caught...
1988 - NASA launched STS-26, its first mission after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of January 1986.
1990 - Work was completed on the Washington National Cathedral when the last finial was installed in the presence of President George H. W. Bush, 83 years to the day after the cornerstone was laid.
2004 - Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne performed its first space flight; days later he (and it) would go on to win the lucrative Ansari X Prize; on the same day the asteroid 4179 Toutatis passed within four lunar distances of Earth - although few if any scientists consider the asteroid a warning to the arrogant humans seeking ever easier ways to evade their own planet's gravity.
2006 - US Representative Mark Foley resigned after
2007 - Britain's Calder Hall - the world's first commercial nuclear power station, itself part of the vast complex at Sellafield, which came on line in August 1956 and was officially opened by The Queen in October of that year - was demolished in a controlled explosion. At the time of its closing in March 2003 the main reactor had been in continuous operation for nearly 47 years.
2008 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered a 777.68 point drop, the largest in its history. So far...
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