This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
October 4 is the 277th day of the year (278th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 88 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1883, the Orient Express commences its first run.
The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train, the route for which has changed considerably in modern times. The first run of The Orient Express was on 4 October 1883. The train travelled from Paris to Giurgiu in Romania, via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Ruse in Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna. From here they completed their journey to Istanbul by ferry.
The Orient Express was the name of a long-distance passenger train originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Its route has changed many times, and several routes have in the past concurrently used the name, or slight variants thereof. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name has become synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most intimately associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints of the service.
The original route, which first ran on October 4, 1883, was from Paris, Gare de l’Est, to Giurgiu in Romania via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Rousse in Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna, from where they completed their journey to Istanbul (then called Constantinople) by ferry. In 1885, another route began operations, this time reaching Istanbul via rail from Vienna to Belgrade and Nis, carriage to Plovdiv and rail again to Istanbul.
In 1889, the train’s eastern terminus became Varna in Bulgaria, where passengers could take a ship to Istanbul. On June 1, 1889, the first non-stop train to Istanbul left Paris (Gare de l’Est). Istanbul remained its easternmost stop until May 19, 1977. The eastern terminus was the Sirkeci Terminal by the Golden Horn. Ferry service from piers next to the terminal would take passengers across the Bosporus Strait to Haydarpasa Terminal, the terminus of the Asian lines of the Ottoman railways.
The onset of World War I in 1914 saw Orient Express services suspended. They resumed at the end of hostilities in 1918, and in 1919 the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed the introduction of a more southerly route via Milan, Venice and Trieste. The service on this route was known as the Simplon Orient Express, and it ran in addition to continuing services on the old route. The Treaty of Saint-Germain contained a clause requiring Austria to accept this train: formerly, Austria allowed international services to pass through Austrian territory (which included Trieste at the time) only if they ran via Vienna. The Simplon Orient Express soon became the most important rail route between Paris and Istanbul.
The 1930s saw the zenith of Orient Express services, with three parallel services running: the Orient Express, the Simplon Orient Express, and also the Arlberg Orient Express, which ran via Zürich and Innsbruck to Budapest, with sleeper cars running onwards from there to Bucharest and Athens. During this time, the Orient Express acquired its reputation for comfort and luxury, carrying sleeping-cars with permanent service and restaurant cars known for the quality of their cuisine. Royalty, nobles, diplomats, business people and the bourgeoisie in general patronized it. Each of the Orient Express services also incorporated sleeping cars which had run from Calais to Paris, thus extending the service right from one edge of continental Europe to the other.
The start of the Second World War in 1939 again interrupted the service, which did not resume until 1945. During the war, the German Mitropa company had run some services on the route through the Balkans, but partisans frequently sabotaged the track, forcing a stop to this service.
Following the end of the war, normal services resumed except on the Athens leg, where the closure of the border between Yugoslavia and Greece prevented services from running. That border re-opened in 1951, but the closure of the Bulgaria-Turkey border from 1951 to 1952 prevented services running to Istanbul during that time. As the Iron Curtain fell across Europe, the service continued to run, but the Communist nations increasingly replaced the Wagon-Lits cars with carriages run by their own railway services.
By 1962, the Orient Express and Arlberg Orient Express had stopped running, leaving only the Simplon Orient Express. This was replaced in 1962 by a slower service called the Direct Orient Express, which ran daily cars from Paris to Belgrade, and twice weekly services from Paris to Istanbul and Athens.
In 1971, the Wagon-Lits company stopped running carriages itself and making revenues from a ticket supplement. Instead, it sold or leased all its carriages to the various national railway companies, but continued to provide staff for the carriages. 1976 saw the withdrawal of the Paris-Athens direct service, and in 1977, the Direct Orient Express was withdrawn completely, with the last Paris-Istanbul service running on May 19 of that year.
The withdrawal of the Direct Orient Express was thought by many to signal the end of Orient Express as a whole, but in fact a service under this name continued to run from Paris to Budapest and Bucharest as before (via Strasbourg, Munich, and Budapest). This continued until 2001, when the service was cut back to just Paris-Vienna, the coaches for which were attached to the Paris-Strasbourg express. This service continued daily, listed in the timetables under the name Orient Express, until June 8, 2007. However, with the opening of the Paris-Strasbourg high speed rail line on June 10, 2007, the Orient Express service was further cut back to Strasbourg-Vienna, departing nightly at 22:20 from Strasbourg, and still bearing the name.
610 – Heraclius arrives by ship from Africa at Constantinople, overthrows Byzantine Emperor Phocas and becomes Emperor.
663 – The battle of Baekgang begins. (Traditional Chinese date: August 28, 663).
1209 – Otto IV is crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Innocent III.
1227 – Assassination of Caliph al-Adil.
1363 – End of the Battle of Lake Poyang; the Chinese rebel forces of Zhu Yuanzhang defeat that of his rival, Chen Youliang, in one of the largest naval battles in history.
1511 – Formation of the Holy League of Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Papal States and the Republic of Venice against France.
1537 – The first complete English-language Bible (the Matthew Bible) is printed, with translations by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale.
1582 – Pope Gregory XIII implements the Gregorian Calendar. In Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, October 4 of this year is followed directly by October 15.
1636 – The Swedish Army defeats the armies of Saxony and the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Wittstock.
1693 – Battle of Marsaglia: Piedmontese troops are defeated by the French.
1725 – Foundation of Rosario in Argentina.
1777 – Battle of Germantown: Troops under George Washington are repelled by British troops under Sir William Howe.
1779 – The Fort Wilson Riot takes place.
1795 – Napoleon Bonaparte first rises to national prominence with a “Whiff of Grapeshot”, using cannon to suppress armed counter-revolutionary rioters threatening the French Legislature (National Convention).
1824 – Mexico adopts a new constitution and becomes a federal republic.
1830 – Creation of the state of Belgium after separation from The Netherlands.
1853 – Crimean War: The Ottoman Empire declares war on Russia.
1876 – Texas A&M University opens as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, becoming the first public institution of higher education in Texas.
1883 – First run of the Orient Express.
1883 – First meeting of the Boys’ Brigade in Glasgow, Scotland.
1895 – The first U.S. Open Men’s Golf Championship administered by the United States Golf Association is played at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island.
1910 – Declaration of the Portuguese Republic. King Manuel II flees to the United Kingdom.
1910 – Adoption of the Flag of Bermuda.
1918 – An explosion kills more than 100 and destroys the T.A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville, New Jersey. Fires and explosions continue for three days forcing massive evacuations and spreading ordnance over a wide area, pieces of which were still being found in 2007.
1921 – Riccardo Zanella becomes first elected president of Free State of Fiume.
1927 – Gutzon Borglum begins sculpting Mount Rushmore.
1940 – Meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini at the Brenner Pass.
1941 – Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis character debuts on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
1943 – World War II: U.S. captures Solomon Islands.
1957 – Space Race: Launch of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.
1957 – Avro Arrow roll-out ceremony at Avro Canada plant in Malton, Ontario.
1958 – Fifth Republic of France is established.
1960 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 375, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashes after a bird strike on takeoff from Boston’s Logan International Airport, killing 62 of 72 on board.
1965 – Becoming the first Pope to ever visit the United States of America and the Western hemisphere, Pope Paul VI arrives in New York.
1966 – Basutoland becomes independent from the United Kingdom and is renamed Lesotho.
1967 – Omar Ali Saifuddin III of Brunei abdicates in favour of his son, His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
1976 – Official launch of the Intercity 125 High Speed Train (HST).
1983 – Richard Noble sets a new land speed record of 633.468 mph (1,019 km/h), driving Thrust 2 at the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
1985 – Free Software Foundation is founded in Massachusetts, United States.
1988 – U.S. televangelist Jim Bakker is indicted for fraud.
1991 – The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty is opened for signature.
1992 – The Rome General Peace Accords ends a 16 year civil war in Mozambique.
1992 – El Al Flight 1862: an El Al Boeing 747-258F crashes into two apartment buildings in Amsterdam, killing 43 including 39 on the ground.
1993 – Russian Constitutional Crisis: In Moscow, tanks bombard the White House, a government building that housed the Russian parliament, while demonstrators against President Boris Yeltsin rally outside.
1997 – The second largest cash robbery in U.S. history occurs at the Charlotte, North Carolina office of Loomis, Fargo and Company. An FBI investigation eventually results in 24 convictions and the recovery of approximately 95% of the $17.3 million in cash which had been taken.
2001 – NATO confirms invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
2001 – Siberia Airlines Flight 1812: a Sibir Airlines Tupolev TU-154 crashes into the Black Sea after being struck by an errant Ukrainian S-200 missile. 78 people are killed.
2004 – SpaceShipOne wins Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight, by being the first private craft to fly into space.