Oct 27 2010

On This Day in History: October 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

October 27 is the 300th day of the year (301st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 65 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1904, the New York Subway opens.

While London boasts the world’s oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the United States in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. The first line, operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), traveled 9.1 miles through 28 stations. Running from City Hall in lower Manhattan to Grand Central Terminal in midtown, and then heading west along 42nd Street to Times Square, the line finished by zipping north, all the way to 145th Street and Broadway in Harlem. On opening day, Mayor McClellan so enjoyed his stint as engineer that he stayed at the controls all the way from City Hall to 103rd Street.


A demonstration for an underground transit system in New York City was first built by Alfred Ely Beach in 1869. His Beach Pneumatic Transit only extended 312 feet (95 m) under Broadway in Lower Manhattan and exhibited his idea for a subway propelled by pneumatic tube technology. The tunnel was never extended for political and financial reasons, although extensions had been planned to take the tunnel southward to The Battery and northwards towards the Harlem River. The Beach subway was demolished when the BMT Broadway Line was built in the 1910s; thus, it was not integrated into the New York City Subway system.

The first underground line of the subway opened on October 27, 1904, almost 35 years after the opening of the first elevated line in New York City, which became the Ninth Avenue Line. The heavy 1888 snowstorm helped to demonstrate the benefits of an underground transportation system. The oldest structure still in use opened in 1885 as part of the BMT Lexington Avenue Line, and is now part of the BMT Jamaica Line in Brooklyn. The oldest right-of-way, that of the BMT West End Line, was in use in 1863 as a steam railroad called the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Rail Road. The Staten Island Railway, which opened in 1860, currently uses R44 subway cars, but it has no links to the rest of the system and is not usually considered part of the subway proper.

By the time the first subway opened, the lines had been consolidated into two privately owned systems, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT, later Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, BMT) and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). The city was closely involved: all lines built for the IRT and most other lines built or improved for the BRT after 1913 were built by the city and leased to the companies. The first line of the city-owned and operated Independent Subway System (IND) opened in 1932; this system was intended to compete with the private systems and allow some of the elevated railways to be torn down, but was kept within the core of the City due to the low amount of startup capital provided to the municipal Board Of Transportation, the later MTA, by the state.[3] This required it to be run ‘at cost’, necessitating fares up to double the five cent fare popular at the time.

In 1940, the two private systems were bought by the city; some elevated lines closed immediately, and others closed soon after. Integration was slow, but several connections were built between the IND and BMT, and now operate as one division called the B Division. Since the IRT tunnel segments are too small and stations too narrow to accommodate  B Division cars, and contain curves too sharp for B Division cars, the IRT remains its own division, A Division.

The New York City Transit Authority, a public authority presided by New York City, was created in 1953 to take over subway, bus, and streetcar operations from the city, and was placed under control of the state-level Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968.

In 1934, transit workers of the BRT, IRT, and IND founded the Transport Workers Union of America, organized as Local 100. Local 100 remains the largest and most influential local of the labor union. Since the union’s founding, there have been three union strikes. In 1966, transit workers went on strike for 12 days, and again in 1980 for 11 days. On December 20, 2005, transit workers again went on strike over disputes with MTA regarding salary, pensions, retirement age, and health insurance costs. That strike lasted just under three days.

 312 – Constantine the Great is said to have received his famous Vision of the Cross.

710 – Saracen invasion of Sardinia.

939 – Edmund I succeeds Athelstan as King of England.

1275 – Traditional founding of the city of Amsterdam.

1524 – Italian Wars: The French troops lay siege to Pavia.

1553 – Condemned as a heretic, Michael Servetus is burned at the stake just outside Geneva.

1644 – Second Battle of Newbury in the English Civil War.

1682 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is founded.

1795 – The United States and Spain sign the Treaty of Madrid, which establishes the boundaries between Spanish colonies and the U.S.

1806 – The French Army enters Berlin.

1810 – United States annexes the former Spanish colony of West Florida.

1827 – Bellini’s third opera Il pirata is premiered at Teatro alla Scala di Milano

1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Extermination Order, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be exterminated.

1870 – Marshal Francois Achille Bazaine surrenders to Prussian forces at Metz along with 140,000 French soldiers in one of the biggest French defeats of the Franco-Prussian War.

1904 – The first underground New York City Subway line opens; the system becomes the biggest in United States, and one of the biggest in world.

1914 – World War I: The British super-dreadnought battleship HMS Audacious (23,400 tons), is sunk off Tory Island, north-west of Ireland, by a minefield laid by the armed German merchant-cruiser Berlin.

1916 – Battle of Segale: Negus Mikael, marching on the Ethiopian capital in support of his son Emperor Iyasus V, is defeated by Fitawrari abte Giyorgis, securing the throne for Empress Zauditu.

1922 – A referendum in Rhodesia rejects the country’s annexation to the South African Union.

1924 – The Uzbek SSR is founded in the Soviet Union.

1936 – Mrs Wallis Simpson files for divorce which would eventually allow her to marry King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, thus forcing his abdication from the throne.

1944 – World War II: German forces capture Banska Bystrica during Slovak National Uprising thus bringing it to an end.

1948 – Leopold Sedar Senghor founds the Senegalese Democratic Bloc.

1953 – British nuclear test Totem 2 is carried out at Emu Field, South Australia.

1954 – Benjamin O. Davis Jr. becomes the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.

1958 – Iskander Mirza, the first President of Pakistan, is deposed in a bloodless coup d’etat by General Ayub Khan, who had been appointed the enforcer of martial law by Mirza 20 days earlier.

1961 – NASA launches the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.

1961 – Mauritania and Mongolia join the United Nations.

1962 – Major Rudolf Anderson of the United States Air Force becomes the only direct human casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis when his U-2 reconnaissance airplane is shot down in Cuba by a Soviet-supplied SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile.

1962 – A plane carrying Enrico Mattei, post-war Italian administrator, crashes in mysterious circumstances.

1964 – Ronald Reagan delivers a speech on behalf of Republican candidate for president, Barry Goldwater. The speech launched his political career and came to be known as “A Time for Choosing”.

1967 Catholic priest Philip Berrigan and others of the Baltimore Four protest the Vietnam War by pouring blood on Selective Service records.

1971 – The Democratic Republic of the Congo is renamed Zaire.

1973 – The Canon City meteorite, a 1.4 kg chondrite type meteorite, strikes in Fremont County, Colorado.

1981 – The Soviet submarine U 137 runs aground on the east coast of Sweden.

1986 – The British government suddenly deregulates financial markets, leading to a total restructuring of the way in which they operate in the country, in an event now referred to as the Big Bang.

1988 – Ronald Reagan decides to tear down the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow because of Soviet listening devices in the building structure.

1991 – Turkmenistan achieves independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 – United States Navy radioman Allen R. Schindler, Jr. is brutally murdered by shipmate Terry M. Helvey for being gay, precipitating first military, then national, debate about gays in the military that resulted in the United States “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.

1994 – The U.S. prison population tops 1 million for the first time in American history.

1994 – Gliese 229B is the first Substellar Mass Object to be unquestionably identified.

1995 – Latvia applies for membership in the European Union.

1995 – Former Prime Minister of Italy Bettino Craxi is convicted in absentia of corruption.

1997 – October 27, 1997 mini-crash: Stock markets around the world crash because of fears of a global economic meltdown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummets 554.26 points to 7,161.15. For the first time, the New York Stock Exchange activates its “circuit breakers” twice during the day eventually making the controversial move of closing the Exchange early.

1999 – Gunmen open fire in the Armenian Parliament, killing Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, Parliament Chairman Karen Demirchyan, and 6 other members.

2004 – The Boston Red Sox win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

2005 – Riots begin in Paris after the deaths of two Muslim teenagers.


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  1. TMC

    Dalai Lama:

    Living a truly ethical life, putting the needs of others first and providing for their happiness, has tremendous implications for society.

  2. Eddie C

    Have you ever come across The Daily Bleed as a reference tool? Very interesting and way left of the left. Just look at today’s.

    Another interesting tool is Democracy Now. Just change the date in that link to a year ago and find out was what really going on a year ago.

    Harry Reid: Senate Bill Will Include Public Option Plan

    Or Two years ago.

    GOP Email Warns Obama Victory Could Lead to Second Holocaust

    Sometimes Goatview Farms has a topic of the day this is worth posting.

    Today In Science History is always fun.

    But my number one favorite for a snarky take on the events of the day was always The Daily Rotten. You need to use the way back machine and find a previous year because daily rotten post too late to use but some are just to good to pass up.

    And for quick hits where they rarely miss a trick, there’s this.  

  3. TMC

    I’ve been looking for a way to vary this,so it isn’t so “dry”. I try to look for the unusual or not well known events. I leke when I find one about music.

  4. Eddie C

    Back when I did it Billboard had an “On this day” page that was great but they seemed to have killed it.

    This site Those Were The Days copied and pasted some of the music history that was on Billboard.  

  5. Eddie C

    I’m sure you already use The Library of Congress: American Memory Today. Best read of all and out tax dollars being put to a very good use.

    For starters the New York Times for kids page was always my kickoff. I always loved the links to the news piece that was actually written on that day for the featured story.

    For the first time in his life Father Knickerbocker went underground yesterday, went underground, he and his children, to the number of 150,000, amid the tooting of whistles and the firing of salutes, for a first ride in a subway which for years had been scoffed at as an impossibility. New York’s dream of rapid transit became a reality at exactly 2.35:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon, when the running of trains with passengers began.

    With a silver controller Mayor McClellan started the first train, the official train, which bore John B. McDonald, the contractor who dug the subway; William Barclay Parsons, Chief Engineer of the Rapid Transit Commission, and most of the other men who made the Subway a possibility and a reality.

    The Mayor liked his job as motorman so well that he stayed at the controller until the train reached Broadway and One Hundred and Third Street, when he yielded the place to the company’s motor instructor.

    I was also fond of BBC On This Day where every story leads to original text.

    October 27, 1968: Police clash with anti-war protesters

    Trouble has flared in Grosvenor Square, London, after an estimated 6,000 marchers faced up to police outside the United States Embassy.

    The protesters had broken away from another, bigger, march against US involvement in Vietnam but were confronted by a wall of police.

    The breakaway group, led by the Maoist Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front was almost thwarted by the march organisers who were aware of the plan and feared violence would erupt.

    Once in Grovesnor Square the protesters formed a human chain and charged at the police wall but failed to break through and, after three hours of stalemate, they all dispersed.

    NY1 should not be overlooked. They come up with stuff found nowhere else. And for Boob Tube stuff The History Channel is fun with a link at the end of the video to inspiration for tomorrow.

    Oh I just found another of my old links to music history. The root sight is On This day but click the music link and you get a calendar of music notes.  

  6. TMC

    This is great because there are times when I hit a wall trying to come up with something interesting, educational and relevant.

    Tomorrow is the day the Volstead Act was passed in 1919 over Pres. Wilson’s veto. It gave “teeth” to enforcing Prohibition. Since HBO is doing “Boardwalk Empire”, I may do it as a stand alone diary.

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