This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
January 5 is the fifth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 360 days remaining until the end of the year (361 in leap years).
On this day in 1933, construction starts on what will become one of America’s most famous landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge. When completed in 1937, the Golden Gate has a 4,200-foot-long suspension span, making it the world’s longest suspension bridge. Since opening to the public in May 1937, almost 2 billion vehicles have crossed the bridge, in both the north- and southbound directions.
The bridge was named not for its distinctive orange color (which provides extra visibility to passing ships in San Francisco’s famous fog), but for the Golden Gate Strait, where the San Francisco Bay opens into the Pacific Ocean. The bridge spans the strait and connects the northern part of the city of San Francisco to Marin County, California.
Before the bridge was built, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. Ferry service began as early as 1820, with regularly scheduled service beginning in the 1840s for purposes of transporting water to San Francisco. The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company service, launched in 1867, eventually became the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, the largest ferry operation in the world by the late 1920s. Once for railroad passengers and customers only, Southern Pacific’s automobile ferries became very profitable and important to the regional economy. The ferry crossing between the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco and Sausalito in Marin County took approximately 20 minutes and cost US$1.00 per vehicle, a price later reduced to compete with the new bridge. The trip from the San Francisco Ferry Building took 27 minutes.
Many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County. San Francisco was the largest American city still served primarily by ferry boats. Because it did not have a permanent link with communities around the bay, the city’s growth rate was below the national average. Many experts said that a bridge couldn’t be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait. It had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 500 ft (150 m) in depth at the center of the channel, and frequent strong winds. Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation.
1066 – Edward the Confessor dies childless, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman Conquest of England.
1355 – Charles I of Bohemia was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in Milan.
1477 – Battle of Nancy: Charles the Bold is killed and Burgundy becomes part of France.
1500 – Duke Ludovico Sforza conquers Milan.
1527 – Felix Manz, a leader of the Anabaptist congregation in Zürich, is executed by drowning.
1554 – A great fire occurs in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
1675 – Battle of Colmar: the French army beats Brandenburg.
1757 – Louis XV of France survives an assassination attempt by Robert-Francois Damiens, the last person to be executed in France by drawing and quartering, the traditional and gruesome form of capital punishment used for regicides.
1759 – George Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis.
1781 – American Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold.
1782 – American Revolutionary War: French troops begin a siege of a British garrison on Brimstone Hill in Saint Kitts.
1846 – The United States House of Representatives votes to stop sharing the Oregon Territory with the United Kingdom.
1895 – Dreyfus Affair: French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.
1896 – An Austrian newspaper reports that Wilhelm Roentgen has discovered a type of radiation later known as X-rays.
1900 – Irish leader John Edward Redmond calls for a revolt against British rule.
1909 – Colombia recognizes the independence of Panama.
1913 – First Balkan War: During the Naval Battle of Lemnos, Greek admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis forces the Turkish fleet to retreat to its base within the Dardanelles, from which it did not venture for the rest of the war.
1914 – The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage of $5 for a day’s labor.
1918 – The Free Committee for a German Workers Peace, which would become the Nazi party, is founded.
1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming becomes the first female governor in the United States.
1933 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay.
1940 – FM radio is demonstrated to the Federal Communications Commission for the first time.
1944 – The Daily Mail becomes the first transoceanic newspaper.
1945 – The Soviet Union recognizes the new pro-Soviet government of Poland.
1957 – In a speech given to the United States Congress, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces the establishment of what will later be called the Eisenhower Doctrine.
1968 – Alexander DubCek comes to power: “Prague Spring” begins in Czechoslovakia.
1969 – Members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary damage property and assault occupants in the Bogside in Derry, Northern Ireland. In response, residents erect barricades and establish Free Derry.
1972 – U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the development of a space shuttle program.
1974 – An earthquake in Lima, Peru, kills six people, and damages hundreds of houses.
1975 – The Tasman Bridge in Tasmania, Australia, is struck by the bulk ore carrier Lake Illawarra, killing twelve people.
1976 – Cambodia is renamed the Democratic Kampuchea by the Khmer Rouge.
1976 – Ten Protestant civilians are shot dead by a paramilitary group at Kingsmill in County Armagh, Northern Ireland (part of The Troubles).
1991 – Georgian troops attack Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, opening the 1991-1992 South Ossetia War.
1993 – The oil tanker MV Braer runs aground on the coast of the Shetland Islands, spilling 84,700 tons of crude oil.
1993 – Washington state executes Westley Allan Dodd by hanging (the last legal hanging in America).
1996 – Hamas bombmaker Yahya Ayyash is killed by an Israeli-planted booby-trapped cell phone.
2003 – Police arrest seven suspects in connection with Wood Green ricin plot.
2005 – Eris, the largest known dwarf planet in the solar system, is discovered by the team of Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David L. Rabinowitz using images originally taken on October 21, 2003, at the Palomar Observatory.
Christian Feast Day:
John Neumann (Roman Catholic Church)
Simeon Stylites (Western Church)
National Bird Day. (United States)