Category Archives: History

The St. Francis Dam Disaster


On March 12, 1928 at approximately 11:57 pm, the St. Francis Dam broke. 12.4 billion gallons of water that was supposed to fill the sinks, bathtubs, and mouths of Los Angeles residents was now surging down the San Francisquito Canyon. At 11:58 pm, the power lines surrounding the dam snapped and powerhouse number two was destroyed, darkening the surrounding towns […]

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Why We “Drop” the Ball on New Year’s Eve


Jeremy asks: Why do we drop the ball on New Year’s eve in Times Square? When Adolph Ochs purchased the floundering New York Times in 1896, he made it his mission to make the newspaper the number one paper in all of New York. He started by forming the New York Times Company and made himself the majority owner, ensuring […]

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The Story of the U.S. National Anthem and How It Became Part of the National Pastime


As Francis Scott Key sat aboard a ship, now officially a prisoner of war, he could only watch as the British bombarded American forces at Fort McHenry.  He had been sent to the British ship HMS Tonnant, along with John Stuart Skinner, by President James Madison himself to negotiate the release of prisoners of war. After dining with British officers, […]

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The Fascinating Origin of Arlington National Cemetery


The final resting place of presidents, bandleaders, war heroes, astronauts, inventors, civil rights leaders, Pulitzer Prize winners, boxers, Supreme Court justices and sports stars, Arlington National Cemetery stands as a memorial to the melting pot of the United States. With connections to some of our nation’s most influential people and pivotal events, its history is as interesting as its denizens. […]

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WWII Files: Pigeon-Guided Missiles and Bat Bombs


Today I found out about Project Pigeon and Project X-Ray, WWII plans to use pigeons to guide missiles and (literal) bat bombers. The man behind Project Pigeon was famed American behaviorist and Harvard professor B.F. Skinner, who teamed with the U.S. Army to develop such a system.  Pigeons were trained using operant conditioning, a type of learning pioneered by Skinner […]

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The Resurrectionists and the Doctors’ Mob Riot


Since long before colonoscopies, mammograms and physicals (turn your head and cough), patients have had a love-hate relationship with doctors. Often uncomfortable (or downright awful), the procedures employed by physicians are frequently met with distrust and revulsion (until those methods achieve desired results). This was no different during the early years of modern medicine when one practice in particular, human […]

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JFK’s Assassination: Do Official Reports Tell the Whole Story?


In Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. Despite two official investigations concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed the President, doubts linger. This is due in no small part to the fact that neither Oswald, nor the official account, has ever been put on trial. Without the […]

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While the Roman Colosseum is More Famous Today, Its Predecessor, the Circus Maximus, Could Hold About 3 to 6 Times More People


Today I found out that the Colosseum in Rome wasn’t finished until 80 AD; before that, Romans used the Circus Maximus for games. The Colosseum is one of the most iconic landmarks in Rome and incredibly popular with tourists. Movies would have you think that chariot races, gladiator shows, and battle simulations always took place there, but that isn’t true. […]

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