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.
November 9 is the 313th day of the year (314th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 52 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1872, fire rips through Boston. The Great Boston Fire was Boston’s largest urban fire and still one of the most costly fire-related property losses in American history. The conflagration began at 7:20 p.m. on November 9, 1872, in the basement of a commercial warehouse at 83-87 Summer Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The fire was finally contained twelve hours later, after it had consumed about 65 acres of Boston’s downtown, 776 buildings, and much of the financial district and caused $73.5 million in damage. At least twenty people are known to have died in the fire.
In the aftermath, the city established an entirely new system of firefighting and prevention. The fire also led to the creation of Boston’s financial district.
The fire began in the basement of a warehouse at the corner of Kingston and Summer streets. At the time, this area of the city contained a mix of residences and light industry. Its buildings and most area roofs were made mainly of wood, allowing the blaze to spread quickly as the wind blew red hot embers from rooftop to rooftop. In addition, as Boston streets were narrow, large flames from one structure could literally leap across them to nearby buildings.
Firefighting units from Maine to New Haven, Connecticut, arrived to help, but efforts to fight the fire were plagued by difficulties. There was not enough water on hand to get the fire under control; the hydrant system did not work well because much of the equipment was not standardized; and even when firefighters got their hands on an adequate supply of water, the height of the buildings and the narrowness of the streets made it difficult to direct the water at the blaze from the optimum angle. Because a local equine epidemic had struck the city fire department’s horses, it was difficult to get the fire engines to the correct locations at the right times. In addition, some of the efforts were counter-productive. Explosions were used to attempt fire breaks, but this high-risk strategy was not executed with enough precision and served only to further spread the fire.
The fire was finally stopped at the doors of Fanueil Hall the following morning, but it had already destroyed much of the downtown area. Boston’s officials realized that their fire-prevention efforts had been ineffective and, in the aftermath of the disaster, began to revise and strengthen all of the city’s fire laws and regulations. An inspection system was instituted and the local fire departments began to coordinate their efforts.
694 – Egica, a king of the Visigoths of Hispania, accuses Jews of aiding Muslims, sentencing all Jews to slavery.
1282 – Pope Martin IV excommunicates King Peter III of Aragon.
1313 – Louis the Bavarian defeats his cousin Frederick I of Austria at the Battle of Gamelsdorf.
1330 – Battle of Posada, Wallachian Voievode Basarab I defeats the Hungarian army in an ambush
1456 – Ulrich II of Celje (Slovene: Ulrik Celjski, German Ulrich von Cilli, Hungarian: Cillei Ulrik), last prince of Celje principality, was assassinated in Belgrade.
1492 – Peace of Etaples between Henry VII and Charles VIII.
1494 – The Family de’ Medici were expelled from Florence.
1520 – More than 50 people are sentenced and executed in the Stockholm Bloodbath
1620 – Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower sight land at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
1688 – The Glorious Revolution: William of Orange captures Exeter.
1697 – Pope Innocent XII founds the city of Cervia.
1720 – The synagogue of Yehudah he-Hasid is burned down by Arab creditors, leading to the expulsion of the Ashkenazim from Jerusalem.
1729 – Spain, France and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Seville.
1764 – Mary Campbell, a captive of the Lenape during the French and Indian War, is turned over to forces commanded by Colonel Henry Bouquet.
1791 – Foundation of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen.
1793 – William Carey reaches the Hooghly River.
1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte leads the Coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire ending the Directory government, and becoming one of its three Consuls (Consulate Government).
1848 – Robert Blum, a German revolutionary, is executed in Vienna.
1851 – Kentucky marshals abduct abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and take him to Kentucky to stand trial for helping a slave escape.
1857 – The Atlantic founded in Boston.
1861 – The first documented football match in Canada is played at University College, University of Toronto.
1862 – American Civil War: Union General Ambrose Burnside assumes command of the Army of the Potomac, after George B. McClellan is removed.
1867 – Tokugawa Shogunate hands power back to the Emperor of Japan, starting the Meiji Restoration.
1872 – The Great Boston Fire of 1872.
1887 – The United States receives rights to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
1888 – Jack the Ripper kills Mary Jane Kelly, his last known victim.
1906 – Theodore Roosevelt is the first sitting President of the United States to make an official trip outside the country. He did so to inspect progress on the Panama Canal.
1907 – The Cullinan Diamond is presented to King Edward VII on his birthday.
1913 – The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, the most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes, destroys 19 ships and kills more than 250 people.
1914 – SMS Emden sunk by HMAS Sydney in the Battle of Cocos.
1917 – Joseph Stalin enters the provisional government of Bolshevik Russia.
1918 – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany abdicates after the German Revolution, and Germany is proclaimed a Republic.
1921 – Albert Einstein is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with the photoelectric effect.
1923 – In Munich, Germany, police and government troops crush the Beer Hall Putsch in Bavaria. The failed coup is the work of the Nazis.
1932 – Riots between conservative and socialist supporters in Switzerland kill 12 and injure 60.
1935 – The Congress of Industrial Organizations is founded in Atlantic City, New Jersey by eight trade unions belonging to the American Federation of Labor.
1937 – Japanese troops take control of Shanghai, China.
1938 – Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath dies from the fatal gunshot wounds of Jewish resistance fighter Herschel Grynszpan, an act which the Nazis used as an excuse to instigate the 1938 national pogrom, also known as Kristallnacht.
1940 – Warsaw is awarded the Virtuti Militari.
1945 – Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan is founded.
1947 – Junagadh is annexed as to Indian military intervention.
1953 – Cambodia becomes independent from France.
1960 – Robert McNamara is named president of Ford Motor Co., the first non-Ford to serve in that post. A month later, he quit to join the newly-elected John F. Kennedy administration.
1963 – At Miike coal mine, Miike, Japan, an explosion kills 458, and hospitalises 839 with carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, in Japan, a three-train disaster occurs in Yokohama, kills more than 160 people.
1965 – Several U.S. states and parts of Canada are hit by a series of blackouts lasting up to 13 hours in the Northeast Blackout of 1965.
1965 – Catholic Worker member Roger Allen LaPorte, protesting against the Vietnam War, sets himself on fire in front of the United Nations building.
1967 – Apollo program: NASA launches the unmanned Apollo 4 test spacecraft atop the first Saturn V rocket from Cape Kennedy, Florida.
1967 – First issue of Rolling Stone Magazine is published.
1970 – Vietnam War: The Supreme Court of the United States votes 6 to 3 against hearing a case to allow Massachusetts to enforce its law granting residents the right to refuse military service in an undeclared war.
1979 – Nuclear false alarm: the NORAD computers and the Alternate National Military Command Center in Fort Ritchie, Maryland detected purported massive Soviet nuclear strike. After reviewing the raw data from satellites and checking the early warning radars, the alert is cancelled.
1985 – Garry Kasparov, 22, of the Soviet Union becomes the youngest World Chess Champion by beating Anatoly Karpov, also of the Soviet Union.
1989 – Cold War: Fall of the Berlin Wall. Communist-controlled East Germany opens checkpoints in the Berlin Wall allowing its citizens to travel to West Germany. This key event led to the eventual reunification of East and West Germany.
1990 – New democratic constitution is issued in Nepal.
1990 – Mary Robinson is elected Ireland’s first female President and the first from the Labour Party.
1993 – Stari most, the “old bridge” in Bosnian Mostar built in 1566, collapses after several days of bombing.
1994 – The chemical element Darmstadtium is discovered.
1998 – Brokerage houses are ordered to pay 1.03 billion USD to cheated NASDAQ investors to compensate for their price-fixing. This is the largest civil settlement in United States history.
1998 – Capital punishment in the United Kingdom, already abolished for murder, is completely abolished for all remaining capital offences.
2005 – The Venus Express mission of the European Space Agency is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
2005 – Suicide bombers attacked three hotels in Amman, Jordan, killing at least 60 people.
2007 – The German Bundestag passes the controversial data retention bill mandating storage of citizens’ telecommunications traffic data for six months without probable cause.