1 May 1994

The 3-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna is killed in an accident whilst leading the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Brazil’s three-time Formula One world champion Senna was killed in an accident during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on May 1st, 1994. The circuit is being opened to the public from the 20th anniversary on Thursday through to May 4th.

Roland Ratzenberger, the Austrian driver who died the day before Senna in a crash on the same track during qualifying, will also be remembered.

Past and current figures from F1 are set to be present for a series of events, from which a part of each day’s proceeds will go towards the Ayrton Senna Institute’s charitable works.

Around the Imola site – where the paddock and pits will be open and people will be able to either drive, cycle or travel on foot around the track – there will be a commemorative ceremony, as well as exhibitions and talks, including a presentation on safety in F1.

A lasting legacy of the deaths of Senna and Ratzenberger was the impact they had on the attitudes towards driver safety in the sport. It is testament to the measures implemented since, that Senna, who was 34, remains the last driver to die over the course of an F1 weekend.

The Sao Paulo native was truly a sporting superstar at the time of his death, and has attained almost demigod status in his home country. He made his F1 debut in 1984 with Toleman and, after moving to Lotus, secured two fourth-placed championship finishes and then third spot in 1987.

In 1988 he joined McLaren as team-mate to Alain Prost, and from there, one of the greatest rivalries in F1 history played out.

Senna pipped the Frenchman to the title that year, saw Prost take it ahead of him in 1989, and was then crowned champion in each of the following two seasons, becoming the then-youngest three-time champion in history in 1991 at the age of 31.

In 1992 he came fourth and was then second in 1993 as Prost, who had moved to Williams, claimed his fourth title.

Senna finally joined Williams himself for the 1994 campaign, with Prost deciding to retire as he refused to be his team-mate again. The Brazilian made his worst start to a season with two retirements in the opening two races. The third race, which proved to be his last, was at Imola.

Senna, who was leading at the time, crashed on lap seven, smashing into a wall at the Tamburello Curve and sustaining fatal head injuries.

Brazil’s president Itamar Franco ordered three days of national mourning, and when Senna’s body was flown back to his home city, an estimated three million people lined the streets to pay their respects as it made a 20-mile journey from the airport to the building where he lay in state.

Once there, the queue of those who wished to pay their last respects is understood to have stretched for three miles, some suggesting it was seven hours before the last of the 200,000 mourners shuffled past.

1 May 1931

The Empire State Building is dedicated in New York City.

On this day in 1 May 1931, President Herbert Hoover officially dedicates New York City’s Empire State Building, pressing a button from the White House that turns on the building’s lights. Hoover’s gesture, of course, was symbolic; while the president remained in Washington, D.C., someone else flicked the switches in New York.

The idea for the Empire State Building is said to have been born of a competition between Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler Corporation and John Jakob Raskob of General Motors, to see who could erect the taller building. Chrysler had already begun work on the famous Chrysler Building, the gleaming 1,046-foot skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. Not to be bested, Raskob assembled a group of well-known investors, including former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith. The group chose the architecture firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon Associates to design the building. The Art-Deco plans, said to have been based in large part on the look of a pencil, were also builder-friendly: The entire building went up in just over a year, under budget at $40 million and well ahead of schedule. During certain periods of building, the frame grew an astonishing four-and-a-half stories a week.

At the time of its completion, the Empire State Building, at 102 stories and 1,250 feet high 1,454 feet to the top of the lightning rod, was the world’s tallest skyscraper. The Depression-era construction employed as many as 3,400 workers on any single day, most of whom received an excellent pay rate, especially given the economic conditions of the time. The new building imbued New York City with a deep sense of pride, desperately needed in the depths of the Great Depression, when many city residents were unemployed and prospects looked bleak. The grip of the Depression on New York’s economy was still evident a year later, however, when only 25 percent of the Empire State’s offices had been rented.

In 1972, the Empire State Building lost its title as world’s tallest building to New York’s World Trade Center, which itself was the tallest skyscraper for but a year. Today the honor belongs to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower, which soars 2,717 feet into the sky.

1 May 1999

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SpongeBob SquarePants launches on Nickelodeon.

SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg for Nickelodeon. The series chronicles the adventures and endeavors of the title character and his various friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom. The series’ popularity has made it a media franchise, as well as the highest rated series to ever air on Nickelodeon, and the most distributed property of MTV Networks. As of 2015, the media franchise has generated $12 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.

Many of the ideas for the series originated in an unpublished educational comic book titled The Intertidal Zone, which Hillenburg created in 1989. He began developing SpongeBob SquarePants into a television series in 1996 upon the cancellation of Rocko’s Modern Life, and turned to Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on that series, to voice the title character. SpongeBob was originally going to be named SpongeBoy, and the series was to be called SpongeBoy Ahoy!, but these were both changed, as the name was already trademarked.

Nickelodeon held a preview for the series in the United States on May 1, 1999, following the television airing of the 1999 Kids’ Choice Awards. The series officially premiered on July 17, 1999. It has received worldwide critical acclaim since its premiere and gained enormous popularity by its second season. A feature film, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, was released in theaters on November 19, 2004, and a sequel was released on February 6, 2015. On October 15, 2016, the series began airing its current tenth season, beginning with the episode “Whirly Brains”.

The series has won a variety of awards, including six Annie Awards, eight Golden Reel Awards, two Emmy Awards, 12 Kids’ Choice Awards, and two BAFTA Children’s Awards. Despite its widespread popularity, the series has been involved in several public controversies, including one centered on speculation over SpongeBob’s intended sexual orientation, and another focusing on the perceived declining quality of the show’s content since the release of the first film. In 2011, a newly described species of fungi, Spongiforma squarepantsii, was named after the cartoon’s title character.