6 June 1889

The Great Seattle Fire destroys almost all of downtown Seattle.

The spring of 1889 in Seattle had been beautiful. There had been little rain, and temperatures were consistently in the 70s. Unfortunately, the unusually good weather proved to be disastrous, as the dry conditions conspired with a handful of other elements to allow for the worst fire in city history.

On the afternoon of June 6, 1889, John Back, an assistant in Victor Clairmont’s woodworking shop at Front Street and Madison Avenue, was heating glue over a gasoline fire. Sometime after 2:15, the glue boiled over, caught fire, and spread to the floors, which were covered by wood chips and turpentine. He tried to put the fire out with water, but that only served to thin the turpentine and spread the fire further. Everyone got out of the building safely, and the fire department got to the fire by 2:45. By that time, there was so much smoke that it was hard to find the source of the fire, and by the time it was found, the fire was out of control. The fire quickly spread to the Dietz & Mayer Liquor Store, which exploded, the Crystal Palace Saloon, and the Opera House Saloon. Fueled by alcohol, the entire block from Madison to Marion was on fire.

Seattle’s water supply proved to be a major problem in fighting the fire. At that time, water was provided by the privately-owned Spring Hill Water Company. Hydrants were only located on every other street, the ‘pipes’ were small, and many were made of hollowed out logs. As more hoses were added to fight the fire, water pressure fell to the point that the hoses didn’t work. Firemen tried to keep the fire from spreading further by pumping water from Elliott Bay onto the Commercial Mill, but the tide was out, and the hoses were not long enough to reach the side of the building closest to the fire. To add insult to injury, crowds harassed the fire fighters as the water pressure fell. At the same time the water supply was dwindling, the wind rose, helping spread the fire. Soon the mill was on fire, as well as the Colman Building and Opera House.

Mayor Robert Moran took command from acting Fire Chief James Murphy, who was reportedly “distraught”. Moran ordered the Colman block to be blown up, in an attempt to end the fire, but the fire jumped past the block, and spread to the wharves as well as up the hill toward Second Avenue.

By 4:00, most residents realized that downtown Seattle was doomed. The fire had crossed Second Avenue, and was heading up to Third. Smoke could be seen in Tacoma, and the roar of the fire heard for miles. Help had been called in from Tacoma, Portland, and even Victoria, B.C., but would take hours to arrive. Business- and home-owners cleared out as much as they could. Those who were able hired wagons to haul belongings onto ships before the ships moved out of the harbor away from the wharves, which were on fire. The Seattle Times was able to get most of their files and books aboard the schooner Teaser.

As the fire reached Third Avenue, Trinity Church burned quickly, and the fire moved across the street toward the three-story Courthouse. Before long, the fire had reached Fourth and University, but a handful of buildings were saved, including the Courthouse. The Fire Department had tried to water down the Courthouse to prevent it from burning, but water pressure was so low, the hoses could only spray the first floor. Quick-thinking Lawrence Booth climbed to the roof of the Courthouse and poured buckets of water down the sides of the building, saving the structure as well as all the public records and the jail within. Booth’s lead inspired bucket brigades to save the Boston Block and Jacob Levy’s house. Henry Yesler’s house was also saved, by someone who thought to cover it with wet blankets.

Meanwhile, the fire was spreading even farther. Before it reached Yesler, Moran ordered that the shacks there be either torn down or exploded, in the attempt to create another fire block. Despite such efforts, the fire crossed the gap, and Skid Road went up in flames next. Mayor Moran declared an 8:00 pm curfew that night and ordered all saloons closed until further notice.

The fire burned until 3:00 am. When it was done, the damage was enormous. 120 acres had been destroyed, as was every wharf and Mill from Union to Jackson Streets. Although the loss of human life was evidently low it was estimated that 1 million rats were killed. Thousands of people were displaced, and 5,000 men lost their jobs. The city estimated it’s losses at over $8 million, and that number didn’t even include person losses or those of water and electrical services. The total losses may have been as high as $20 million.

The city didn’t take much time to mourn. Instead Seattle banded together, and at 11 am on June 7, 600 businessmen met to discuss how to cope with the current situation and plan for the future. To combat looting, two hundred special deputies were sworn in and the town placed under martial law for two weeks. A relief committee was formed to handle the charitable donations that were being sent from all over the country. Tacoma, no longer a rival, but an ally in the time of need, raised $20,000 and sent up a relief committee to help. The armory was converted to a dining hall, so the displaced citizens would have a place to eat. Supplies from San Francisco arrived by June 18. Relief bureaus were able to close as quickly as June 20, as tent-restaurants had been set up quickly, and were able to meet people’s needs. Within a month of the fire over 100 businesses were operating out of tents.

Instead of relocating, most businesses decided to rebuild where they had been, and rebuilding began almost immediately. Wooden buildings were banned in the burned out district, to be replaced by brick. At the same time, streets were raised up to 22 feet in places, helping to level the hilly city. Within a year, 465 buildings had been built, most of the reconstruction was complete and the businesses had reopened.

The fire also led to a handful of other changes for the city. At the time of the fire, the city had an all-volunteer fire department, many of which quit after the fire, citing the harassment they had faced while trying to fight the fire. This personnel crisis led to the creation of a professional fire department by October 1889. The city also took control of the water supply, increasing the size of the pipes, eliminating the wooden pipes, and added more hydrants. The fire, which could have spelled the end of the city, instead became just a brief setback, and led to many significant improvements.

31 March 1889

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is officially opened.

March 31st saw the grand opening of the iconic Eiffel Tower! Named after engineer Gustave Eiffel whose company constructed the tower, it was a huge controversy of the art world, dividing opinions of it’s design but has gone on to become one of the most visited monument in the world, receiving its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

On March 30 1885, Gustave presented a paper to the Societe des ingienieurs Civils detailing the project, it’s possible technical difficulties and the practical uses that the tower would have. He concluded by highlighting that it would symbolise “not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude.”

The main structural work was completed at the end of March 1889 and, on 31 March, Eiffel celebrated by leading a group of government officials, accompanied by representatives of the press, to the top of the tower. Because the lifts were not yet in operation, the ascent was made by foot, and took over an hour, with Eiffel stopping frequently to explain various features. Most of the party chose to stop at the lower levels, but a few, including the structural engineer, Émile Nouguier, the head of construction, Jean Compagnon, the President of the City Council, and reporters from Le Figaro and Le Monde Illustré, completed the ascent. At 2:35 pm, Eiffel hoisted a large Tricolour to the accompaniment of a 25-gun salute fired at the first level.

There was still work to be done, particularly on the lifts and facilities, and the tower was not opened to the public until nine days after the opening of the exposition on 6 May; even then, the lifts had not been completed. The tower was an instant success with the public, and nearly 30,000 visitors made the 1,710-step climb to the top before the lifts entered service on 26 May. Tickets cost 2 francs for the first level, 3 for the second, and 5 for the top, with half-price admission on Sundays, and by the end of the exhibition there had been 1,896,987 visitors.

After dark, the tower was lit by hundreds of gas lamps, and a beacon sent out three beams of red, white and blue light. Two searchlights mounted on a circular rail were used to illuminate various buildings of the exposition. The daily opening and closing of the exposition were announced by a cannon at the top.

Illumination of the tower at night during the exposition
On the second level, the French newspaper Le Figaro had an office and a printing press, where a special souvenir edition, Le Figaro de la Tour, was made. There was also a pâtisserie.

At the top, there was a post office where visitors could send letters and postcards as a memento of their visit. Graffitists were also catered for: sheets of paper were mounted on the walls each day for visitors to record their impressions of the tower. Gustave Eiffel described some of the responses as vraiment curieuse.

Famous visitors to the tower included the Prince of Wales, Sarah Bernhardt, “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Thomas Edison. Eiffel invited Edison to his private apartment at the top of the tower, where Edison presented him with one of his phonographs, a new invention and one of the many highlights of the exposition. Edison signed the guestbook with this message:

To M Eiffel the Engineer the brave builder of so gigantic and original specimen of modern Engineering from one who has the greatest respect and admiration for all Engineers including the Great Engineer the Bon Dieu, Thomas Edison.

Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years. It was to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down but as the tower proved to be valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiry of the permit.

2 November 1889

North Dakota and South Dakota are admitted as the 39th and 40th USA states.

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The U.S. Congress created the Dakota Territory, which consisted of the present-day states of North and South Dakota, and most of Montana and Wyoming. In 1863 the size of the territory was reduced to the area of North and South Dakota. With the advent of the Northern Pacific Railroad, immigration and settlement increased; the climate was suitable for wheat, which was in high demand in American cities and in Europe. By the late 1870s Dakotans felt inadequately represented by territorial status and began pushing for statehood, either as one state or two.

Both North and South Dakota were admitted to the United States. Since President Benjamin Harrison did not want to show favoritism, he listed the order of their admissions alphabetically, with North Dakota the 39th state and South Dakota the 40th state.

Today, North Dakota is in the midst of an oil boom. The state sits on a rock unit known as the Bakken formation, which also covers parts of Montana and Saskatchewan. The new technology of “fracking” has enabled oil production to explode in the area, going from 3,000 barrels a day in 2005 to some 800,000 in 2013 (about 11% of the country’s total production).

8 July 1889

The Wall Street Journal is first published.

The Wall Street Journal is an American business-focused, English-language international daily newspaper based in New York City. The Journal, along with its Asian and European editions, is published six days a week by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp. The newspaper is published in the broadsheet format and online.

The Wall Street Journal is the largest newspaper in the United States by circulation. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, the Journal had a circulation of about 2.4 million copies including nearly 900,000 digital subscriptions as of March 2013, compared with USA Today’s 1.7 million.

The newspaper has won 40 Pulitzer Prizes through 2017 and derives its name from Wall Street in the heart of the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. The Journal has been printed continuously since its inception on July 8, 1889, by Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser.The Journal also publishes the luxury news and lifestyle magazine.

Here’s what is said to be the first issue of the Wall Street Journal, from July 8, 1889.

The_Wall_Street_Journal_first_issue_cc_img

This certainly puts the chatter about “new media” versus “old media” in perspective. Imagine the clout sites (and companies) like Huffington Post and Gawker Media will look like when they’ve been around for 120 years.

6 May 1889

The Eiffel Tower is officially opened to the public.

The Eiffel Tower (French: La Tour Eiffel) is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Work on the tower commenced in 1887, and the finished product was inaugurated on March 31, 1889. The official opening date was May 6, 1889.
Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.
The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building.

During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Because of the addition of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres (17 ft). Not including broadcast antennae, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.

The tower was an immediate success with the public, and nearly 30,000 visitors made the 1,710-step climb to the top using the stairs before the lifts entered service on 26 May. Tickets cost 2 francs for the first level, 3 for the second, and 5 for the top, with half-price admission on Sundays, and by the end of the exhibition there had been 1,896,987 visitors.

31 March 1889

The Eiffel Tower is officially opened in Paris.

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On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower’s designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel’s plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost 1,000 feet above Paris and be the world’s tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor.

Eiffel’s tower was greeted with skepticism from critics who argued that it would be structurally unsound, and indignation from others who thought it would be an eyesore in the heart of Paris. Unperturbed, Eiffel completed his great tower under budget in just two years. Only one worker lost his life during construction, which at the time was a remarkably low casualty number for a project of that magnitude. The light, airy structure was by all accounts a technological wonder and within a few decades came to be regarded as an architectural masterpiece.

The Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns that unite to form a single vertical tower. Platforms, each with an observation deck, are at three levels. Elevators ascend the piers on a curve, and Eiffel contracted the Otis Elevator Company of the United States to design the tower’s famous glass-cage elevators.