23 February 1903

Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, officially known as Naval Station Guantanamo Bay or NSGB also called GTMO because of the airfield designation code or Gitmo because of the common pronunciation of this code by the U.S. military, is a United States military base located on 120 square kilometres of land and water at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which the U.S. leased for use as a coaling station and naval base in 1903 for $2,000 in gold per year until 1934, when the payment was set to match the value in gold in dollars; in 1974, the yearly lease was set to $4,085. The base is on the shore of Guantánamo Bay at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base. Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban government has consistently protested against the U.S. presence on Cuban soil and called it illegal under international law, alleging that the base was imposed on Cuba by force.

Since 2002, the naval base has contained a military prison, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, for unlawful combatants captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places during the War on Terror. Cases of torture of prisoners, and their alleged denial of protection under the Geneva Conventions, have been condemned internationally.

During the Spanish–American War, the U.S. fleet attacking Santiago secured Guantánamo’s harbor for protection during the hurricane season of 1898. The Marines landed at Guantanamo Bay with naval support, and American and Cuban forces routed the defending Spanish troops. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris of 1898, in which Spain formally relinquished control of Cuba. Although the war was over, the United States maintained a strong military presence on the island. In 1901 the United States government passed the Platt Amendment as part of an Army Appropriations Bill. Section VII of this amendment read

That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States

After initial resistance by the Cuban Constitutional Convention, the Platt Amendment was incorporated into the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba in 1901. The Constitution took effect in 1902, and land for a naval base at Guantanamo Bay was granted to the United States the following year.

USS Monongahela 1862, the old warship served as a storeship at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until totally destroyed by fire on March 17, 1908. A 4-inch gun was salvaged from her wreck and put on display at the Naval Station. Since the gun was deformed by the heat from the fire, it was nicknamed “Old Droopy”. The gun was on display on Deer Point until the command disposed of it, judging its appearance less than exemplary of naval gunnery.

16 December 1903

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel in Bombay opens.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a “Heritage Grand” class five-star hotel in the Colaba region of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, next to the Gateway of India. Historically it was known as the “Taj Mahal Hotel” or the “Taj Palace Hotel”. or simply “the Taj”.

Part of the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, this hotel is considered the flagship property of the group and contains 560 rooms and 44 suites. There are some 1,600 staff including 35 butlers. From a historical and architectural point of view, the two buildings that make up the hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace, and the Tower are two distinct buildings, built at different times and in different architectural designs. In 2017, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel has acquired an image trademark. It is the first building in the country to get intellectual property rights protection for its architectural design.

The hotel has hosted many notable guests, from presidents to captains of industry and stars of show business.

The new wing called Taj Mahal Tower.

The original entrance on the west side; now the site of the hotel pool.
The hotel’s original building was commissioned by Tata and first opened its doors to guests on 16 December 1903.

It is widely believed that Jamsetji Tata decided to build the hotel after he was refused entry to one of the city’s grand hotels of the time, Watson’s Hotel, as it was restricted to “whites only”. However, this story has been challenged by some commentators that suggest that Tata was unlikely to have been concerned with ‘revenge’ against his British adversaries. Instead, they suggest that the Taj was built at the urging of editor of The Times of India who felt a hotel “worthy of Bombay” was needed.

The original Indian architects were Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza, and the project was completed by an English engineer, W. A. Chambers. The builder was Khansaheb Sorabji Ruttonji Contractor who also designed and built its famous central floating staircase. The cost of construction was £250,000.

Originally the main entrance was on the other side, where now the pool exists, and the ocean was at the back, although it is now always viewed and photographed from the ocean side.

Between 1915 and 1919, work proceeded at Apollo Bundar to reclaim the land behind the hotel where the Gateway of India was built in 1924. Gateway of India soon became a major focal point in Bombay.

The original clientele were mainly the Europeans, the Maharajas and the elites. Many world-renowned personalities have since stayed there, from Somerset Maugham and Duke Ellington to Lord Mountbatten and Bill Clinton.

When it opened in 1903, the hotel was the first in India to have: electricity, American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers. Later it also had the city’s first licensed bar, India’s first all-day restaurant, and the India’s first discotheque, Blow Up. Initially in 1903, it charged Rs 13 for rooms with fans and attached bathrooms, and Rs 20 with full board.

During World War I the hotel was converted into a hospital with 600 beds.

Jinnah’s estranged wife Ratanbai Petit lived here during her last days in 1929. By 1966, the building was run-down, perhaps as a results of losing the British customers in 1948.

The Taj Hotel was home to legendary Jazz musician Micky Correa, “The Sultan of Swing” from 1936-1960.

The Taj Mahal Tower, an additional wing of the hotel, was opened in 1973. It was designed by jointly by Daraius Batliwala & Rustom Patell with the latter having a greater focus later on. Also in 1970s Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was organized that built new properties and converted palaces into heritage hotels. In 1980, it expanded overseas.

The hotel received extensive international exposure in 2008 and reopened after extensive repairs.

6 October 1903

The High Court of Australia sits for the first time.


The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the States, and the ability to interpret the Constitution of Australia thereby powerfully shaping the development of federalism in Australia.

The High Court is mandated by Constitution section 71, which vests in it the judicial power of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Court was constituted by, and its first members were appointed under, the Judiciary Act 1903. It now operates under Constitution sections 71 to 75, the Judiciary Act, and the High Court of Australia Act 1979. It is composed of seven Justices: the Chief Justice of Australia, currently Susan Kiefel, and six other Justices. They are appointed by the Governor-General of Australia, on the advice of the federal government, and under the constitution must retire at age 70.

Since 1979, The High Court has been located in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The majority of its sittings are held in the High Court building, situated in the Parliamentary Triangle, overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. With an increasing utilisation of video links, sittings are also commonly held in the state capitals.

23 July 1903

The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.


As any entrepreneur will tell you, paying your suppliers can be among the toughest challenges facing a start-up business. That’s as true now as it was in 1903, when 39-year-old motor racing enthusiast Henry Ford decided to strike out on his own.

In June that year, the Ford Motor Company was established. A thousand shares were split between 12 investors, with Ford, as vice-president and chief engineer, holding a 25.5% stake. But right from the get-go, the company was in dire straits.

The fledgling company depended on suppliers, including the Dodge brothers, to make car parts. These were assembled by a team of 40 engineers in a rented garage on Mack Avenue in Detroit. But Ford, who had yet to sell a single car, struggled to keep up with the payments.

Faced with the choice of walking away or doubling down, the Dodge brothers (who later founded their own famous car company) decided to throw their lot in with Ford. They agreed to write off $7,000, and extended a $3,000 six-month credit line in return for 10% of the company.

Not long after, things started to look up. The Ford Motor Company received its first order for three Model A cars, one of which was paid for upfront, while deposits totalling $1,320 were paid for the other two. That was just as well, seeing as the company had already blown through all but $223 of its $28,000 start-up capital.

“Who can’t afford a Fordmobile?”, asked an advert placed in the June edition of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal. Well, most people. The Model A came in two flavours: a four-seater ‘Tonneau’, priced at $850, while a sporty two-seater version, the ‘Runabout’, cost $750 – not cheap considering the average US salary in 1900 was only $438.

But Ernest Pfennig of Chicago was one of those who could, and on 23 July, he became the proud owner of a Ford. While the Model A was no runaway success, by October, the Ford Motor Company had managed to turn a $37,000 profit.

Ford and his engineers continued to tinker with his designs, and in 1908, the Model T went on sale. The ‘Tin Lizzie’ was a better hit with the motoring public, and safeguarded the Ford Motoring Company’s future in the years ahead.