May 1, 2012 - Build It! Day

 Sometimes I wonder how puny, weakling humans even dare to think about flying through the sky (let alone going to the moon), traveling underwater for days at a time (let alone down to high-pressure depths), or building huge structures. Sometimes I look at even ordinary accomplishments like the average skyscraper, and I think, Wow! I'm impressed.

On this date in 1884, construction began in Chicago, Illinois, on the first skyscraper in the world: the 10-story Home Insurance Building. The architect, Major Jenney, created a steel structural frame that evolved into the “Chicago skeleton” form of construction in future skyscrapers. As a matter of fact, Chicago has been called the home of the skyscraper!

Check out this amazing video of lightning striking Chicago skyscrapers. 

On this date in 1931, the Empire State Building was dedicated and opened to the public. It was a whopping 102 stories high! Strange-but-true: although the Empire State Building is in New York City, it was officially opened by then-President Herbert Hoover while the president was sitting in the White House, in Washington, D.C.! The president pressed a button, and far away, the lights of the Empire State Building turned on, thereby declaring the building open!

(From the sources I consulted, it seems apparent that President Hoover's button was purely symbolic, and somebody right there in NYC flicked the light switch at the same moment.)

For more info and activities about skyscrapers, check out this and also this other earlier post.

Also on this date:

May Day

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