Shakespeare’s words and Julius Caesar’s death may have combined to turn March 15th (known to many history buffs as the Ides of March) into a rather ominous-sounding affair, but we’re here to tell you about some of the fantastically wonderful and not-so-stabby events that also took place on this day.
1. The first internet domain name was registered
On March 15, 1985 Symbolics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, software company somehow managed to register the very first domain name, symbolics.com, on the Internet without any help at all from current industry bigwigs GoDaddy or Google.
The site’s current claim to fame seems to be centred around being a pioneer in the online world, and by that we mean they did something no one else had and now just sits there tracking the statistics as to how many people visit their domain and from where. It’s somewhat pointless but oddly fascinating at the same time, which to us sums up the Internet quite nicely.
2. The Equal Voting Rights Act was put before Congress
March 7, 1965, was not a proud day in the American history of the civil rights movement. The events at Selma, Alabama, where peaceful voting rights protestors were forcibly confronted by tear gas and night stick-wielding Alabama state troopers while the confrontation was broadcast on national television, became a loudly heard call to action for the nation.
Eight days after Selma, President Lyndon B. Johnson stood before Congress and demanded comprehensive voting rights legislation and the stop to the the unfortunately common practice of election officials in some states doing whatever they could to keep African-Americans from casting their vote.
As a result, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965.
3. Christopher Columbus returned to Spain with great news
Columbus was a busy guy back in the 1490s, and thanks to a helpful poem most folk know that in 1492 he stumbled upon the Americas and the rest, as they say, is history.
With tales of adventures waiting to be told and a cargo of riches from recently discovered lands Columbus returned to Spain on March 15, 1493. The news he delivered was well-received by Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (how do you say no to someone who brings you a pineapple and a hammock?), and he eventually made three more trips overseas.
4. America got its first underwater park
Florida’s 70 nautical square miles of the Key Largo coral reef beds claim this distinction as of March 15, 1960, when they were officially made part of the U.S. state park system.
The 25-mile long John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park now offers visitors a chance to get as close to nature as possible with glass-bottomed boat tours of the region and ample opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.
5. Stairs finally got some competition
Sure, it might’ve originally been called an inclined elevator, but when Jesse W. Reno patented the first escalator on March 15, 1892, the sector of the world’s population that seemed to have an adverse reaction to the boring stationary stair rejoiced.
It did take some time for Reno’s invention to catch on as the shopping center staple we all know it as now, though. When it made its public debut in 1896 Reno’s contraption was a novelty ride at Brooklyn’s Coney Island, where it entertained the masses for two weeks before being moved closer to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Its initial run saw 75,000 very-still riders ‘brave’ its 25% incline, but for this primitive escalator it was just a baby-step to trillions of calories not being burned off for generations to come.
6. The Godfather stormed Hollywood
New York City had the honor of hosting the premiere screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s cinematic masterpiece The Godfather on March 15, 1972.
Besides being an Oscar winner for best picture in 1973, The Godfather also opened the door for professional comics and fans alike around the world to latch onto Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Don Vito Corleone. (Who amongst us hasn’t heard someone attempt the “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” line?)
7. The first blood bank opened in America
A lot more lives were able to be saved starting on March 15, 1937, when Chicago’s Cook County Hospital (now the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County) began operating America’s first blood bank.
The concept of banking the red stuff we all need to survive was conceived by Dr. Bernard Fantus, the hospital’s director of therapeutics. In its first year of operation the blood bank was key in the hospital’s 1.354 transfusions, and the Stroger facilities alone currently perform over 15,000 transfusions every year.
Those humble beginnings lead to millions of lives being saved around the world as the technology behind storing blood advanced and blood banks became a possibility in dozens of other countries.
Thanks to the generosity of donors nationwide, each year more 4.5 million Americans receive a life-saving blood transfusion, and 32,000 pints of blood are used in patients across the country.
8. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame welcomed McCartney
Yes, we know-Paul McCartney was already a member of rock’s elite and had a place in the Hall of Fame to prove it, thanks to the Beatles being inducted in 1988.
But for a lengthy period of time after he was eligible for induction based on his solo career (the Hall has its 25-year rule in place; artists must wait 25 years after the release of their first album, in McCartney’s case that would be 1970s The Family Way) McCartney never got the nod.
All of that finally came to an end when Sir Paul was finally inducted as a solo artist on March 15, 1999.