The Eiffel Tower Is Inaugurated (1889)

Among the most recognized and visited structures in the world, the Eiffel Tower was built beside the Seine River in Paris between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World’s Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was constructed by 300 workers who joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron using 2,500,000 rivets. How many people died during the tower’s construction? Discuss

René Descartes (1596)

René Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher who is considered the father of modern philosophy. Aiming to apply the rigor of mathematics to all fields of human knowledge, Descartes discards the authoritarian system of the scholastics and begins with universal doubt. His methodology was a major influence in the transition from medieval science and philosophy to the modern era. What is thought to be the meaning of his most famous statement, “Cogito ergo sum“? Discuss

Model Trains

Model railroading (US) or Railway modeling (UK) is a hobby in which rail transport systems are modeled at a reduced scale. The models include the rail vehicles and the entire infrastructure of railroads as well as the surrounding scenery, called a “layout.” Today, model railway engines are generally operated by low-voltage electricity supplied through the tracks; how were early models made before the advent of practical electricity? Discuss

US President Ronald Reagan Is Shot (1981)

Just 69 days into his presidency, Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington, DC, along with three others. The would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., was motivated by an obsession with actress Jodie Foster and the film Taxi Driver. Reagan soon recovered, and Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a psychiatric facility. While Reagan was hospitalized, Secretary of State Alexander Haig made a controversial statement about presidential succession. What did he say? Discuss

Vincent van Gogh (1853)

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch postimpressionist artist whose paintings include some of the world’s best known, most popular, and most valuable pieces in the world today. Yet, only one of his paintings was sold while he lived. The majority of the works for which he is best known were produced in 29 months of frenzied activity and intermittent bouts with epileptic seizures and profound despair that tragically ended in suicide. What iconic painting did van Gogh complete while in a mental hospital? Discuss

Flea Markets

Flea markets are gatherings of buyers and vendors in open-market layouts. The vast majority of flea markets in rural areas sell goods that are secondhand, while newer but usually inexpensive items can be found at larger urban markets. The original flea market is likely the extant Marché aux puces in the northern suburbs of Paris, named after the flea-infested clothing and rags originally sold there in the 17th cent. What is a car boot sale? Discuss