Centenarians of 2013
A number of iconic and not so iconic entities are celebrating a milestone 100th anniversary this year. They include New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Suffragists march on Washington, D.C., The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Formica Company, Brillo Brand, the T-shirt, and the Boston Children’s Museum.
Grand Central Terminal
It took 10 years to rebuild (first built in 1871), but when Grand Central Terminal, this iconic symbol of New York City, reopened to the public on February 2nd 1913, it included among other things women and men waiting rooms with maid service, a ladies’ shoe-polishing room with ‘colored girls’ doing the polishing, men’s barbershops –both public and private, a dressing room, a telephone room, and a salon.
To keep current, the terminal underwent a number of renovations over the decades: Art gallery, art school, movie theater, and transit museum in the 1930s to today’s 125-feet ceiling with mural and information booth with its four-faced clock in the Main Concourse, lower-level Dining Concourse, roughly 68 specialty shops and stores, fine restaurants, a bustling market featuring fresh and gourmet goods, and banks. Outside, huge sculptures and another famous clock grace its 42nd Street facade.
Home to the Metro-North Railway, Grand Central Terminal also boasts 67 tracks and 44 platforms, which are used by millions of commuters annually. Ray LaHood, the United States Secretary of Transportation said on his official blog, that fact “makes it the busiest railroad in the U.S. (United States).” Grand Central Terminal is also the longest electrified railroad system in the U.S. and the first to have that type of system. The terminal became a historical landmark in December, 1976.
The Internal Revenue Service
On February 25, 1913, the 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving the federal government the right to collect taxes. This marked the birth of the IRS. People earning $3,000 plus dollars a year were required to file federal income tax. An article from www.washingtontimes.com, “IRS to celebrate 100 years of progressive redistribution of wealth,” estimated that $3,000 dollars was equivalent to a little over $68,000 dollars in 2011.
In 1913, form 1040 consisted of three pages of preparation with one page of instructions. In 2012, the form had two pages of preparation with 214 pages of tables, schedules, and instructions. This information is from a www.practiceadvisor.com report on the IRS’ centennial anniversary. The report also mentioned that in 1913, single and married filers did not have separate brackets, and that the highest bracket was seven percent. It was imposed on incomes over $500,000 dollars ($ 11.6 million today). Currently, the highest bracket is 39.6 percent. Single filers with incomes of $400,000 plus dollars pay this percentage. Married filers pay it on incomes of $450,000 plus dollars. Anyone earning over $9,500 dollars annually must file federal income tax.
Suffragists march on Washington, D.C.
Women’s History Month is fittingly celebrated in the month of March. A century ago, on March 3rd 1913, 5,000 brave and courageous women known as suffragists marched on Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, demanding the right to vote. It was the day before the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States.
The first ever civil rights march on Washington was led by New Jersey Quaker Alice Stores Paul (1885-1977), and New York’s Lucy Burns (1879-1966). Both women encountered activism while studying in England. They returned to the U.S. and joined the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In 1913, Paul became the head of the Suffrage Association’s Congressional Committee, part of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. The Union changed its name to the National Women’s Party in 1917. Their historic march helped minister the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote and own property.
The Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) celebrates 100 years of fighting against all forms of discrimination, and ensuing justice and fairness for every U.S. citizen. In 1913, German-born, U.S. naturalized Chicago lawyer Sigmund Livingston began the organization with other Jewish leaders and $200 dollars. At the time, their objective was to stamp out stereotyping and the negative images of Jews portrayed by the media. Their efforts were supported by Livingston’s lodge, the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith.
Over the years, the ADL’s function expanded to include improvement on laws concerning Jewish immigration in the 1950s; marching for civil rights in the 1960s; improvement on Arab-Israeli relations in the 1980s and ‘90s; and terrorism in the 2000s. Currently, the ADL has 30 regional and satellite offices battling discrimination in housing, the workplace, and education as well.
The Formica Company was founded by a couple of electrical engineers Daniel J. O’Conor and Herbert A. Faber. They were searching for a substitute for the silicate mineral mica when they discovered laminate. The mica was used to insulate electrical parts. They called their discovery “for mica” meaning a replacement for the mica.
The brand’s website www.formica.com states that the company switched from industrial manufacturing to decorative in the 1930s and began making durable, cheap, pretty laminate surfaces for cafes, nightclubs, railway cars, and grandiose cruise ships. During World War II, the focus turned to supplying the military with products. From the 1950s to the present, focus shifted to national and international residential and commercial markets.
The Formica brand leads the world in both design and manufacture of materials for surfaces. To celebrate their 100th anniversary, they teamed up with design consultant Pentagram and Pentagram’s partner Abbott Miller to create a couple of mementos: a 12-pattern graphic collection on laminate called “Formica Forever” and a collection detailing the company’s history called “A Formica Laminate Anniversary Collection.”
In the 1900s, aluminum cookware began replacing the cast iron version. But their unsightly blackening from coal-fired stoves proved difficult to clean. A solution was soon discovered by a cookware salesman and his jeweler brother-in-law. Together, they created a soap pad consisting of soap, fine steel wool, and jeweler’s rouge. With the help of lawyer Milton Loeb, they secured a patent for their creation in 1913. Loeb named the product Brillo from the Latin or Spanish word, depending on where researched, for bright. He was given a share in the company for his services. In the 1930s, the company discovered a way to put the soap directly into the pads.
In 1921, the Brillo Manufacturing Company was moved from Brooklyn, New York to London, Ohio. In 2010, they were purchased by Armaly Brands. Today, in addition to soap pads, the company manufactures Brillo Estracell sponges. Armaly plans to celebrate their milestone birthday by creating special keepsake packaging, holding contests, and other events.
T-shirts were created by the U.S. Navy in 1913 for sailors to wear under their itchy uniforms. In 1938, the Sears Company sold t-shirts, which they called sailor shirts, for 24 cents. They promoted them as inner and outer wear. In 1948, the U.S. Army created its own version called the quarter sleeve.
Invention of screen printing technology in the late 1950s and ‘60 such as Plastisol Ink and multi-color machines enabled the creation of t-shirts with graphics and colorful designs. In 1966, tie-dye tees were introduced and popularized at the Woodstock Music Festival. Iron-ons came in 1978, allowing people to make their own designs. Simultaneously, Corporate America and the sports world realized that tees were a perfect advertising medium.
The 1980s saw a more personalized t-shirt with people expressing their individuality. Then in 1991, Genera Sportswear Company of Seattle, Washington now General Global, created the Hypercolor t-shirt: heat-sensitive pigments that change colors in accordance with body temperature. The design of this iconic piece of clothing continued to expand in the 2000s with the creation of the deep V t-shirt in 2005.
The world’s largest t-shirt with dimensions 281 feet times 181 feet was created by the Gildan Brand in 2011. And according to the Guinness World Record, the record for the “Most T-shirts worn at once” was set by Sanath Bandara of Sri Lanka in December 2011. He wore a total of 257 tees.
Boston Children’s Museum
The final centenarian of 2013 is the Boston Children’s Museum, originally known as The Children’s Museum of Boston. On August 1st, it will celebrate its 100th birthday. The museum was founded in 1913 by a group of public school science teachers. It was the second children’s museum in the United States (the first was New York’s Brooklyn Children’s Museum). The educators felt that children needed a fun place to learn about science and other cultures.
Early exhibits included dolls, birds, shells, and minerals. They were displayed in protective glass cases and could not be touched. When Michael Spock, son of Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous pediatrician and author of the 1946 bestseller Common Sense Book of Baby and Childcare, became the museum’s director, he made it a more interactive and visitor-friendly environment for both children and parents. The tradition continued over the decades: Play Space for younger children, programs on fitness and health, community outreach, becoming more eco-friendly in 2007, creating a ‘Countdown to kindergarten’ exhibit in 2010 to prepare younger kids for school, and this year’s work to include performing arts. The Boston Children’s Museum currently boasts a 50,000-item collection.
In 1936, the museum moved to a house near Jamaicaway. It moved again in 1979 to the Boston Waterfront where it is still located.
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