Building a castle is a monumental undertaking any way you look at it. But constructing an entire castle pebble by pebble, stone by stone, using only materials found while making your mail route? That’s absolutely inconceivable. Yet that is exactly what Ferdinand Cheval did, and more than 100 years later his pebble castle still stands, drawing tourists from around the world to Hauterives, France.
While some of today’s Tour de France cyclists engage in vices to enhance their performance, premier cyclists of yesteryear took part in activities that would probably hinder their athleticism, including champagne and…
April 15th marks 150 years since the United States lost one of its greatest sons. Abraham Lincoln’s greatest accomplishments are well-documented in history books and film, but there’s much more to the man than his stovepipe hat.
1. Before Lincoln fought the Confederacy, he was beating people up in the wrestling ring. One of his most famous matches took place in 1831 against an Illinois county champion and notorious bully named Jack Armstrong. Abe was able to defeat him with ease. In fact, of approximately 300 matches Lincoln only lost one match to a man named Hank Thompson, who Lincoln got to know while serving with the Illinois Volunteers during the Black Hawk Indian War. Such accomplishments did not go unnoticed: in 1992, Abraham Lincoln was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
While Helen Keller may be culturally synonymous with the success of young deafblind women at the turn of the 20th century, without a woman named Laura Bridgman, the world may never have known Keller’s story.
Bridgman was born in New Hampshire in 1829 to a poor farming family. When she was two, she developed scarlet fever. The illness was so severe that she lost all of her senses other than touch. With no vision, no hearing, no sense of smell and thus, a very depleted sense of taste, Bridgman’s sensory experience as a child was so limited that she had virtually no method of understanding, or communicating with, the world around her.
The First World War was not “the war to end all wars.” It was, instead, the beginning of the kind of modern mass violence that would scar the century. For the first time, the armies of Europe used such tools of slaughter as the flamethrower, poison gas, the tank, and war planes.
The war’s catalyst came in the summer of 1914, when Gavrilo Princip, a radicalized Yugoslav nationalist, fired two shots into a car in a Sarajevo side street, killing the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. In the following weeks, all knots of European diplomacy tightened, and a net of alliances dragged the continent into a war that would last for the next four years. 19 million people died, more than half of them civilians.
The gallery below offers a window into the fighting in Europe during the first truly modern war – a conflict that, whether we realize it or not, shaped the dimensions and norms of the world we live in today.