What Was Happening On January 21, 1909
I picked a random day 103 years ago to see what was in the news. I read the entire New York Times newspaper for Thursday, January 21, 1909 to come up with the some interesting stories and unusual items. The paper was only 18 pages! The major differences compared to current newspapers: few photographs accompany any story and articles of different types are interspersed on the same page, so the news is not sectioned by category. I have put the article summary in blue and my comments are in black italics.
Crowds flocked to the Auto Show at Madison Square Garden. Lots of famous people showed up including Colonel John Jacob Astor and Mr. & Mrs. George J. Gould. There was a selection in gasoline powered and electric cars on display.
Not many people realize that in the early days of automobile manufacturing gasoline and electric cars were battling for market share. Steam cars were also an option, but were left unmentioned in the article. Before 1909 over 600 companies in the United States had at one time started manufacturing automobiles and half of them had already run out of business. An estimated 200,000 automobiles were in use in the United States according to the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. What would our current energy situation be like today had the electric car won the battle for vehicular supremacy over the gasoline powered engine?
The runner-up for sales in each year (by half as much) were in order: Mercedes, Fiat and Panhard?!
The Conference Committee of the Independent Telephone Officers to meet the following week on plans to build a long distance telephone line from Boston to Omaha. The cost: $5,000,000 immediate expenditure and $30,000,000 over the next four years! Continue reading