Good News in History, March 15

130 years ago Jesse W. Reno invented the first working escalator and received his patent on this day. An engineering graduate from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Reno was propelled into the idea while on campus, where he had to climb 300 steps to get to his Chi Phi fraternity house.

He produced the first working escalator and installed it alongside the Old Iron Pier at Coney Island, New York City in 1896. Referred to as the ‘inclined elevator’ or ‘endless conveyor’, the device was an inclined belt with cast-iron slats or cleats on the surface for traction, and traveled along a 25 degree incline. A few months later, the same prototype was used for a month-long trial period on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Reno eventually joined forces with Otis (the elevator company) and retired once he had sold his patents. (1892)

ZKang123, CC license

MORE Good News on this Day in History:

  • Cretan revolutionaries announced the re-unification of Crete with Greece (1905)
  • Actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were married; her fifth husband, but her true love (1964)
  • In the midst of the U.S. Civil Rights struggle in the South and crisis in Selma, President Lyndon Johnson told the Congress, “We shall overcome,” and called for a new Voting Rights Act (1965)
  • The passengers and crew of a Pakistan Airways plane were released after they were held hostage for nearly two weeks in Syria (1981)
  • The first domain name was registered——to a computer systems company in Cambridge, Massachusetts at a time when very few websites were setting up, with fewer than 15,000 .com domains in the next 7 years even bothering to register (1985)
  • Mikhail Gorbachev was elected the first executive president of the Soviet Union (1990)
  • Yoko Ono unveiled a seven foot bronze statue of John Lennon overlooking the check-in hall of Liverpool’s John Lennon airport, a re-branding that also features a sketch of Lennon’s face with the words “Above Us Only Skies” (2002)

Happy 46th Birthday to singer–songwriter, record producer, voice actor, fashion entrepreneur and NASA enthusiast

2012 photo by Glenn Francis of

Best known as a rapper in Black Eyed Peas, he also became a coach on The Voice UK, and has produced artists like Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, David Guetta, U2, Rihanna, Usher, and Justin Timberlake. (1975)

11 years ago today, following a devastating earthquake in Haiti, Fashion For Relief began an online auction with donated items worn on the runway at London’s Fashion Week by some of the biggest celebrities. Organized by supermodel Naomi Campbell, the auctions raised well over £1 million for Haitian families in need of health care.

fashion-for-relief-Naomi Campbell-graphicSince 2005, when Fashion For Relief was founded by Campbell to mobilize funds for Hurricane Katrina victims, the events and related auctions have raised £15 million for those most affected by natural disasters and in need. Watch a video on Good News Network from the Haiti relief fashion show. (2010)

And, 173 years ago today, the ‘People’s Spring’ unfolded in Hungary, as a band of youth sparked a mostly non-violent revolution that, in a few short days, won back freedom and independence from the Habsburg royalty who ruled them from Austria. Medical students, philosophers, and writers like Mór Jókai, joined the famed poet Sándor Petőfi near Budapest, as he raised his voice in a local café declaring a list of 12 demands—and reciting his fiery poem, the “National Song”.

The conservative Austrian Empire had moved too far from the ideals that illuminated the Age of Enlightenment—it restricted freedom of the press, clamped down on university activities, and banned certain associations and groups.

The determined reformers left the coffee shop, seized a large print shop and duplicated the list for distribution. The growing crowd moved to the National Museum, and seized the University and City Hall. About 20 thousand crossed the Danube to the doorstep of the Imperial Governing Council demanding the abolition of censorship and release of any political prisoners—and won the release of a journalist.

The same day a sympathetic parliamentary delegation carrying notable citizens and 72 officials boarded two steamships for Vienna, carrying their demands to the Throne. In just two days, the group returned back to Pozsony carrying with them triumphant news that Emperor Ferdinand V had buckled under the pressure and signed their reforms. Kossuth, the man who dubbed their trip the “Voyage of the Argonauts”, knelt and exclaimed “We bring to our country… Independence and Greatness.” As a result, a new Hungarian Parliament, with Lajos Batthyány as its first Prime Minister was established and the government passed a sweeping package of reforms called the “April laws”, creating the basis for a liberal democracy. March 15 has since become a national holiday in Hungary.

READ the 6-stanza poem that inspired the rebels… (1848)

SHARE the Memories, Milestones, and Music…

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