39 Peculiar Facts About US Cities You Probably Didn’t Know – Part 3

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A giant ''WELCOME TO CLEVELAND'' sign on a rooftop in the flight path of a Milwaukee airport has been causing “panic and outrage” to passengers arriving by air for over 37 years. The creator’s reasoning is “Living in the world is not a dress rehearsal. You better have fun with it.”

2. A Canadian hitchhiking robot that relied on the kindness of strangers to travel from place to place had its arms and head ripped off after one day in Philadelphia, having traveled peacefully around Canada for 26 days.

3. In 1958, as an experiment, Bank of America mailed 60,000 residents of Fresno, California a small plastic card with a $500 credit line. Bank of America figured if it failed, there'd be no media coverage because it was in Fresno. The experiment was hugely successful and the program became Visa.

4. The city of Chicago was raised over 4 feet with screw jacks in the 19th century in order to install the first sewer system in the US.

5. The Great California flood of 1862 submerged Sacramento under 10 feet of water and turned California’s Central Valley into a vast inland sea spanning 300 miles long, 20 miles wide and 30 feet deep. It killed thousands, bankrupted the state and this historically happens every 200 years.

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6Boston Coffee shortage

Boston Coffee shortage

In Boston, during a shortage of coffee and sugar in 1777, a crowd of over 100 angry women marched to a wealthy merchant’s warehouse, demanded the keys, and grabbed him by the neck when he refused. They opened the doors, loaded up carts with coffee, and left.

7. In 2000, an Atlanta area sheriff named Sidney Dorsey ordered a hit on a rival (Derwin Brown in picture) that defeated him in an election. The hit was then carried out by two deputies who were promised promotions.

8. Downtown Seattle actually sits on top of the original city from the 1800s. It was rebuilt on top of approximately 20-foot high walled tunnels following a great fire, in order to prevent floods from high tide and sewage. You can go underground to see the original city remnants.

9. A Las Vegas mental hospital once used commercial buses to “dump” more than 1,500 psychiatric patients in 48 states over five years.

10. New York’s underground gay bars of the 1960s (including the Stonewall Inn) were actually created and supported by the Mafia. It was illegal to be gay. The mob paid off local precincts to keep them from doing raids.

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11Cartier sunglasses

Cartier sunglasses

Cartier sunglasses (which can go for $2650 and up) are a status symbol in Detroit. Detroit Police estimate 9 murders, 17 non-fatal shootings, and 2158 robberies related to the glasses between '12 and '16.

12. Kansas City blatantly ignored the alcohol prohibition. You could buy booze a few blocks down from the police station. They got away with it scot-free for all 13 years (1920 to 1933).

13. Nashville Zoo is located on property that was once a 300-acre slave holding farm. When construction for the zoo began in 1997, this graveyard was not disturbed. It was only in 2013 did the zoo petition to have the bodies exhumed, revealing 9 to 30 African-Americans buried there.

14. Philadelphia’s mayors were initially unpaid, and often strongly objected to being selected, sometimes opting to pay a large fine rather than serve.

15. In 1980, 4 FBI agents went to the Census Bureau’s Colorado Springs office with warrants but were forced to leave. Courts upheld that no agency, including the FBI, has access to Census data.

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161977 Miami snow

1977 Miami snow

When it snowed for the first recorded time in Miami in 1977 a meteorologist initially thought it was a coke-drop that had gone wrong, until realizing that the flakes were indeed snow.

17. In 1959, an experimental nuclear reactor meltdown in Simi Valley (35 miles from Los Angeles) released an estimated 458 times more radiation than the Three Mile Island incident. The site remains radioactive to this day, which is surrounded by 500,000 people within 10 miles.

18. The 10th tallest pyramid in the world is a Bass Pro Shop in Memphis, Tennessee.

19. A contractor won a tender to rebuild part of the MacArthur Maze interchange in San Francisco with a bid of just over $876,000, about a third of the projected cost. By completing the rebuild more than a month ahead of schedule, the contractor pocketed a $5 million bonus.

20. In Las Vegas during the 1950s, Casinos offered “Atomic Tourism” in which guests could watch atomic bombs be tested in the desert as a form of entertainment.

21Rain maker

Rain maker

In 1915, San Diego hired a “rain maker” who used a secret mix of chemicals to “attract rain” for $10,000, payable if he filled their reservoir. It rained for most of January, destroying bridges, dams, and causing 20 deaths.

22. A 2 month-old baby boy named Ernest was raffled off at the 1909 World’s Fair in Seattle. No one claimed him with the winning ticket, and it is unclear what happened to him.

23. While most air traffic communications around the world use the NATO phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta, etc), Atlanta doesn't. Taxiways, Gates, and others including a 'D' are referred to as 'Dixie', so as not to cause confusion with Delta Air Lines. Atlanta is Delta's hub.

24. Chicago’s Field Museum has 10 colonies of flesh-eating beetles, which live and work at the museum cleaning animal bones for display.

25. Prior to British troops firing on civilians at the Boston Massacre in 1770, they were pelted with oyster shells, ice, stones, sticks, and beaten with clubs by an unruly mob. At the trial, the soldiers were successfully defended by none other than John Adams and all were acquitted of murder.


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