History in Pics

Channel Tunnel

When both sides of the channel tunnel first met in 1990.

The Channel Tunnel (nicknamed Chunnel) is a 50.45-kilometre (31.35 miles) rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent, in the United Kingdom, with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, near Calais in northern France, beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is 75 m (250 ft) deep below the sea bed, and 115 m (380 ft) below sea level.

A two-inch (50-mm) diameter pilot hole allowed the service tunnel to break through without ceremony on 30 October 1990. On 1 December 1990, Englishman Graham Fagg and Frenchman Phillippe Cozette broke through the service tunnel with the media watching.

Woodrow Wilson

President Woodrow Wilson asking Congress to declare war on the Germany, April 2, 1917.

The USA didn’t really have an issue with German hegemony in the American sphere of influence, but rather the fact that Germany had been practicing unrestricted submarine warfare. They were sinking American cargo ships and even passenger liners in the Atlantic.

Germany had also sent a telegraph to Mexico known as the Zimmerman Telegram, which promised Mexico swaths of land in the American South-West if they took up arms against the Americans.

At this point, as the executive leader, the American president had to react with war. Plus, a fresh army on the Western Front is arguably the reason why the allies lasted long enough for an armistice. Had the Americans not showed up, Germany was poised to actually win the war. Especially since the Russians had pulled out of the war by late 1917.

Even before entering the war, U.S. was providing a lot of support to Britain. They were favoring Britain from the onset far more than the Germans. They had many ships with their flag on them providing resources to the British. The Germans saw these ships, knew what was on there and where they were going.

Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa stolen from the Louvre, 1911.

In 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia perpetrated what has been described as the greatest art theft of the 20th century. It was a police theory that the former Louvre worker hid inside the museum on a Sunday, August 20, knowing the museum would be closed the following day. But, according to Peruggia’s interrogation in Florence after his arrest, he entered the museum on Monday, August 21 around 7 am, through the door where the other Louvre workers were entering. He said he wore one of the white smocks that museum employees customarily wore and was indistinguishable from the other workers. When the Salon CarrĂ©, where the Mona Lisa hung, was empty, he lifted the painting off the four iron pegs that secured it to the wall and took it to a nearby service staircase. There, he removed the protective case and frame. Some people report that he concealed the painting (which Leonardo painted on wood) under his smock. But Peruggia was only 5’3″, and the Mona Lisa measures approximately 21″ x 30″, so it would not fit under a smock worn by someone his size. Instead, he said he took off his smock and wrapped it around the painting, tucked it under his arm, and left the Louvre through the same door he had entered.

Peruggia hid the painting in his apartment in Paris. Supposedly, when police arrived to search his apartment and question him, they accepted his alibi that he had been working at a different location on the day of the theft. After keeping the painting hidden in a trunk in his apartment for two years, Peruggia returned to Italy with it. He kept it in his apartment in Florence, Italy but grew impatient, and was finally caught when he contacted Alfredo Geri, the owner of an art gallery in Florence. Geri’s story conflicts with Peruggia’s, but it was clear that Peruggia expected a reward for returning the painting to what he regarded as its “homeland”. Geri called in Giovanni Poggi, director of the Uffizi Gallery, who authenticated the painting. Poggi and Geri, after taking the painting for “safekeeping”, informed the police, who arrested Peruggia at his hotel. After its recovery, the painting was exhibited all over Italy with banner headlines rejoicing its return and then returned to the Louvre in 1913.

This painting only became popular after it was stolen. The Louvre took it as an opportunity to market the painting. It wasn’t really seen as some masterpiece before the theft, but while it was gone writers told stories of a “stolen masterpiece,” and some even told lies about the painting to get people interested. Once it was found, they paraded it around for several weeks before bringing it back. Some even believe the man who stole it (a Louvre worker) was paid by the museum to steal it so that they could do their little PR stunt.

American Soldier

American soldier poses with captured German weaponry, 1944-45.

In the background is an M20 armored utility car, a turretless version of the M8 armored car used as a transport, command, and reconnaissance vehicle in cavalry, tank destroyer, and armored units; many high-ranking officers such as General George S. Patton also used them as command vehicles. 3,971 were built between July 1943 and June 1945.

Thiers, France

Thiers, France (Photochrom), 1890-1900.

Thiers is an actually a medieval town. Its foundation goes back to the 10th century. It is the world capital of knife manufacturing thanks to the centuries old cutlery traditions.

This neighborhood is actually called ‘Le Moutier’, and the ramparts you see in the background are the former fortifications (back in the Middle Ages) of the higher part of town.


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