#TodayInHistory – December 8
December 8 – Some important events on this day.
1326 👉🏼 Daitokuji temple, Rinzai line, established in Kyoto by Daito Kokushi
1609 👉🏼 Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan opens its reading room, second public library in Europe
1659 👉🏼 Mexican border town Ciudad Juárez is founded by Fray García de San Francisco.
1813 👉🏼 Ludwig van Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A, premieres in Vienna with Beethoven conducting
1863 👉🏼 Abraham Lincoln issues his Amnesty Proclamation and plan for Reconstruction of the South
1863 👉🏼 2,500 reported killed as result of fire at Jesuit Church of La Compana, Santiago, Chile
1864 👉🏼 The Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is finally opened in Bristol, England, 5 years after his death
1881 👉🏼 Vienna’s Ring Theater destroyed by fire, kills between 640-850.
The luxurious, ornate theater hosted the most popular performances of the time. On this day, it was featuring the second night of Jacques Offenbach’s opera Les Contes d’Hoffman, which was proving popular with both the wealthy and middle class of Vienna. According to the custom of the time, the wealthy theater patrons who sat up front near the stage did not arrive until the last minute so the two balconies at the Ring filled up first. It was about 6:45 p.m. when a stagehand took a long-arm igniter to light the row of gas lights above the stage. He inadvertently also lit some prop clouds that were hanging over the stage.
The flames quickly hit the stage curtain, but the theater’s established fire procedures were not followed. The theater’s iron fire curtain, used to restrict fire, was not lowered, nor were available water hoses used immediately. Worse, the stage managers panicked and shut off the gas totally, cutting off light in the theater. At this point, situation dissolved into chaos. The balconies became clogged as the exits jammed. A fire brigade brought ladders, but they were too short to reach even the first balcony. Despite an attempt to use a curtain to create a net, some people jumped from the balconies, not only killing themselves but also crushing people on the ground floor.
Finally, safety nets were brought in that allowed people to jump from the balconies, saving as many as 100 people, according to witnesses. The Royal Family of Austria arrived at the theater as the disaster was ending and immediately began collecting relief funds for the victims and their families. Crown Prince Rudolf was particularly emotional, crying upon seeing the hundreds of lifeless bodies. The estimated death toll was somewhere between 620 and 850 people.
The remainder of the structure was demolished and replaced with the Suhnhof building. This memorial was destroyed when Vienna was bombed during World War II.
1941 👉🏼 US and Britain declare war on Japan, US enters World War II
1941 👉🏼 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers “Day of Infamy” speech to US Congress a day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor
1953 👉🏼 Dwight D. Eisenhower gives his “Atoms for Peace” speech at the United Nations in New York
1965 👉🏼 Pope Paul VI signs 2nd Vatican council
1966 👉🏼 US and USSR sign treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in outer space
1980 👉🏼 John Lennon, a former member of the Beatles, the rock group that transformed popular music in the 1960s, is shot and killed by an obsessed fan in New York City.
1982 👉🏼 Norman Mayer holds Washington Monument hostage, demanding an end to nuclear weapons. Is killed by police after 10 hrs (he had no explosives)
1992 👉🏼 Galileo’s nearest approach to Jupiter (303 km)
2004 👉🏼 Cuzco Declaration is signed in Cuzco, Peru, establishing the Union of South American Nations
2019 👉🏼 Polar explorers Mike Horn and Børge Ousland complete an 1,800 km (1,118 miles) journey on drifting ice in darkness in the Arctic