One of the nation’s enduring symbols, the Statue of Liberty, was dedicated on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor on this day in 1886. A gift from France, the statue’s full name is “Liberty Enlightening the World,” and is the work of sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. The statue was the first glimpse of America for more than 20 million immigrants who came through nearby Ellis Island, chiefly from Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Poland. In 1910, the year of the greatest influx, some 15 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born. Today, that figure is 13 percent, or around 40 million people. Just under half of the current foreign-born population comes from Latin America. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, October 27th. One of the great engineering achievements of New York City began operation on this date 109 years ago — as the city’s famous subway system was inaugurated amid speeches, bands, a ribbon-cutting, and throngs of riders. The original line was just over nine miles long and connected City Hall to West 145th Street. Today, the system has 230 miles of routes, with 468 stations. Each weekday, nearly 5.5 million people ride the subway. Among large cities of the world, the New York system is the only one to run 24 hours a day all year long. Across the U.S., 5 percent of workers use public transportation — including subways — to get to their jobs. More than three-quarters of us drive to work alone. About 10 percent ride in car pools. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, October 26th. The chore of doing laundry has plagued households since the advent of clothing and the desire for cleanliness. American ingenuity was brought to bear on the problem on this date in 1858, when Hamilton Smith patented a rotary washing machine. But it was hand-driven and proved to be hard on both the operator and clothes. People continued to use the tub and washboard, even after the first electric washer came along in 1908. A few years later, the agitator-type machine appeared and gained immediate popularity. But people still had to feed clothes through a wringer by hand — an often dangerous job. Finally, in the late 1930s, the fully automatic washer with a spin cycle went on sale. Today, over 101 million of the nation’s 130 million housing units have a washing machine. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.