THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Learn About 10 Historic Times The United States Pioneered Innovation!
Published on January 29, 2024
Credit: Luke Michael
Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? What about the first time you went to a zoo? Maybe you have memories of your first family trip or your first day of school.
There is always a first time for everything , even for those things that feel like they have been around since the world began.
The history of the United States also has its own firsts. Today, we're diving into 10 historic firsts for our country, state by state. Ready for a trip down memory lane?
Credit: Quino Al
The rise of cell phones has allowed us to store and securely organize the contact numbers of acquaintances.
Yet, in the pre-smartphone era, phone books were the solution. Remember those? They were these large volumes containing names, addresses, and phone numbers of the city residents.
Although today it may seem surreal that anyone in the city can have your information, back in the day, they were highly useful tools. And the first state to have one was Connecticut.
The very first phone book was a humble cardboard published in 1878 in New Haven, Connecticut. This pioneer edition listed only 50 individuals, businesses, and offices equipped with telephones.
Credit: Joey Kyber
Today, we take electric street lighting for granted, but there was a first time for it, too. Electric urban lighting made its debut towards the end of the 19th century . Before that, the streets were either covered in darkness or illuminated by oil lamps.
Although there had been other demonstrations of illumination by electricity before, the real change came in 1880 , when Wabash, Indiana, became the first U.S. city to be mostly illuminated by electricity. Of course, the event surprised residents and filled the newspapers with the bright news.
Credit: Simon Fitall
Can you imagine the world without airplanes? Well, it was like that for a long time. Back in the old days, people traveled only by land or sea, and the idea of soaring through the skies was reserved for dreamers.
Luckily for everyone, things changed at the beginning of the 20th century when the Wright brothers put their aircraft to work in 1903 . They made the first successful flight in North Carolina , forever changing the course of our world.
Credit: Priscilla Gyamfi
In the nation's early years, presidential inaugurations weren't like they are today. They didn't even happen in the same place as they do now.
George Washington , the first president of the United States, delivered his first address in 1789 at Federal Hall in New York City . At the time, the Big Apple was the capital of the country, holding the title until 1790 when it passed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Finally, the last move was in 1800, making Washington, D.C. the definitive site of the nation's capital, where it proudly stands today.
Credit: Absar Pathan
Christmas is that magical time when people worldwide come together for family festivities. But that was not always the case in the United States.
Alabama was a pioneer, becoming the first state to declare Christmas a legal holiday in 1836. That's a long time ago, right? The last state took its time to join the party: It wasn't until 1907, 71 years later, that Oklahoma became the final state to officially recognize Christmas as a legal holiday.
Credit: Pedro Lastra
Skyscrapers dominate the skyline of nearly every major city today. Although these imposing structures continue to captivate us with their presence, we have become used to them being part of the urban landscape.
But there was also a time for the first skyscraper. The Home Insurance Building came to revolutionize the heights of Chicago, Illinois, in 1885 . There are no exact or definitive definitions of what constitutes a skyscraper per se, but the Home Insurance Building proudly claims to be the world's first one .
Hats off to Illinois for reaching out and touching the sky!
Credit: Melody Ayres-Griffiths
Today's instant messages would seem only the dream of madmen in 1844, when Morse sent the first telegraph message from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland, making the Old Line State the first state to receive one.
Before the telegraph, communication took weeks or months to reach its destination, slowing down all interactions and operations. Morse's telegraph message read, "What hath God wrought?" and forever changed world communication.
Credit: Brett Jordan
Wherever you go, you'll probably find a McDonald's nearby. It's a global phenomenon, with very few corners of the world untouched by those golden arches. Burgers, fries, and Happy Meals become a staple in the daily life of America. But 80-odd years ago**, before 1940, things were very different.**
The first McDonald's opened as a drive-in in 1940 by brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald in San Bernardino, California . Eight years later, this humble spot evolved into a fully developed restaurant, and its growth since then is history.
If you ever get the chance to travel back in time, going to 1939 isn't the best option, as you wouldn't be able to enjoy a delicious Big Mac.
Credit: Marques Thomas
Back in 1950, Sam Walton , the visionary behind Walmart , purchased and launched his inaugural store in Oklahoma. However, the Walmart we know today was yet to be born.
The first lucky state to have a Walmart was Arkansas . The Walmart chain began in 1962 as a modest store in the city of Rogers. No one could have expected the colossal and rapid growth that awaited.
By 1968, Walmart had set its roots in Oklahoma, and by the 1980s, it had spread throughout the southern United States as well.
Credit: Luis Melendez
Saving the best for last, Mississippi boasts a groundbreaking achievement. The Magnolia State proudly holds the title of being the location of the world's first lung transplant. This historic event happened in 1963 when Dr. James D. Hardy accomplished the remarkable feat, propelling scientific progress and improving human health.
Such an event occurred only 61 years ago! That demonstrates the incredible speed at which technology and human knowledge advance, making human life better and better.
Cheers to Mississippi!