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Good InfoGood News in History, March 20

Good News in History, March 20

205 years ago today, the Burlington Arcade opened in Piccadilly, London. It is one of the precursors of the mid-19th-century European shopping gallery and the modern shopping mall, and one of the oldest in Europe. The arcade was built in 1818 to the order of George Cavendish, on what had been the side garden of the old Burlington manor house and was reportedly to prevent passers-by throwing oyster shells and other rubbish over the wall of his home. READ more… (1819)

The north entrance of Burlington Arcade – CC BY-SA 2.0. Andrew Dunn

Burlington Arcade was built “for the sale of jewelry and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public”. However, it was also said to have been built so that the Lord’s wife could shop safely amongst other genteel ladies and gentlemen away from the busy, dirty, and crime-ridden open streets of London.

The arcade is patrolled by security guards called “beadles” in traditional uniforms that include top hats and frock coats. The original beadles were all former members of Lord George Cavendish’s regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars. The arcade maintains Regency decorum by banning singing, humming, hurrying, and “behaving boisterously”.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • The slavery novel, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was published (1852)
  • Fred Rogers, the musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister, who created and hosted the television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was born in Pennsylvania (1928)
  • The United States Senate ratified a peace treaty with Japan (1952)
  • Tunisia gained independence from France (1956)
  • John Lennon married Yoko Ono “in Gibraltar near Spain” (1969)
  • Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the 1,135-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (1985)
  • 22 states’ attorneys settled a lawsuit against the U.S. tobacco industry, whose officials admitted marketing cigarettes to teenagers and agreed to warn on every pack that smoking is addictive (1997)
  • Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of Britain completed the first nonstop hot-air balloon voyage around the world (1999)
  • After years of Cold War tension, President Barack Obama became first US president to visit Cuba since 1928, further instilling diplomacy between the two countries (2016)

9 years ago today, no doubt some lucky souls in the path of totality were able to see the 2015 solar eclipse that also fell on the date of the vernal equinox. Those able to watch the eclipse with their glasses would have noticed that the moon was 15% bigger, because this cosmic double turned into a triple off the right field wall, so to speak, because the moon was a supermoon.  

Drew Rae

The next time an eclipse will fall on the vernal equinox will be in 2034, and is actually a cyclical event that is not uncommon, cosmically speaking. In 2018, only those in the South Pacific were able to see the totality of a similar event when a supermoon blotted out the sun.

The moon’s orbit around Earth is not perfectly circular. When it reaches its nearest point, called perigee, the moon appears 15% larger. When this date corresponds to the new moon and a total solar eclipse, the effect is 15% more dramatic. (2015)

102 years ago today, the comedian/actor and writer Carl Reiner was born. From the Dick Van Dyke Show (which he created and wrote for) to a famous comedy bit, 2000 Year Old Man, Reiner collected 12 Emmys over his 70+ years in show business. Born in The Bronx, he was the father of actor–director Rob Reiner and best friends with Mel Brooks. In 2000, Carl was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The next year, he began playing Saul in the film series Ocean’s Eleven—and he published his memoirs.

Photo by Alan Light, CC license

Reiner was prolific as an author considering his extensive film and television career (which includes watching television,) and penned two dozen books including a children’s series, and a series of humorous memoirs entitled I Remember Me, I Just Remembered, and What I Forgot to Remember. Those fans of Jerry Seinfeld’s show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee will know that Reiner regularly watched television (always Jeopardy when they eat) with his friend Mel Brooks—almost every night from 1950 on.

For two men who couldn’t possibly take themselves less seriously, one can be sure that the conditions in which Reiner passed away, minutes after watching television with Mel Brooks in late June 2020, couldn’t have been more fitting for a comedy legend. WATCH the tribute…and a coffee break with Seinfeld… (1922)


108 years ago today, Albert Einstein published his “General Theory of Relativity” in a German scientific journal, after wrestling with it for nearly a decade.

Einstein_1921_by_F_Schmutzer-wikipediaHe finally provided the answer to a scientific problem about the relationships between space, time, matter, energy and gravity, and totally changed Newtonian physics in the process. As a consequence of Einstein’s equations, it became clear that time and space comprise a single continuum, whose shape can be bent or warped by gravitation.

What is time dilation? WATCH the short animated video that 5 million people have viewed, to see how Einstein first came up with the idea on a moving tram speeding away from a clock tower—intuiting that time slows down in a moving vehicle… (1916)


74 years ago, Juilliard-trained actor William Hurt was born.

2008 photo (right) by GabboT, CC license

After making his film debut in the 1980 sci-fi film Altered States, for which he won a Golden Globe nomination, he starred with Kathleen Turner in the neo-noir movie Body Heat. He soon won an Oscar for Best Actor, in Kiss of the Spider Woman—and received two Academy Award nominations for his 1986 lead performance in Children of a Lesser God and Broadcast News in 1987 (pictured left).

Often appearing on stage, Hurt won his first Tony Award nomination for Hurlyburly. He earned his fourth Academy Award nomination for A History of Violence and won acclaim in Syriana, Mr. Brooks, and (my favorite) The Big Chill. He passed away last week.

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