On This Date, January 5th
1. 1933: Construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge
It was on this date in 1933 that construction finally began on the now world famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. The idea of building a suspension bridge to span the San Francisco Bay dates back to 1869 but it wasn’t until 1916 that an actual proposal took root. A journalist for the San Francisco Bulletin by the name of James Wilkins came up an idea that would span nearly 3,000 feet across the bay, but the problem was it was estimated to cost over $100 million. This is when Michael O’Shaughnessy, the city engineer, began searching for bridge builders to see if it was possible to be built for less. He made contact with an engineer based out of Chicago named Joseph Strauss who felt it absolutely could be done. Eventually, the two men came up with a plan that would build a bridge that would span a total of 4,000 feet while only costing around $25-30 million. However, there were many people still opposed to the idea and it took a few years to get the program off the ground.
2. 1972: President Nixon authorized the space shuttle program
President Richard Nixon has quite a few bad things associated with his time served in the oval office, but on this day in 1972 he did something good when he signed the bill authorizing the funds for the development of the space shuttle. This was a major step forward in the space program because the shuttle would be reusable versus the single-use rocket-propelled capsules used up to that point. This would also allow the astronauts to spend more time in space as well as reducing the overall cost of the missions. The bill Nixon signed was authorized $5.5 million with ultimately led the launching of Columbia, the first space shuttle, in 1981.
3. 1998: Congressman and former music superstar Sonny Bono killed in skiing accident
It was on this date in 1998 that Sonny Bono was killed while skiing at the Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe, California. Bono was an experienced skier of almost 20 years or more and was out on vacation with his fourth wife, Mary, and their son and daughter. He decided to go out for a few runs by himself and when his family didn’t hear from him after a few hours they filed a missing person report with the ski patrol and law enforcement. Later that evening his body was found in a heavily wooded area with severe and fatal head injuries. Officials determined Bono had skied into the trees for what’s called a “tree run”, which is a common thing for experienced skiers because it’s usually where you can get into the untouched snow. There he must’ve struck a tree at full speed to cause such horrific injuries. Sonny Bono was a hit sensation when he was singing and acting with his third wife, the lovely Cher, and then later left the entertainment industry and eventually became a United States Congressman and California lawmaker.