1. 1985: The first Blockbuster Video store opened
It wasn’t that long ago that a Blockbuster Video store was located in almost every neighborhood in America and throughout the world. It was on this date in 1985 that the very first store opened in Dallas, Texas. At the time, most video stores were small “mom and pop” type stores that usually had a limited selection and very few copies of newly released films. So when Blockbuster opened its doors with more than 8,000 movies available movie buffs around the world found their new fix. It was so popular that within just two years there were more than 400 stores nationwide and by the early ’90s, that number shot up over 1,000 including stores overseas. As of 2008, there were said to be more than 8,000 stores throughout the world but this is when things started to decline. As streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime started to gain popularity DVD rentals started to decline. Then what I assume to be the “straw that broke the camels back” was when Redbox started to increase in popularity.
2. 1991: Oakland Firestorm
It was on this date in 1991 that a massive firestorm wreaked havoc on the hills of Oakland, California resulting in 25 casualties and more than 150 people severely injured. More than 1,500 acres of land was completely destroyed, including more than 3,000 homes and buildings that resulted in over $1.5 billion worth of damages. The fire first started on Buckingham Boulevard when firefighters thought they had extinguished a small brush fire. Apparently, the fire was smoldering under the pine needles and it took only a shift in wind direction to blow embers in every direction. That area had seen little rain leading up to the fire which meant that everything was very dry and perfect fuel for the fire. The blaze spread so fast that within an hour more than 800 buildings had been destroyed. Temperatures were said to be in excess of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit which made it extremely difficult for firefighters to fight the fire effectively. There were reports of entire homes being reduced to a pile of ashes in less than 10 minutes. There had been major fires break out in this area multiple times throughout history, resulting in people losing their homes, however as soon as the fire was put out those residents would rebuild in the same location. There must be something pretty special about living there in order to put up with danger on that level.
3. 1869: Work began on the Sutro Tunnel mining operation
It was on this date in 1869 that construction began on the massive tunneling project that would go by the name Sutro Tunnel. The project was the brainchild of the Prussian-born mining engineer, Adolph Sutro, who had made a name for himself by coming up with a way to extract silver from waste rock. At the time, the Comstock Lode located near Virginia City, Nevada was one of the largest and richest silver deposits in the world and soon became one of the most active mines in the country. However, as miners attempted to drill down they encountered large amounts of water that was extremely expensive to pump out. This is where the Sutro Tunnel came into play. Sutro realized that if they blasted a four-mile long horizontal tunnel through the neighboring Mt. Davidson, not only would the water be able to drain out, but it would also provide a way for mining companies to transport both workers and the ore they searched for at a significantly lower cost. The project would cost roughly $5 million to complet,e which was a ridiculous amount of money in 1869. But it was a drop in the bucket compared to the potential value of the mine. The Sutro Tunnel was incredibly successful at its intended use, and did everything Sutro said it would. He eventually sold that tunnel in 1879 for an undisclosed amount of money, but needless to say, he was a very wealthy man who later moved to San Francisco, where he became on of the largest landowners, and eventually the Mayor.