50 YEARS AGO:Tea for Tots
Animator and amusement park mogul Walt Disney keeps the tea cups—and kids—spinning when he patents the design for the Mad Tea Party ride at Disneyland, July 9, 1957. The cups and saucers—designed by Disney and collaborator Bruce Bushman—are inspired by Disney's animated feature, Alice in Wonderland (1951); the mechanics are based on earlier rides. A park draw since 1955, by 2007 the "unbirthday" ride makes more than 115 million tea partyers dizzy.
100 YEARS AGO: The Age of Folly
Florenz Ziegfeld exposes a bevy of bathing beauties to New York theatergoers when his Follies of 1907 opens July 8. The 13-act revue's sketchy plot involves such characters as Pocahontas, Teddy Roosevelt and Enrico Caruso, but like the Parisian Folies Bergère on which it is modeled, it's the showgirls who keep new editions of Ziegfeld's Follies running until 1931. Ziegfeld dies in 1932, age 65.
130 YEARS AGO: Tennis, Anyone?
Spencer Gore, 27, bests William Marshall 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to win the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club's first championship in the new game of lawn tennis in Wimbledon is international, and today the world's most prestigious tennis tournament draws top players from some 60 countries.
160 YEARS AGO: First Among Many
Clerks hand cut the first United States postage stamps, which go on sale in New York City on July 1, 1847. The 5- and 10-cent stamps, which feature Ben Franklin, the nation's first postmaster general, and George Washington, begin to unify the rapidly expanding country's unruly postage system. More than 130 other Franklin stamps follow, but Washington holds the record, at 305.
175 YEARS AGO: To the Source!
Explorer and ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft leads a search for the headwaters of the Mississippi in July 1832, and finds them in a Minnesota lake he dubs Itasca, a contraction of veritas and caput (true head). Though history credits Schoolcraft with "discovering" the river's source, he has help: local Ojibwa Indians give him detailed directions. His later writings on Native culture are a source for Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha." Schoolcraft dies in 1864.
320 YEARS AGO: Apple of His Eye
"Nature does nothing in vain," writes English physicist Isaac Newton in his masterwork Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
(Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), published July 1687. His explanations of nature's behavior, the laws of motion and universal gravitation, are the basis for the subsequent science of mechanics. Newton is knighted in 1705 and dies in 1727, age 84.