Connecticut is not exactly known for its grand, cosmopolitan cities. Instead, our state is largely a battleground between the behemoth metropolises of New York and Boston. Believe it or not, the rivalry between these two East Coast staples runs much deeper than the Yankees/Red Sox debate.
This week in history, we celebrate the anniversary of major events in both locations. Whether you are a devout New Yorker or a proud Bostonian, both cities have had immense impacts on the development of American society, specifically in the region we call home.
Let’s begin in the Big Apple.
On Oct. 28, 1886, 134 years ago, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated.
President Grover Cleveland was the keynote speaker at the ceremony on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor, proclaiming the statue’s full name, “Liberty Enlightening the World.” Originally a gift from France to celebrate the United States’ Centennial, the 200 crates of copper were shipped across the Atlantic to build the statue we would come to know as “Lady Liberty.”
The event was attended by both French and American dignitaries, with thousands of patriotic New Yorkers celebrating its completion in Lower Manhattan. Years later, the Statue of Liberty would grow to be a beacon of hope for the more than 12 million immigrants to step foot on U.S. soil at the gates of Ellis Island.
On Oct. 27, 1904, 116 years ago, the New York City subway opened.
With the city’s booming population, the municipal New York government faced a tremendous problem: What can be done to alleviate the heavily congested city streets? While cars would not become popular for another few decades, all American cities were plagued with heavy traffic from wagons, carriages, street cars, trollies and trains. New York officials decided to look down for a solution.
Boston had already implemented the nation’s first underground transit system, copying the model used in London. New York decided it could do better. The New York subway system was much larger than Boston’s, connecting all main centers of Manhattan Island. At five cents a ride, even poor New Yorkers could afford the trip, encouraging its usage to this day.
Now let’s head up the coast to Beantown.
On Oct. 28, 1636, 384 years ago, Harvard University was established by the government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
In a vote conducted by the “Great and General Court of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England,” a total of 400 British pounds were allocated to the construction of a school to be called Harvard, establishing the first higher education institution in the American colonies. The college was named after John Harvard, an English minister, who donated his extensive library and property to the school on his deathbed.
While I’m sure many of you know-it-alls out there would love to point out that Harvard is in fact in Cambridge, not Boston, I’d argue that Boston wouldn’t be Boston without Harvard. After all, Harvard established Boston as a center of education, prompting the founding of countless other colleges that all rank incredibly well both nationally and internationally. And, of course, what would the Boston accent be without, “Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd?”
On Oct. 27, 2004, 16 years ago, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series championship since 1918, ending the “Curse of the Bambino.”
In 1920, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee traded the legendary Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for a whopping $125,000 as well as a $300,000 loan. This money was used to pay off Fenway Park’s mortgage, and ironically also produce a Broadway musical.
Before 1920, the Sox had won five championships while the Yanks hadn’t won a single championship in the franchise’s history. Once Babe Ruth became a Bronx Bomber, the Yankees’ luck had reversed, earning a total of 26 World Series titles during Boston’s drought.
In an almost effortless 2004 World Series win, the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals, winning the first four games of the championship. After first baseman Doug Mientkeiwicz made the final inning’s third out with time to spare, the team flooded the field, the audience went wild and the rest is history.