Eleven pairs of shoes were dangling over the New York City skyline. It was September of 1932, as the Great Depression was reaching its height. Unemployment and uncertainty could be felt throughout the city and the entire country. But on West 49th Street, a pillar of hope was under construction: the art deco skyscraper that would come to be known as 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The ironworkers constructing its 70 floors were taking a break, sharing boxed lunches and cigarettes. They appeared to be completely unfazed by the location of this break: a narrow steel beam jutting out into the sky, hundreds of feet above the pavement. But this iconic photo is not really what it appears to be.
What happens when anaesthesia fails
Donna Penner’s panic attacks began after a small medical procedure that she had before her 45th birthday. She was working in the accountancy department of a local trucking company and had just celebrated the wedding of one of her daughters. But she had been having severe bleeding and pain during her period, and her family physician had suggested that they investigate the causes with exploratory surgery. It should have been a routine procedure, but, for reasons that are far from clear, the general anaesthetic failed. Rather than lying in peaceful oblivion, she woke up just before the surgeon made the first cut into her abdomen.
The truth behind the Titanic’s sinking, according to a member of the crew
It was always thought the Titanic sank because its crew were sailing too fast and failed to see the iceberg before it was too late. But a book by the granddaughter of a surviving crew member tells a different story: it says the ship had plenty of time to miss the iceberg but the helmsman panicked and turned the wrong way. The revelation, which came out almost 100 years after the disaster, was kept secret by the family of the most senior officer to survive the disaster. Second Officer Charles Lightoller covered up the error in two inquiries because he was worried it would bankrupt the liner’s owners and put his colleagues out of job.
What life is like for a 21st-century trucker
For more than a decade, freight-haulers have been held up as the poster children of a supposedly inexorable fate: 2 to 3 million drivers out of a workforce of 3.5 million—one of the largest in the US—are slated to be sidelined by AI. Yet recent years have hardly borne out that doomy prophecy: The self-driving industry has been humbled by fatal crashes, scandals, a federal investigation, a pedestrian death, negligent homicide charges, and stillborn business promises. Meanwhile the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our supply chains and made us more dependent on truckers than ever—more beholden to an industry that, for all its hugeness, still can’t keep pace with our needs.
The secret history of the Great Dismal Swamp
From the late 17th century to the end of the Civil War, thousands of maroons—runaways who obtained their freedom by occupying remote and uninhabited regions—lived in relative secrecy throughout the 750-square-mile wilderness. No one is sure exactly how many people escaped enslavement within its confines, but this much is clear: The Great Dismal Swamp, an area regarded by colonial settlers as so inhospitable that its very air was once said to be toxic, was over multiple centuries home to the largest maroon community in the United States. For nearly all of its modern existence, the region’s multigenerational history of exploitation, brutality, and resistance has been largely hidden from view.
The Glasgow restaurant owner who invented chicken tikka masala
Many cooks have claimed that they were the ones who served it first, or that they knew a guy who knew the guy who really did. Others have insisted it isn’t a British invention at all but a Punjabi dish. But most people who know food history say it was the creation of a man named Ali Ahmed Aslam, who immigrated to Scotland from a village outside Lahore, Pakistan, when he was a teenager, and who opened the restaurant Shish Mahal in Glasgow in 1964. It was a local bus driver who popped in for dinner and suggested that plain chicken tikka was too spicy for him, and too dry — wasn’t there something sweeter and saucier that he could have instead? So Mr. Aslam tipped the tandoor-grilled pieces of meat into a pan with a quick tomato sauce and the dish was born.
The ancient Chinese art of Bian Lian
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