The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science opened to the public in 1939. Here is a brief overview of life from that remarkable year.
Rockefeller Center (New York City) is completed
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) located on Fifth Avenue, New York City, opens.
Hungary quits the League of Nations
"Mein Kampf", by Adolph Hitler, is translated to English and published.
Arthur Eddington publishes: "The Philosophy of Physical Science."
Artistic late-bloomer, Anna M. Robertson, becomes famous in the United States. She is known as "Grandma Moses".
Henry Moore sculpts the "Reclining Figure".
Carl Van Doren publishes the Pulitzer Prize winning biography: "Benjamin Franklin"
The construction of the Johnson Wax Company makes Frank Lloyd Wright's design for the building a reality.
"God Bless America", "Three Little Fishes", "Over The Rainbow", "I'll Never Smile Again", and "Beer Barrel Polka" are a sample of the popular songs people enjoyed.
Philip Levine and Rufus Stetson discover the Rh factor in human blood in the United States. The name Rh is chosen to honor the rhesus monkeys used in the research.
Bobby Riggs wins the U.S. Lawn Tennis Men's Singles. (This is the same Bobby Riggs who would latter play Billie Jean King in a "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match.)
The water-speed record of 368.85 miles per hour is attained. Malcolm Campbell pilots the boat.
Spain quits the League of Nations.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit the United States.
Picasso unveils his: "Night Fishing at Antibes".
45,000 people die in an earthquake in Anatolia, Turkey.
The United States yields the Davis Cup to Australia.
An Oxford Professor of Medieval Studies publishes a fantasy story based on bedtime stories he made up for his children. The professor is J.R.R. Tolkien, and the book is "The Hobbit".
David O. Selznick (born in Pittsburgh, 1902) wins an Academy Award for Directing "Gone With The Wind", staring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.
Popular movies include: "Ninotchka", "Good-Bye Mr. Chips", and "Stagecoach"
The United States is on the road to recovery from the 1938 recession, and is booming by the autumn of 1939, due to the large orders for War equipment from European countries.
Edward Adelbert Doisy isolates Vitamin K.
A local community service organization known as the Pittsburgh Junior Chamber of Commerce is created. Many years later it becomes Vectors/Pittsburgh.
Du Pont begins a fashion trend with the commercial sale of a new product known as nylon.
Paul Müller discovers DDT.
The cost of a new car was $ 900.00
The Nobel Prize is awarded for the discovery of the first sulfa drug, Prontosil.
The third sulfa drug, sulfathiazole, is created.
Lisa Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch use the term fission to describe the bombardment of uranium with neutrons.
The cost of a television was $ 625.00
Two guys named Bill and Dave form a partnership and decide to use their last names for the company. The choice is decided with a coin toss. Bill "wins" the toss and his name goes first. The company's name becomes Hewlett Packard.
The electric kitchen knife is used in America for the first time.
Famous Austrian psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, dies.
The first helicopter is mass-produced by Igor Sikorsky and the first flight is in September.
Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science is opened to the public on Tuesday, October 24th.
The chemical element francium is discovered by Marguerite Perey.
The first successful surgery is performed to correct a congenital heart defect.
W. Conyer Herring succeeds in describing why beryllium behaves as a metal.
England, Germany, and the United States are world leaders in Radar development.
The electron microscope enlarges images 50 times greater than the best optical microscope.
The Nobel Prize is awarded to T.E. O. Lawrence for the invention of the cyclotron.
Leo Szilard and Walter Zinn verify that nuclear fission can be self-sustaining.
John Ray Dunning experimentally confirms the theory of nuclear fission.
George R. Stibitz and Samuel B. Williams complete the Complex Number Calculator at Bell Labs.
Richard Brooke Roberts of Titusville, PA discovers that the uranium atoms undergoing fission do not release all of their neutrons at once.
A jet engine designed by Pabst von Ohain is successfully used to fly an airplane. The jet airplane is known as the HE 178.
Russia invades Finland.
The population of America was over 131,000,000 in 1939.
San Francisco and New York were hosting World's Fairs. Twenty million people would visit the fair in New York.
Franscisco Franko is dictator of Spain.
Television was demonstrated to the public at the New York World's Fair when RCA began transmitting from an antenna atop the Empire State Building.
Extensive Navy shipboard testing of the XAF Radar goes beyond all expectations.
Moviegoers could go see Judy Garland in The Wizard of OZ.
Hitler invades Poland starting WWII.
Mussolini invades Albania.
Future director of The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola, is born.
President Roosevelt believed that the United States should offer Britain and France all possible aid "short of war." An act of congress was required to assist these embattled nations.
While England and France are in negotiations with Russia, Stalin and Hitler announce that their two countries have signed a friendship pact. This is a bitter blow to England and France who are trying to help Poland.
Joe Dimaggio leads the American League in batting.
A German submarine sank the British ship Athenia causing the loss of 30 American lives. This even causes America to rethink its position regarding a possible involvement in the European conflict.
Edwin H. Armstrong develops high frequency modulation and puts the first FM radio station on the air. Five more stations go on the air and 15 more are under construction.
Actor Douglas Fairbanks dies.
Albert Einstein writes a letter to President Roosevelt suggesting that American scientists design and construct an atomic bomb before the Germans construct one.
Over 700 AM radio stations are on the air across America.
Lou Gehrig drops out of baseball due to ALS.
The style slogan for winter fashion, according to fashion expert Kathleen Cannell, is to wear lots of big, expensive jewelry.
John Steinbeck pens The Grapes of Wrath.
Harry Hopkins was named Secretary of Commerce.
National Emergency Council abolished.
T.S. Eliot writes a book titled Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. This book will become the basis for a spectacular Broadway musical some 40 plus years later known as Cats.
Choreographer Busby Berkeley directs the film, Broadway Serenade.
Pope Pius XII elected.
From 1933-1939 the Public Works Administration (WPA) constructed 70% of the public schools, 65% of the courthouses and city halls, and 35% of the hospitals in America. (The WPA also constructed portions of the Pittsburgh Zoo. Check for the plaque on the "rocks" where the bears were on display.)
John Cage composes Imaginary Landscape No. 1. This was the first piece to be written specifically for a recording medium.
Federal Loan Agency created.
Kathy Witworth is born. She will later become the first LPGA winner of $ 1,000,000.
© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 SaveTheBuhl.org