Oct. 9, 1888
It's on this day that the Washington Monument – at the time the tallest building in the world – officially opens to the public. (When the Eiffel Tower opens in Paris the following year, it will claim bragging rights of tallest structure.) Built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington, the stone obelisk is still the world's tallest stone structure, the world's tallest obelisk, and the tallest building in Washington, D.C., measuring a full 555 feet, 51⁄8 inches in height. The monument has been closed since 2003, when both an earthquake and Hurricane Irene that year caused substantial damage. The National Park Service estimates that the monument will re-open in 2014.
Oct. 10, 1959
Pan American World Airways, founded in 1927 as an air-mail and passenger service flying between Key West, Fla., and Havana, Cuba, announces the beginning of the first global airline service. The airline became a huge player in the airline space, and was credited with leading the industry with innovations like computerized reservation systems and leggy attendants who, more than 50 years later, have inspired an ABC TV show, "Pan Am."
Oct. 12, 1492
Arguably the world's most famous explorer, Christopher Columbus, and his crew land in the Bahamas. Although where exactly he landed isn't quite certain – as many as 10 islands in the Caribbean have been identified as the possible site of his landfall in the New World. However, most believe that the land he claimed for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella was in fact Watlings Island, known now as San Salvadore Island.
Oct. 13, 1992
A commercial flight record was set by an Air France Concorde supersonic jetliner, for circling the Earth in 33 hours and one minute. The flight, marking the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first landing in the Americas, took off from Lisbon, Portugal, and included six refueling stops: Santo Domingo, Acapulco, Honolulu, Guam, Bangkok, and Bahrain. Then, after the Concorde's only crash (July 25, 2000) and the turbulent world travel economy after Sept. 11, 2001, the Concorde made its last flight on Nov. 26, 2003.
Oct. 14, 1884
George Eastman is awarded a patent for his transparent paper-strip photographic film, the first film on a roll that was practical to use, paving the way for millions of vacation photos in the years to come.