1928 Happenings

What was the world like in 1928 when the Lord Baltimore Hotel was built and opened?  Many aspects of that year would be familiar to those of us living in 2013, and many others would be utterly foreign.

Construction of the Lord Baltimore Hotel began in May of 1928. In June, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to successfully complete a transatlantic flight. She would later make an appearance at the Lord Baltimore Hotel.

The average net income in the United States for 1928 was $6197, according to the IRS, and 511 people (or 0.13%) were millionaires (see this document for complete data: 28soirepar).

In Europe, Benito Mussolini was busy rigging Italy’s electoral system to gain more power, as described by Chris Trueman:

“Mussolini appointed members to the Fascist Grand Council and from 1928, the Grand Council had to be consulted on all constitutional issues. As Mussolini appointed people onto the Council, logic would dictate that those people would do what Mussolini wished them to do.

The electoral system was changed again in 1928. Mussolini said after the change:

“Any possibility of choice is eliminated…..I never dreamed of a chamber like yours.””

Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse film, had its premiere in 1928. According to IMDB:

“According to Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney came up with the idea of putting a soundtrack into his next Mickey Mouse cartoon after watching The Jazz Singer (1927).”

In the baseball world, Babe Ruth hit three home runs for the Yankees in the final game of the 25th World Series against the Cardinals, helping the Yankees to sweep their second consecutive Series.

Prohibition was in its ninth year by 1928, and things weren’t going so well:

“The Moderation League has continued for a fourth year its national survey of conditions under prohibition.

The police departments of 584 places have supplied their figures of arrests for intoxication for the four years 1924 to 1927; 618 departments for the 8 years 1920 to 1927; and 388 departments for the 14 years 1924 to 1927.

The most significant things disclosed by this year’s figures are:

1. In the 584 places arrests for drunkenness increased from 640,125 in 1924…to 707,104 in 1927.

2. In the 618 places arrests for drunkenness in 1927 reached 238 per cent of the figures for 1920, the first year of national prohibition, which was the lowest year for drunkenness.

3. In the 388 places reporting from 1914 to 1927 arrests for drunkenness were higher than in any previous year, save only for the war-boom peak of 1916.”

In better news, the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming was a huge, if slow to be recognized, medical breakthrough. WGBH tells the story:

“In 1928, he was straightening up a pile of Petri dishes where he had been growing bacteria, but which had been piled in the sink. He opened each one and examined it before tossing it into the cleaning solution. One made him stop and say, “That’s funny.” Some mold was growing on one of the dishes… not too unusual, but all around the mold, the staph bacteria had been killed… very unusual. He took a sample of the mold. He found that it was from the penicillium family, later specified as Penicillium notatum. Fleming presented his findings in 1929, but they raised little interest.”

And with that, we leave 1928 just as we are leaving 2013, looking back before we leap forward into the unknown on the last day of the year.

Thank you to everyone who read and shared this blog in 2013! I’m excited to share more stories with you in 2014 – Happy New Year!