One of the great pleasures of studying history is the joy of looking back on the events of the past while comfortably armed with the benefit of hindsight. Incidents from history make fascinating reading as standalone tales of intrigue, like stories from a book with a clear beginning, middle and end. However our fascination with the past is doubled when we discover that two seemingly disparate historical events actually happened at the same time.
Maybe there were two important inventions you had assumed were centuries apart in the making, two concepts that seem entirely at odds with one another co-existing. Maybe two famous people lived next door, or met by weird coincidence on the street. These patterns and peculiarities are more common than you might think, and if you believe that human destiny is guided, and not accidental, then these links in the ongoing chain of cause and effect, stretching back through the centuries, seem to hint at the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of significant historical events that you will be amazed to learn happened at in tandem.
1. In the same year that the first wagon passed over the Oregon Trail, the fax machine was invented (1843)
2. While the Ancient Egyptians were building the Great Pyramids, Mammoths still walked the Earth. (2660 BCE)
3. The same year that the Titanic sank, ecstasy was first synthesised (1912)
4. The first McDonald’s restaurant opened just five days before the first prisoners arrived at Auschwitz (1940)
5. Jack the Ripper was still at large when Nintendo was founded (1889)
6. Star Wars was released on the same year as France’s last use of the Guillotine for execution (1977)
7. While the United States was driving a buggy on the moon, Swiss women were granted the right to a vote (1971)
8. During the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Brooklyn Bridge was being constructed (1876)
9. One of the Wright brothers was alive when Hiroshima was bombed (1945)
10. You could have travelled to the last public hanging in the UK on the London Underground (1868)
11. Oxford University is hundreds of years older than the Aztec Empire – which was founded in 1428
Some remarkable links between what, until now, I had considered entirely separate moments in history. I hope you learned as much as I did from reading this list – I’d be amazed if there weren’t at least one or two surprises in there that you wouldn’t have known about until now. It’s like the science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein once said: “A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.”
But history isn’t just informative, it’s also terrifying: more frightening than the most spine-chilling novel or eerie slasher movie on the big screen. Reading through a particularly grisly chapter of a history book, rife with massacres, plagues and bloodbaths, can be more disturbing than we give it credit for. If you don’t believe me then check out this article we penned all about some of history’s most disturbing military uniforms. If you can make it through the list with the lights off then I commend your bravery.