Top 10 Completely Surprising “Firsts” for the United States

The land of firsts is the United States. States all around our great nation love to brag about being the first to do this or that. One excellent illustration of this is aviation. Because that is where the Wright brothers successfully launched their rudimentary aircraft at the start of the 20th century, North Carolina claims to be the “first in flight.” Ohio, however, also asserts itself as the “first in flight” since it was there that the Wright brothers established their bicycle shop and other companies, where they first experimented with the concept of an airplane. They also lived there full-time. Every state claims to be the first at something, or several things at that. But what about strange and outrageous firsts? Not every state that claims to be “first” should be exalted or should rule over others. Some are just strange and random! We’ll look at ten state “firsts” in this list that you’ve probably never heard of before. They may not be the subject of boasts in advertising campaigns and travel pamphlets, but these states’ humorous, eccentric, and unique features make them unforgettable nonetheless!

10 Alabama: The Initial Dial for 911

The first-ever 911 call was placed in the Alabaman small town of Haleyville in 1968. Prior to 1968, the number “0” served as the national emergency code for the entire country. However, by 1968, officials understood that in order to speed the process, they required a standalone dispatch office and a distinct number that people could contact with emergencies. Previously, you would phone the operator, and the operator would patch you through to the police, fire department, or whatever you needed. The procedure could move along much more quickly than it had for some time thanks to dispatchers who were trained to handle calls and dispatch emergency services including fire, police, and EMS. Additionally, Haleyville’s officials aimed to be the first in the nation to adopt the new method. So they did exactly that on February 16, 1968.

The first-ever 911 call was placed that morning by the speaker of the house from Alabama, who picked up a red phone. On the other end of the telephone, waiting for his colleague politician to dial 911, was state representative Tom Bevill. After exchanging pleasantries for a short while, the two concluded that the line was operational and that people could be clearly heard by the dispatchers. Haleyville was able to quickly get the emergency phone number up and running, as Congress had only a few weeks earlier mandated that 911 become the national emergency number. Numerous more municipalities quickly followed suit. And these days, well, calling 911 is practically entrenched in Americans’ minds from an early age. Thus, the system functions![1]

9 Florida: Sunscreen History’s First

In 1944, adventurous travelers had to see Miami, Florida’s sunny attractions, but residents who enjoyed the beach remained loyal. Naturally, Americans were looking forward to returning to their normal lives in peacetime as World War II was about to come to an end. That ushered in a frenzy of outdoor recreation that started for residents of the United States even prior to the end of the war. This is where Benjamin Green enters the picture. You see, like many of his fellow young men across the country, Green had been serving as an airman during the war. In his private life, however, Green was a pharmacist with a good understanding of medicine and the human body. He also enjoyed being outside and surfing. And he was tired of getting burnt by the sun!With all those details combined, Green was a natural at experimenting with lotions and lathers until he developed a suitable solution. In that year, Green developed and launched a lotion that would give skin a bronzed appearance and darken tans without severely burning the wearer’s skin. When Green invented Suntan lotion, the concept that a lather could double as sunscreen quickly gained traction. Miami locals began using Green’s creation, praising how it bronzed their skin without giving them the horrible red burns that come from the sun’s strongest rays. Green’s business then took off. You are familiar with Coppertone, the brand that sprang from his 1944 concept. And Miami is where it all began![2]

8 Iowa: The Invented Computer

Though Silicon Valley in northern California is often considered the tech hub of all tech hubs, this wasn’t always the case in the past. The first “tech” hub was actually located in Ames, Iowa! How come? John Vincent Atanasoff, an Iowa State University physics professor, started experimenting with what would eventually become the first electronic computer in 1937. Atanasoff worked with Clifford Berry, a graduate student in physics, to perfect the large, cumbersome machine over the course of the following five years. It was finally ready to be displayed in 1942 as the world’s first electronic computer! It made history as the first device to be created to electronically compute, read, and write. Appropriately named the Atanasoff-Berry Computer in honor of the two gentlemen, or the ABC Computer. Like with all old technologies like that, the ABC Computer would not have been recognizable to us today as a computer. Its dimensions matched that of a desk, and its weight exceeded 750 pounds (340 kg). However, by 1942, quite a few crucial features were reliably and successfully operating: revolving drums for memory; a read/write system for recording numbers; glowing vacuum tubes; distinct memory and computation functions; electronic amplifiers serving as on/off switches; addition and subtraction-specific circuits; and a now-standard binary system for counting, arithmetic, and other uses. Naturally, technology advanced much faster than the ABC Computer in due course. However, it all began at Iowa State University ages ago![3]

7 The First Brewery in New York

What some will view as the most significant item on this list is something that the great state of New York can claim: the first public brewery. Furthermore, it was founded in 1632—far, long before you could have imagined! The Dutch were the ones who established and ruled the city back then. Naturally, this occurred long before the United States gained its independence, and the Dutch referred to their colony as “New Amsterdam.” At the time, beer was primarily produced at home during the first ten or so years that the Dutch controlled what would eventually become New York. However, all of that changed in 1632 when a bold group of people made the decision to brew beer in public and sell it to their neighbors for a profit. And with that, the enormously lucrative and powerful alcohol industry in the United States was born!The first commercial brewery was constructed in the early months of 1632 on Brewery Street, which is now known as Stone Street in lower Manhattan. Hops, malt, and grain were all grown close to New Amsterdam, making it exceedingly convenient for brewers to obtain the ingredients they required to produce beer logistically. The concept gained so much traction in a short period of time that beer production became New Amsterdam’s largest industry. Dutch brewers quickly appeared across the city and began to vie with one another to sell suds to the residents and get them all stone cold drunk. Even though it wasn’t exactly like the craft beer championships of the previous two decades, it was nonetheless a massive land grab in the beverage business. Salutations![4]

6 South Carolina: The Original Opera

Part 1 of The Weird & Wonderful World of Opera: The Background
An opera named Flora made its debut on February 8, 1735, at a temporary theater built in Charleston, South Carolina. For a number of years, the opera enjoyed great success in England, and theater owners were optimistic that its popularity would spread to the United States as well. They were correct: Flora, at the time referred to as a “ballad opera,” became popular almost immediately, and soon enough, fans in America began to expect more from the same genre. Thus, South Carolina unintentionally created history by being the first state to host an opera. Plus, they hadn’t even become a state yet! All of this obviously took place prior to the American Revolution and the nation’s struggle for freedom. Although it may not seem like much, the operatic genre was extremely important to American theater. See, this “ballad opera” became so well-liked in Charleston that subsequent dramatists and theater producers changed the narrative style to appeal to American audiences. As a result, American musicals developed a particularly well-liked and enduring genre. More than ever before, the songs played in operas had to be essential to advancing the plot of the entire production. It goes without saying that musicals are still very much in demand and very popular nowadays. Musical theater has been increasingly prevalent, owing to the popularity of Hamilton and Broadway productions. And for that, we can all praise South Carolina and its innovative Flora performance.[5]

5: The First Dental School in Maryland

The first dentistry school in the history of the country was established in the state of Maryland around two centuries ago. In actuality, at the time it was the first dentistry school to start anywhere in the globe! You see, dentistry in colonial America was very much a hit-or-miss endeavor. Some doctors dabbled in dentistry on the side and did fairly well at it—you know, considering the times. With little to no comprehension of what they were doing, other people took up the business and essentially slaughtered their clients. Enter the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. The entire situation was chaotic and uncontrolled, and it hurt a lot of patients who were looking for relief from jaw and toothaches. It was the nation’s first accredited dental school when it was established in 1840. It was a global pioneer in the field of oral medicine because it was so far ahead of its time. Dental professionals who attended that school proved to be more qualified than any fly-by-night self-taught dentist who had come before them. The nation’s oral health gradually but steadily improved as the school produced more graduates who were more skilled and adept at performing meticulous and genuinely successful dental procedures. The college is now known as the University of Maryland School of Dentistry when it was eventually incorporated into Maryland’s public university system.[6]

4 Maine: The Original City

The year 1641 marked the establishment of York, Maine, as the first formally incorporated city in the annals of the New World by the English. Captain John Smith had originally occupied the area much before then, in 1624. Although he had visited the region as early as 1614, he didn’t establish himself there for ten years. However, he decided to colonize the area and begin construction in 1624 after deciding that the York region would make a fine town site. The city was formerly named as Agamenticus. The city was formally granted a charter in 1641 when Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a different explorer of the American continent, passed through the region. Indeed, Sir Gorges practically put the city on the map when he named it Gorgeana (nothing like naming a city after yourself, huh?). Thus, the first recognized city in America was established. The Massachusetts Bay Company seized the explorer’s land there eleven years after Gorges moved to charter things. They renewed the Gorgeana charter after rescinding the old one. They named the city York when they designated it, and the name has remained! It was given in honor of Yorkshire, England. From there, it grew gradually for some time. Then, in a raid by the nearby Abenaki Indians, forty years later, in 1692, it was all but destroyed. But it remained! York is a well-liked tourist destination nowadays for those who enjoy history and a sense of bygone colonial times. It has less than 15,000 full-time people, who make up a modest but comfortable population.[7]

3 Michigan: The Initially Paved Pathway

At the start of the 20th century, Henry Ford’s Model T automobiles were taking Detroit and the rest of Michigan by storm. To take care of them, local government officials understood they needed to expand public works. So, a mile of Woodward Avenue in the city of Detroit saw the construction and smoothing over of the nation’s first paved road in 1909. Although it wasn’t a highway in the modern sense, supporters of the project dubbed it “the world’s first concrete highway” at the time. After all, brick pavers had already been invented long before that. They were found on several streets in Detroit, as well as in other American cities and other locations. However, there was no smooth, concrete pavement. Regretfully, early automobile models had a terrible time driving over bricks that were frequently incredibly uneven within blocks of pavement. Pavement was therefore soon recognized as a better option, and Detroit came on board to start that process. Work crews put in a lot of effort throughout the spring of 1909, and the setup was finished on April 20 of that same year. Between Six Mile Road and Seven Mile Road, Woodward Avenue was paved for automobile traffic for a distance of one mile. The whole cost came to about $1,400, with the state funding contributing about $1,000 to the budget.[8]

2 Minnesota: The Inaugural Shopping Center

With the infamous and enormously large Mall of America, Minnesota sets the standard for mall construction in the modern era. It’s actually larger than many small towns in terms of length, width, and population, and it has more dining options, retail establishments, and entertainment options inside the mall. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Minnesota was the site of the first major mall culture explosion in the decades following World War II. After soldiers returned home in 1945 and throughout the following decade, they were all preoccupied with starting families, finding employment, purchasing homes, and generating income. This in turn inspired ambitious business executives to build expansive and immersive shopping destinations where you could get almost anything you could possibly need in one location. The fully realized version of this concept made its debut on October 8, 1956, when Southdale Center opened. Southdale Center was the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled retail center in history, and it was built in the Edina, Minnesota, suburb of Minneapolis. Naturally, Minnesota has extremely harsh winters, thus Edina is where the mall as we know it today made its infamous debut, welcoming everyone to visit and shop inside its doors. People could come to the mall year-round to get everything they wanted because it was completely covered and climate-controlled. And they did turn up! Their numbers were so great that the concept of constructing a mall quickly extended to all other major American cities.

1 Arizona: The First Through-Village

Although many establishments around the country may have considered opening a fast food drive-thru, Arizona holds the distinction of being the first state to do it. In other words, McDonald’s began considering how to better cater to a driving-obsessed populace in numerous markets in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Franchisees in Los Angeles and San Diego initially approached the corporate office to inquire about the feasibility of installing drive-thru windows to save customers having to exit their vehicles. The proposal was well-received by executives, who made some minor adjustments. Then, an Oklahoma City franchisee approached them about opening the area’s first drive-thru. that McDonald’s had enough room for a queue of cars and the ideal drive-up location. The firm intended to implement the drive-thru concept as soon as possible, but there was only one issue: the OKC restaurant desperately needed renovations, which put a stop to the drive-thru construction. Consequently, a McDonald’s in Sierra Vista, Arizona, moved into that area. The Fort Huachuca Army Base was located directly across the street from that eatery. Due to a recently implemented Army regulation at the time, the eatery was experiencing falling revenues. Soldiers wearing Army uniforms or fatigues were prohibited from leaving their cars when off-base by the base. As a result, they were not permitted to stop at McDonald’s, get out of their cars, and grab food. The business decided that would be the ideal configuration for a drive-thru window, and they implemented it. Other drive-thrus appeared across the country shortly after that. And now it’s so normal that we find it strange if a McDonald’s drive-thru window is missing !


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *