When the moving assembly line debuted at Ford’s Highland Park factory 100 years ago, the world was becoming a smaller place, thanks to canals, flying machines, road maps and highways. While automobiles, airplanes and household appliances were still considered to be novelty items, things were about to change, thanks to mass-production.
Here’s a brief look at some events that were occurring elsewhere in the world in 1913:
- Europe teeters on the brink of World War I.
- The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for a federal income tax, is adopted.
- The 792-foot-tall Woolworth Building opens in New York City. The gothic tower, nicknamed the cathedral of commerce, is the tallest building in the world.
- Woodrow Wilson is inaugurated as the 28th President of the United States.
- The Lincoln Highway (the longest continuously paved road in the world) opens, connecting New York City and San Francisco.
- The first electric refrigerator is introduced.
- Mechanical windshield wipers become standard equipment on automobiles.
- The Panama Canal opens, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and boosting world trade.
- Harry Brearley, a metallurgist in Sheffield, England, casts a metal that is resistant to acidity and weathering. It’s dubbed stainless steel.
- Brillo pads are first marketed.
- Grand Central Terminal opens in New York City. The giant building features Beaux-arts architecture.
- Igor Sikorsky creates the world’s first multi-engine airplane. The radical design features four 100-horsepower engines and an enclosed cabin.
- William Burton patents a process to “crack” petroleum, which makes the production of gasoline more efficient.
- The first all-purpose zipper is patented.
- A fierce storm dubbed the “white hurricane” wreaks havoc on the Great Lakes and sinks numerous freighters.
- Hollywood becomes the center of the movie industry.
- The first prize (a whistle) is inserted into a box of Cracker Jack.
- There are more than 40 car companies in Detroit. Popular brands other than Buick and Ford include Hupmobile, Maxwell, Studebaker and Willys-Overland.
- The forward pass becomes popular in football.
- The U.S. Federal Reserve system is established.
- The world’s first crossword puzzle is printed in the New York World newspaper.
- Gulf Refining Co. opens the world’s first drive-through filling station in Pittsburgh.
- A controversial exhibition in New York City showcases modern art for the first time in the United States. It includes works by Matisse and Picasso.
- The Erector Set is introduced. The metal construction toy eventually inspires many generations of engineers.
- The modern parachute is developed and demonstrated to the U.S. Army.
- New words entering the lexicon include “airmail,” “artificial,” “cinema,” “hub cap,” “jazz,” “motorcade,” “static,” “streamlined,” “superconductor,” “tango” and “toaster.”
Main Article: The Moving Assembly Line Turns 100