The 1907 Jamestown Exposition

In 1607, Jamestown was founded in Virginia. And three hundred years later, the U.S. wanted to commemorate the famous event. Event planners thought it impossible to set up the exposition at the original site of Jamestown; the area was abandoned and not geographically convenient for large volumes of visitors. Because of this, the site of Norfolk was eventually decided on. Norfolk, Virginia sits close enough to Jamestown and is today a large, thriving city.

Event planners set the location of the exposition at Sewell’s Point, a beautiful location but a difficult one to construct on because of its isolation. They had to build roads just to get to the site! This foreshadowed a number of different preparation issues. Most difficult of all, Fitzhugh Lee, the Governor of Virginia and president of the Norfolk City Council, died in 1905 while working on the project.

The Exposition opened on April 26, 1907, exactly three hundred years after colonists first landed in Virginia. Similar to other World Fairs in the past, the Jamestown Exposition had a rough start. On opening day, only one fifth of the lights were able to turn on, and multiple buildings and sites were not completed. Constructors even failed to finish two buildings by the exposition’s end. But President Theodore Roosevelt himself personally opened the exposition!

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A difficult start didn’t have to forebode a bad exposition – though setbacks did continue. Attendance never achieved projected numbers after the opening day, and the fair did not make enough to pay back a million dollar loan.

But the show did have its successes. One of the most popular was the recreation of the Battle of Hampton Roads, a battle between the warships USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. This epic battle between ships was one of the changing points for Virginia in the 17th century; the exposition built a whole building around the model. Military prowess was a common theme for the exposition, which some visitors protested.

Overall, the exposition was not a big success. It lost several million dollars thanks to a much lower attendance than expected. Too much ambition and poor planning ended up being the exposition’s downfall.

However, some great postcards came out of it! If you’re interested in vintage Jamestown Exposition postcards, you can find them here.

Bet You Didn’t Know The Origin of Basketball

On one fateful day in 1891, Dr. James Naismith needed a way to keep his students busy indoors during the cold winters. He came up with the rules for an indoor game played with a soccer ball and a peach basket nailed onto the wall. The number of people on each team was determined by the number of students in Naismith’s gym class. The game eventually evolved into basketball, the only major sport invented in the U.S.

Basketball rules evolved over time. When the game first started, the basket had a bottom and the ball had to be removed manually each time. The original game had no dribbling, either; dribbling was only introduced in the 1950’s when the ball had become a more uniform sphere.

Naismith claimed that he based the rules of basketball on the children’s game “Duck on a Rock”.

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You can buy this postcard here!

These are the original rules of basketball, penned by Dr. James Naismith himself (source):

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands.
3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.
4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.
5. No shouldering, holding, striking, pushing, or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next basket is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of rules three and four and such described in rule five.
7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).
8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there (without falling), providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.
10. The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify people according to Rule 5.
11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the baskets, with any other duties that are usually performed by a scorekeeper.
12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
13. The side making the most points in that time is declared the winner.