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May is full of interesting history and fun facts. Follow along as we explore some May history that has impacted many different aspects of our lives. 

May 1, 1931 – The Empire State Building is Dedicated

May 1, 1931 - The Empire State Building is Dedicated

The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic symbols of America. Designed by William F. Lamb, the skyscraper soars to 1,454 feet. Making it the tallest building in the world at the time.

Its construction during the Great Depression signified its testament to perseverance and ambition, providing much-needed jobs and hope to New Yorkers during difficult economic hardship. 

On May 1, 1931, the dedication ceremony was momentous for New York City and the world. Prime ministers, dignitaries, and future U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the event.

May 5, 1862 – Mexican Forces Defeated French Troops

May 5, 1862 - Mexican Forces Defeated French Troops

The Battle of Puebla ended with victory for a small Mexican army over powerful French forces.

The battle was a pivotal moment in the Franco-Mexican War. Led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, Mexican troops successfully defended the city of Puebla against a French assault. People around the world celebrate this triumph every year in Cinco de Mayo.

May 10, 1869 – The Transcontinental Railroad is Completed in the U.S.

May 10, 1869 - The Transcontinental Railroad is Completed in the U.S.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad marked a huge achievement in American history. It connected the Eastern and Western regions of the United States by rail for the first time.

The project involved years of hard labor and investments. The Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad companies undertook it. Workers drove the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869, marking the end of this monumental project. 

Unifying a nation divided by vast geographical barriers, the Golden Spike signified the beginning of a revolution in transportation, communication, and more.

May 15, 1958 – The First Commercial Passenger Jet Flight Took Place

May 15, 1958 - The First Commercial Passenger Jet Flight Took Place

The introduction of the Boeing 707 was a watershed moment in the history of aviation. It ushered in the era of commercial jet travel. The 707 represented a major leap forward in speed, comfort, and efficiency compared to previous piston-engine airliners.

The first commercial flights from New York to Paris took place on May 15, 1958. This event marked the start of a new era in transatlantic air travel. 

The 707 fueled the growth of global tourism as more people embraced air travel as a preferred mode of transportation.

Today the legacy lives on in the modern fleets of commercial airlines. The 707 continues to shape how we experience the world through travel.

May 22, 1906 – The Wright Brothers Patent

May 22, 1906 - The Wright Brothers

On May 22, 1906, the Wright Brothers received U.S. Patent Number 821,393 for their “Flying Machine.” The patent officially recognized their contributions to aeronautical engineering and cemented their status as the pioneers of powered flight. 

The Wright Brothers’ accomplishments sparked a revolution in transportation and communication. It created possibilities for exploration, commerce, and more.

May 22, 1933 – The First Reported Sighting of the Loch Ness Monster

May 22, 1933 - The First Reported Sighting of the Loch Ness Monster

The legend of the Loch Ness Monster has captured the imagination of people around the world for centuries. The first reported sighting of this elusive creature was on May 22, 1933. It sparked a frenzy of fascination with the unknown that continues today.

Many claim Nessie is a pre-historic marine reptile. Others suggest it’s a large fish, a seal, or a series of hoaxes and rumors.

Despite extensive investigations and expeditions, the mystery remains unresolved and continues as a cultural phenomenon.

May 25, 1977 – The Original Star Wars is Released

May 25, 1977 - The Original Star Wars is Released

The movie, “Star Wars A New Hope,” opened in theaters on May 25th, 1977. This marked the beginning of a cultural phenomenon. The movie had a huge impact on cinema and popular culture.

The film contains many elements that modern filmmaking now considers essential. The director, George Lucas, used groundbreaking special effects to capture the imagination of audiences in a new way.

The film’s themes of heroism, redemption, and the struggle between good and evil have resonated with audiences for generations. Star Wars became a cultural touchstone, becoming a multi-media franchise that continues today.

May 25, 1961 – President John F. Kennedy Announced the Goal of Sending an American Astronaut to the Moon

May 25, 1961 - President John F. Kennedy Space speech

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to Congress about his plans for space exploration. He committed to achieving the goal of having a man land safely on the moon.

His speech ignited a new era of space exploration and innovation. It gave rise to the Apollo program which became one of the most inspiring endeavors in the whole of human history.

Kennedy’s vision came to fruition almost six years after his death. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon’s surface. A monumental achievement, not just for the United States, but for humanity.

May 26, 1805 – Lewis and Clark Became the First to See the Rocky Mountains

May 26, 1805 - Lewis and Clark Became the First to See the Rocky Mountains

The Lewis and Clark Expedition is one of the greatest exploratory journeys in American history. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned it in 1803. The expedition was meant to explore the Louisiana Purchase and find a water route to the Pacific Ocean.

On May 26, 1805, Lewis and Clark became the first Americans to lay eyes on the majestic Rocky Mountains. Lewis and Clark forged a path along the wilderness and charted a course that would pave the way for future Westward expansion.

The Lewis and Clark expedition continues to be a symbol of the pioneering spirit of the American experience.

May 30, 1966 – NASA Launched the Surveyor 1 Lunar Lander

May 30, 1966 - NASA Launched the Surveyor 1 Lunar Lander

May 30, 1966, was a significant milestone in the exploration of the moon. Surveyor 1 was the first American spacecraft to land on the moon.

Engineers designed Surveyor 1 to collect data in preparation for future manned missions to the moon.

Its successful touchdown on the moon’s surface provided invaluable information about the lunar environment. The spacecraft sent back thousands of high-resolution photographs and scientific measurements to Earth. 

The successful mission paved the way for the Apollo program. The Apollo program ultimately resulted in the famous moon landing of Apollo 11 in 1969.

More History in May

More May History

In May, there are many amazing historical milestones to learn about. For more May fun facts check out these free lesson plans and videos: