This Day In History, April 22nd

What happened on this day in history: American pinup Bettie Page is born in Nashville, the first Earth Day is observed, and more.

1519: Hernán Cortés Establishes Veracruz


Art Media/Print Collector/Getty ImagesA depiction of the city of Veracruz from the 17th century.

Hernán Cortés lands on the beach of Chalchihuecan in present-day Mexico. The Spanish explorer established the settlement of Veracruz there, so naming the future city because he had arrived on Good Friday, or Vera Cruz. Today the city is known for its beaches as well as its Carnaval celebration.

1889: The Oklahoma Land Rush Begins

The Oklahoma Land Rush begins at noon. At that moment, thousands of eager settlers flooded a 1.9 million acre swath of land in Indian Territory that the U.S. government had recently opened up for settlement. The land had technically never been designated to any one tribe, but settlers were able to eventually control greater and greater portions of land that was reserved for certain tribes. By 1905, white settlers controlled most of the territory.

1915: German Forces Use Chlorine Gas For The First Time

German troops deploy chlorine gas as a weapon of war for the first time during a battle just north of Ypres, Belgium. The gas stunned and terrified Allied troops, who had no means of protecting themselves. Before long, however, gas — and gas masks — became a defining feature of World War I.

1923: Bettie Page Is Born

Bettie Page

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesBettie Page posing for a portrait circa 1952.

Betty Mae Page, later known simply as Bettie Page, is born in Nashville, Tennesee. A model and “pinup girl” with trademark dark bangs, Page became famous in the 1950s for her nude and sexually explicit photos. Behind her glamourous image, Page suffered from depression and paranoid schizophrenia, and spent the end of her life largely out of the public eye.

1970: The Inaugural Earth Day Is Observed

The first “Earth Day” is observed in the United States. Meant to raise awareness about environmental issues worldwide, the event was promoted by Senator Gaylord Nelson, who hoped that young people would fight for the Earth with the same energy that they’d fought against the war in Vietnam. Today, Earth Day is observed in more than 193 countries.

1994: Richard Nixon Dies

Richard Nixon dies in New York City at the age of 81, shortly after suffering a stroke. A congressman, senator, and the 37th president of the United States, Nixon’s accomplishments as president include his historic 1972 trip to China and the reduction of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, he is best remembered for his role in the Watergate coverup, which rocked his presidency and led to his resignation from office in 1974.