This Day In History, May 27th

What happened on this day in history: The Golden Gate bridge opens, the Centralia mine fire begins, and more events from May 27th.

1703: St. Petersburg Is Founded

The city of St. Petersburg is established by Peter the Great. For over 200 years, from 1712 to 1918, it served as the capital of Russia. Though Bolsheviks made Moscow the new capital in 1918 following the Russian Revolution, St. Petersburg remains the second-largest city in Russia today.

1837: “Wild Bill” Hickok Is Born

Wild Bill Hickok Portrait

Wikimedia CommonsOne of the few known photos of “Wild Bill” Hickok to survive to this day.

James Butler Hickok, better known as “Wild Bill” is born in Illinois. A Wild West icon, Hickok gained fame for his bravery, gambling prowess, and marksmanship. He was shot and killed in 1876 at a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory by fellow gambler Jack McCall while holding a pair of black aces and a pair of eights — what’s known to this day as “the dead man’s hand.”

1937: The Golden Gate Bridge Opens

Today In History May 27

Library of CongresThe Golden Gate Bridge while under construction in 1934.

The Golden Gate Bridge opens in San Francisco, connecting the city to Marin County over San Francisco Bay. After five years of construction, more than 200,000 people paid 25 cents to walk across the bridge on its opening “Pedestrian Day.” The following day, the bridge opened for vehicles. To this day, it’s widely called the most recognizable and photographed bridge in the world.

1941: The German Battleship Bismarck Sinks

The British navy sinks the German battleship Bismarck off the coast of France. The pride of the German fleet, the 823-foot vessel set out to intercept the British supply line. Instead, the British engaged the behemoth and sunk it after a short battle — killing almost its entire 2,221-man crew.

1962: The Centralia Mine Fire Begins

Centralia Fire

Cole Young/FlickrSmoke rises from the road in Centralia, Pennsylvania.

The Centralia mine fire begins in Centralia, Pennsylvania. The coal-seam fire, thought to have been sparked by the burning of a local dump, continues to burn to this day, some 60 years later. The blaze prompted all but a few people to abandon the area, causing Centralia to become a veritable ghost town.