Great Moments in Travel History – December 2013

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 December 2013
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Boeing Dreamliner ZA003 in Dallas

The Château Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City, Canada, opened its doors on December 20, 1893.  Named for the man who was governor of New France for over 20 years in the 17th century, the luxury, castle-like hotel has grown from 170 rooms to its current 613 rooms.

The Palace Hotel, which survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, only to then be consumed by the fires that followed in the quake’s aftermath, reopened its doors on December 19, 1909.  It is currently a Starwood Luxury Collection property.

The Boeing Airplane Co. B-1 mail plane, the first Boeing-designed commercial aircraft, made its first flight on December 27, 1919.

The Drake Hotel in Chicago opened its doors on December 31, 1920.  The luxury hotel is a longtime rival of the historic Palmer House hotel in Chicago.

On December 7, 1946, the deadliest hotel fire in United States history occurred at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.  One hundred and nineteen people perished in the fire, and 26-year-old graduate student Arnold Hardy won a Pulitzer Prize in photography for his picture of a woman in mid-air after having jumped from the 11th floor.  The hotel reopened on October 1, 2007 as the Ellis Hotel.

On December 23, 1946, the first production-model Boeing Stratofreighter rolled out, and employees participated in the first post-war inauguration of a new airplane.

Twenty-two people died in what was the highest one-day death toll in Jacksonville, Florida history on December 29, 1963.  One of two luxury hotels in the downtown area, the Hotel Roosevelt, went up in flames after faulty wiring ignited the hotel’s ballroom ceiling, which had previously been deemed a fire hazard.

After a dispute with hotel management over medical care and salaries, three disgruntled employees set a fire in the Hotel Dupont Plaza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 31, 1986.  It was the worst hotel fire in Puerto Rican history, with 97 people falling victim to the New Year’s Eve blaze.  The hotel is now the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.

While flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on December 21, 1988.  All 243 passengers and 16 crew members, as well as 11 people on the ground, were killed.

Trans World Airlines agreed to sell its six routes between the United States and London to American Airlines for $445 million on December 16, 1990.

Click here to continue to Page 2Pan Am Shuts Down, Dreamliner Gets Green Light, and Europe’s Largest Hotel

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