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This Day in History
End of Cuban missile crisis
On October 27, 1962, the US and Soviet Union reach a solution to end the two-week-old Cuban Missile Crisis. The tension-filled negotiations bring an end to a frightening period in which nuclear war seemed imminent. Since US President John F. Kennedy send a warning to the Soviets on October 22 for them to cease their reckless program to put nuclear weapons in Cuba and announced a naval “quarantine” against additional weapons shipments into Cuba, the world held its breath waiting to see whether the two superpowers would come to blows. US armed forces went on alert and the Strategic Air Command went to a Stage 4 alert (one step away from nuclear attack). On October 24, millions waited to see whether Soviet ships bound for Cuba carrying additional missiles would try to break the US naval blockade around the island. At the last minute, the vessels turned around and returned to the Soviet Union. On October 26, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev responded to the quarantine by sending a long and rather disjointed letter to Kennedy offering a deal: Soviet ships bound for Cuba would “not carry any kind of armaments” if the United States vowed never to invade Cuba.
He followed this with another letter the next day offering to remove the missiles from Cuba if the United States would remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey. Kennedy and his officials debated the proper US response to these offers and ultimately devised an acceptable plan: take up Khrushchev’s first offer and ignore the second letter. Although the US had been considering the removal of the missiles from Turkey for some time, agreeing to the Soviet demand for their removal might give the appearance of weakness. The reply was accompanied by a threat: If the Cuban missiles were not removed in two days, the United States would resort to military action. Then it would be Khrushchev’s turn to consider an offer to end the standoff.
New York City subway opens
Also on this day in 1904, a new rapid transit system – the subway – opens in New York City.
While London boasts the world’s oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first US subway in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. More than 100,000 people paid a nickel each to take their first ride under Manhattan, in a one-line system that initially traveled 9.1 miles through 28 stations. It presently counts 26 lines and 468 stations. The longest line, the 8th Avenue “A” Express train, stretches more than 32 miles, from the northern tip of Manhattan to the far southeast corner of Queens.
Every day, some 4.5 million passengers take the subway in New York, the only rapid transit system in the world that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the exception of the PATH train connecting New York with New Jersey and some parts of Chicago’s elevated train system.
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