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Back in the Day: building starts on the White House

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Back in the Day: building starts on the White House


October 13, 1792. Construction begins on the United States Executive Mansion, now known as the White House, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the newly-constructed American capital, Washington D.C. It was designed by Irish architect James Hoban, who was chosen from a list of candidates by then-President George Washington. The residence was built out of sandstone by a mix of enslaved and free African-Americans and European immigrant workers. Eight years after work began, John Adams became the first president to take up residence in the building. It had to be rebuilt after British soldiers set fire to it in 1814 in retaliation for the burning of Canadian government buildings by US troops. The term ‘White House’ was used informally from the early 19th century and became the official name under Theodor Roosevelt in 1901. Roosevelt also oversaw the addition of the West Wing, containing the Oval Office, for the day-to-day work of the presidential team. An East Wing was also built for social events and is usually where visitors are welcomed. In 2007, the American Institute of Architecture ranked it the USA’s second favourite piece of architecture after the Empire State Building.

Also on October 13: Greenwich in London becomes the Universal Time meridian of 0 longitude (1884); Ankara becomes the capital of Turkey (1923); Copiapo minig accident: 33 miners are rescued after 69 days trapped in a mine in Chile (2010).

Born on October 13: Yves Montand (1921), Margaret Thatcher (1925), Nana Mouskouri (1934), Paul Simon (1941), Sacha Baron Cohen (1971).

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