May 6, 1994. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and French president François Mitterand officially open the Channel Tunnel, the first fixed link between their two countries. Plans for a tunnel or bridge across the Straight of Dover had been mooted since the beginning of the 19th Century but fears over national security issues meant they had never come to fruition. Construction finally began in 1988. There are actually two rail tunnels running either side of one service tunnel over a length of 50.5 kilometers. At around 12 billion euros in today’s prices, costs were 80 percent more than originally forecast. In 2010 around 17 million passengers and 15 million tonnes of freight passed through the tunnel, which is listed by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Also on May 6: The Eiffel Tower becomes open to the public (1889); the German zeppelin ‘Hindenburg’ catches fire in New Jersey (1937); Roger Bannister becomes the first person to run a mile in under four minutes (1954); In Syria John Paul II becomes the first pope to enter a mosque (2001)
Born on May 6: Sigmund Freud (1856), Orson Welles (1915), Tony Blair (1953), George Clooney (1961).