Amsterdam Damrak Boulevard design

Unbuilt Amsterdam

Amsterdam could have had a Parisian-style boulevard.

Around the turn of the last century, the city council accepted proposals for a new commodity exchange. It initially favored a design sponsored by hotelier W.P. Werker, who would have demolished a whole street of buildings between the Dutch capital’s central railway station and the Royal Palace on the Dam Square to create something of a miniature Champs-Élysées.

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1942 Europe map

The Nazi Conquest of Europe in Maps

World War II started in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland and Britain and France declared war. But the Nazi conquest of Europe started years earlier.

In 1935, the coal-rich Saarland rejoined the Reich. The following year, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty. Austria and what is now the Czech Republic were annexed in 1938.

At the height of his power, Hitler ruled an empire stretching from the Franco-Spanish border in the southwest to Svalbard (Spitsbergen) in the north to the Caucasus in the east. Here is a short history of how it happened — with maps!

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Project Habakkuk artwork

Unsinkable British Aircraft Carrier — On Ice!

In 1942, the War in the Atlantic was not going well for the Allies. German submarines, operating in “wolf packs” just out of aircraft range, wrecked havoc on Allied supply lines. In the first half of the year, the Allies managed to sink just one U-boat for every forty merchant ships lost. At that rate, Britain would soon run out of matériel to sustain the war.

Atlantic Ocean map
Map of the military situation in the Atlantic in mid-1941, from Life magazine (July 21, 1941)

Lord Louis Mountbatten, as chief of Combined Operations, was responsible for coming up with a solution. He encouraged his department to explore every possibility, no matter how outlandish. One of the ideas, which originated with the inventor Geoffrey Pyke, was to built an aircraft carrier out of ice, which would allow the Allies to attack German U-boats no matter how far they sailed from the coast. The reason Pyke settled on ice was that aluminum and steel were in such short supply.

Mountbatten and Prime Minister Winston Churchill were enthusiastic.

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1962 nuclear weapons test

Soviets Considered Creating Artificial Islands for Nuclear Bases

In the late 1950s, the Soviet Union was at a disadvantage in the Cold War. Whereas the United States had missiles in Europe and Turkey that could reach Russia within minutes, North America was far away from Soviet bombs.

Moreover, the Soviet Union had only a few dozen long-range missiles against hundreds on the American side. As a result, the Soviets felt vulnerable to a first strike.

In May 1959, a group of Soviet military engineers proposed to remedy this imbalance by constructing twenty to 25 artificial islands in waters around the United States for nuclear bases.

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Ephemeral States of the Russian Civil War map

Ephemeral States of the Russian Civil War

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, many states were proclaimed in the territory of the former Russian Empire. Some were ethnic minorities looking for autonomy. Others were warlords claiming legitimacy through the veneer of a state. Others yet were proto-Soviet republics that were later incorporated into the USSR.

PisseGuri82” has created a beautiful map of these ephemeral states of the Russian Civil War.

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Tamara de Lempicka artwork

The Art of Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara Łempicka (1898-1980), known as Tamara de Lempicka, was a Polish artist who lived in Paris between the world wars and relocated to the United States in 1939.

Her breakthrough came at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which gave its name to the Art Deco movement. She exhibited her paintings in two of the exhibition’s venues, where they were spotted by journalists from Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion magazines. Exhibitions in Italy and the United States followed.

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Jungle Book Jive Disneyland Paris France

The Lion King and Jungle Festival

The Lion King and Jungle Festival premiered in Disneyland Paris this summer. The event comprised, as you can guess from the name, all sorts of bits and bobs from The Lion King and The Jungle Book. Which was quite clever, considering the recent live-action releases of both movies.

Over the last few years, Disneyland Paris has been stepping up their game when it comes to additional shows and parades for their temporary events, and this was no different. Rather than combining the two movies, they had a Lion King-themed show called Rhythm of the Pride Lands with a little dance from Timon called MataDance (it was 40°C the day I was there, so I skipped that in favor of shade) and you could meet Rafiki during a special lunch at the restaurant Hakuna Matata.

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