On This Day, November 18

At exactly noon on November 18, 1883, American and Canadian railroads begin using four continental time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times. The bold move was emblematic of the power shared by the railroad companies. The need for continental time zones stemmed directly from the problems of moving passengers and freight over the thousands of miles of rail line that covered North America by the 1880s. Most towns in the U.S. had their own local time, generally based on “high noon,” or the time when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. As railroads began to shrink the travel time between cities from days or months to mere hours, however, these local times became a scheduling nightmare. Railroad timetables in major cities listed dozens of different arrival and departure times for the same train, each linked to a different local time zone. It was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Now boarding at the library and hoopla trains to imagination and dreams.



On November 18, 1978, Billy Joel earned his first #1 album when his sixth release, 52nd Street, hit the top of the Billboard pop chart. 52nd Street, which included the radio hits “Big Shot,” “My Life” and “Honesty,” achieved that feat, and remained at the top of the charts for the next seven straight weeks, becoming the top-selling album of the year. It also went on to earn Billy Joel his first Album of the Year award at the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards in February 1980. Find Billy Joel uptown at the library and on Freegal.


Margaret Eleanor Atwood, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. was born in Ottawa, Canada on November 18, 1939. She has written award-winning poetry, short-stories and novels, including The Circle Game (1966), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Snowbird (1981), The Blind Assassin (2000), The Tent (2006) and more. Atwood is also the inventor, and developer, of the LongPen and associated technologies that facilitate the remote robotic writing of documents. Find Margaret Atwood at the library, on hoopla, and on OverDrive.

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