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12 Things That Were Happening The Last Time There Was A Total Solar Eclipse In The US

1918 was the last time the US underwent a coast-to-coast solar eclipse. It also marked the end of World War I and the first Tarzan movie.

Posted on August 16, 2017, at 1:01 p.m. ET

Total eclipses don’t happen often in the US, which is why the one happening on Aug. 21, 2017 will be a big deal.

The last time there was a comparable eclipse in the US — one that, like this year’s will, crossed all the way from the Pacific to the Atlantic — was June 8, 1918. (That eclipse’s path stretched from Washington state to Florida, while the upcoming one will go from Oregon to South Carolina.)

Denver Post / Via

That was 99 years ago! So besides the moon blocking out the sun, what else was going on in 1918?

1. Renting an apartment in the US cost an average of $178 — a year.

Courtesy / Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-26050 / Via

That’s a decent chunk of change, considering that the average family income was $1,518, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, a pound of steak cost 37 cents, five pounds of flour cost 34 cents, and a pound of butter went for a whopping 58 cents.

2. Cars looked like this!

Courtesy / Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-55132 / Via

This is silent-film star Mary Pickford, probably on her way to a glamorous Hollywood shindig.

3. Woodrow Wilson was the 28th POTUS.

Courtesy / Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-6247 / Via

4. The Boston Red Sox triumphed in the 1918 World Series, defeating the Chicago Cubs 4–2.

P. Lorillard Co. - / Via

They didn't win again until 2004. Ouch.

5. World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (11 a.m. Paris time on Nov. 11, 1918).

U.S. Army - U.S. National Archive / Via

More than four years after it began, the fighting ended when Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies and effectively accepted total blame for starting the war. Within Germany, anger at the Treaty of Versailles and the harsh provisions it imposed led to the rise of radical right-wing parties, including the Nazis.

Nine million soldiers died and 21 million were injured over the course of World War I, and at least 5 million civilians also died.

6. But even more people died from a massive flu pandemic that broke out the same year.

U.S. Army photographer / Via

Also known as the Spanish flu of 1918–19, it would kill between 20 and 50 million people.

So times were tough. But there were some lighter moments, too.

7. The first of many Tarzan films, Tarzan of the Apes, hit theaters. It was silent, of course.

First National Pictures Inc / Via

It grossed $1 million, making it one of the year's most popular movies.

8. Twins Esther Pauline and Pauline Esther Friedman (the future “Ask Ann Landers” and “Dear Abby”) were born in Sioux City, Iowa.

John Gaps III / Associated Press

Other famous 1918 babies: Nelson Mandela (future president of South Africa), Ingmar Bergman (future director of films like Wild Strawberries), and Sam Walton (future founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club).

9. William Strunk Jr. penned the classic guide to grammar and prose, The Elements of Style.


I wonder how he’d feel about emojis.

10. Daylight saving time became official when Congress signed it into law on March 19, 1918.

Courtesy / Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-50987 / Via

Here are some other things you probably didn’t know about it.

11. A tornado hit the town of Codell, Kansas, on May 20 — for the third year in a row.

Vchal / Getty Images

In an extremely freaky coincidence, it had also been hit by a tornado on the same day in 1916 and 1917.

12. And America was getting worried about…Russia.

Photographer unknown; public domain / Via

A pair of revolutions in Russia in 1917 led to the ouster of the czarist regime and the rise of the Bolsheviks, a group of socialists led by Vladimir Lenin. In 1918, Allies intervened in the Russian civil war to support anti-Communist forces. That tension forged in Americans a deep sense of hostility toward the Soviet Union.

Fortunately, America and Russia have been on great terms ever since!

See all of BuzzFeed's eclipse stories here, and buy your BuzzFeed eclipse viewing glasses here!

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.