What happened in 1931?

The Empire State Building is completed in May, after a 14-month building period. Standing 448 metres tall, it is the tallest building in the world until the completion of the first tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan in 1972. As of September 11, 2001 the Empire State Building is once again the highest building in New York City.
Spain becomes a republic (the so-called Second Spanish Republic) with the overthrow of King Alfonso XIII. The revolutionary committee becomes the provisional government, naming Niceto Alcala Zamora president. A new constitution is drafted.
The Mukden Incident begins Japanese occupation of Manchuria.
The planned capital of New Delhi opens in India.
Gangster Al Capone sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion, although he is eventually freed in 1939 and dies in 1947.
The Scottsboro trial begins, exposing the depth of Southern racism.
"The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key officially becomes the national anthem.
There are nearly 30,000 television sets in the United States; 9,000 of them are in New York City alone.
Double features emerge as a way for the unemployed to occupy time.
General Motors's Frigidaire makes refrigerators safe for household use.
Karl Jansky begins the science of radio astronomy as he observes interference in the form of hissing sounds coming from beyond the earth's atmosphere.
Harold Urey discovers heavy water.
An electron microscope is developed by Vladimir Zworykin and James Hillier.

U.S. Statistics
President: Herbert C. Hoover
Vice President: Charles Curtis
Population: 124,039,648
Federal spending: $3.58 billion
Consumer Price Index: 15.2
Unemployment: 16.3%

Entertainment Awards
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: Years of Grace, Margaret Ayer Barnes
Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Alison's House, Susan Glaspell

Academy Award for Best Picture: Cimarron (RKO Radio)
Academy Award for Best Actor: Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul
Academy Award for Best Actress: Marie Dressler, Min and Bill
Academy Award for Directing: Norman Taurog, Skippy

Nobel Prize for Literature: Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Sweden) for "The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt". Interpret this how you will - it is the official motivation offered by the 1931 Nobel jury.
Nobel Prize for Chemistry: Karl Bosch and Friedrich Bergius (Germany), "in recognition of their contributions to the invention and development of chemical high pressure methods".
Nobel Prize for Physics: No Nobel prize was awarded during 1931, the prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
Nobel Prize for Medicine: Otto H. Warburg (Germany), for discovery of the character and mode of action of the respiratory ferment.
Nobel Peace Prize: Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler(USA)

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Nobel Prize quotes from www.nobel.se
  • The world-famous Scottsboro affair begins when nine black men are arrested on false charges at a train stop in Paint Rock, Alabama. The African-American youths were tried in Scottsboro, Ala., on charges of having raped two white women in a freight car passing through Alabama. The nine were sentenced to death or to 75 to 99 years in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court twice reversed the convictions on procedural grounds. At the second trial one of the women completely contradicted her own previous testimony. In 1937, charges against five were dropped. Three others were freed in the 1940s, and the last escaped in 1948 to Michigan, which refused to return him to Alabama. The last known surviving "Scottsboro boy" was pardoned by Alabama's parole board and governor in 1976.

  • Now that Nevada has a 6-week residency law for divorce-seekers, it soon becomes a haven for divorce. Las Vegas, the city known for 30 second marriage chappels, is now a home for undoing those marriages in 30 seconds.

  • A 34-year-old Baptist preacher named Elijah Poole joins the Nation of Islam and becomes Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Black Muslims. On the disappearance of Wali Farad in 1934, he assumed complete leadership of the Temple of Islam in Detroit, the sect that became the Black Muslims. Preaching black separatism, Muhammad called himself the messenger of Allah and exercised autocratic control over his followers through a moral-based doctrine of social change. When he died, his son, Wallace D. Muhammad, became the movement's leader. He has moved the sect closer to orthodox Islam and lifted restrictions on political activity and military service.

  • A 27-year-old Salvador Dali paints dripping clocks into his surrealist classic, "The Persistence of Memory". The oil-on-canvas painting was done in Spain, and ended up being a meager 9 1/2 x 13 in. Reproductions of the painting are often much larger than this, and have lead to the illusion that the painting is a huge work of art. It currently resides in the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, USA.

  • Chicago mobster Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion. In this blow to organized crime, Capone is sentenced to 11 years in jail and a $50,000 fine. Capone was famous for his life of rutheless gangster crime, and leading the Capone family in countless anarchistic acts. The irony of his arrest is that all the government could pin on him was tax evasion, even though they knew he had killed countless dozens of people in cold blood.

  • General Motors's "Frigidaire" replaces ammonia with Freon 12 refrigerant gas, making refrigerators safe for households around the industrialized world. Ammonia (NH3)is widely used as a household cleaner, and is intended to be used only with proper ventalation. In the event that a pipe broke in the back of the refrigerator, the leak would cause major problems. Like most chemicals, inhaleing large amounts ammonia can cause health risks. Freon 12 (dichlorodifluoromethane CCl2F2) is much safer, and performs the cooling job much better than ammonia.

  • Unemployed Americans march on the White House, demanding a national program of employment at a minimum wage. They are turned away. For more, see The Great Depression.

  • Japan occupies Manchuria, marking the rise of Japanese militarism and drawing a hard-line stance from Secretary of State Henry Stimson. Japan goes on to become a major axis power in WWII, thanks to the army it builds up from the decade before.

  • "The Star Spangled Banner," originally written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, becomes the American national anthem by order of Congress. Before that time, citizens took up town, family, or state anthems.

    "It was the valiant defense of Fort McHenry by American forces during the British attack on September 13, 1814 that inspired 35-year old, poet-lawyer Francis Scott Key to write the poem which was to become our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The poem was written to match the meter of the English song, "To Anacreon in Heaven." In 1931 the Congress of The United States of America enacted legislation that made "The Star-Spangled Banner" the official national anthem."
    -Fort McHenry (http://www.bcpl.net/~etowner/anthem.html)
  • In China, the Chang (also known as the Yangtze) River bursts a dam, causing fatal damage in the form of floods, famine, and mass deaths. The river is 3,450 miles (5,550 km) long, and longest river in Asia.

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(List of sources used in this writeup is found on 1930. This is part 2 of a 10 node set for 1930-1939)

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