Edwin Land and the Instant Camera

Edwin Herbert Land, a Harvard drop-out, demonstrated the first instant camera (soon to become the Polaroid Land Camera) on this date in 1947. Land had already founded the Polaroid company in 1937 after inventing an inexpensive polarizing filter used in film, sunglasses, optical microscopes, and other gadgets. He later served as a scientific adviser under the […]

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Ellis Island

On this date in 1892, a federal immigration depot opened at Ellis Island in New York harbor, replacing the Castle Garden immigration center, which had processed eight million immigrants during the previous thirty-five years. In Ellis Island’s busiest year, 1907, more than a million immigrants were processed. It became known as the “Island of Tears,” but only […]

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January 21: The Ellis Island of the West

The Angel Island Immigration Station was opened in the San Francisco Bay on this date in 1910, to serve as the portal — and detention center, often for months at a time — for immigrants entering the U.S. The facility was created primarily to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which allowed entry only […]

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