Happy Birthday, Leo!

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of Hollywood’s most formidable actors, and has been for more than 20 years. The icon, who turns 46 on November 11, is known for starring in groundbreaking, unconventional, and blockbuster films, as well as being a serial dater, always having an up and coming model or actress as a girlfriend or companion.

In addition to starring and producing in films, he also spends much of his time as an environmentalist, and manages to find time to invest in real estate ventures across the US and around the world. If your net worth was more than $260 million, you might dabble in property development, too!

Let’s take a look at some of the places Leo might be celebrating his birthday this year.

Riverhouse Condominium, New York, NY

Leo spends a big chunk of his time in New York City, and has an expansive pad in the eco-chic Riverhouse Condominium, which has features including double filtered air, a gorgeous lap pool for residents, a yoga studio, and 24/7 concierge service.

Leo bought his first unit in the building in 2008 for about $3.7 million, and then bought the unit next door for $8 million in 2014. The combined space is over 2,000 square feet, and includes a 1,035 square foot terrace that overlooks the Hudson River.

Riverhouse Condominiums (Birds Eye)
Riverhouse Condominiums

Private Island, Belize

While he won’t likely spend his birthday here, Leo may spend some time on his birthday working on one of his pet causes: protecting the environment.

He bought an entire island, Blackadore Cay, in 2005, for about $1.75 million. He had the dream of creating an eco-hotel for people to come and visit Belize and see the country’s beauty, all while leaving a neutral or positive impact on fragile ecosystems of the rain forest and ocean. He’s been working since then to obtain the necessary permits and permissions, but has met several significant delays.

As of November 2020, the opening date is still in question, but it’s no doubt going to be an amazing experience once it’s ready to host visitors.

Leonardo DiCaprio's private island (Google Maps)
Leonardo DiCaprio's private island

Tiny Bungalow in Malibu, CA

Leonardo bought a tiny, 610 foot bungalow in desirable Malibu in 2016. He paid a whopping $23 million for the house and the 1.76 acres it sits on. It’s a whole lot of money, considering he’s probably going to tear down the existing structure to build something he prefers more. When he’s done, it’s sure to be gorgeous, environmentally-friendly, and impeccably decorated.

Leonardo DiCaprio's House (Google Maps)
Leonardo DiCaprio's House

Rental Home in Malibu, CA

One of the first things he bought after the success of Titanic, this 1,765 foot home in Malibu has been in his portfolio longer than just about any other property.

He paid $1.6 million for it in 1999, and tried to sell it in 2016. After failing to find a buyer at the $10.95 million price tag, he put it up for rent for about $190,000/month.

In addition to the four-bedroom main house, the property includes a two-bedroom guesthouse, and a loft with an extra bedroom, gym, and office. Rumor has it the place is back on the market for around $2 million, a much more realistic price point, even for Malibu.

Leonardo DiCaprio's House (Birds Eye)
Leonardo DiCaprio's House

Two Homes in Hollywood Hills, CA

Back in 1999, when he was still a fresh-faced newbie, Leonardo bought a lovely home from Madonna in the Hollywood Hills. He paid $2.15 million for the home, which he has since gutted and remodeled, giving it an estimated $7 million value. He has also added a basketball court, a state of the art security system, and put the estate on solar, keeping with his environmentally-friendly values.

Leonardo DiCaprio's House (Google Maps)
Leonardo DiCaprio's House

He also bought the house next door in 2003, for about $3.78 million. The 4,000 square foot home is just one of many amazing properties Leo owns, but doesn’t spend much time living in. When you’re one of the most sought-after and highest-paid actors in Hollywood, it’s just no big deal to have a spare mansion.

Leonardo DiCaprio's House (Birds Eye)
Leonardo DiCaprio's House

The birthday boy certainly has a lot to be grateful for as he celebrates his birthday, and things are always looking up for him, even as he gets a little older.

November’s Deep Dive into History: Assassination of JFK

Every month, we’re going to take a deep dive into history, looking at one event that was important, remarkable, or impacted things in the world.

This month, we’re going to look at the life of President John F. Kennedy, and his assassination on November 22, 1963.

Birthplace of John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was the second of nine children born to Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy, and one of three brothers who had successful careers in politics.

His family lived in the home for six years, but moved a few blocks away, as they needed more room when Rose was pregnant with her fifth child. The Kennedys lived in the Boston suburb for the first ten years of John’s life.

35th President of the USA - John F. Kennedy's birthplace (StreetView)
35th President of the USA - John F. Kennedy's birthplace

Riverdale, New York Home

The Kennedys moved to New York City, in part to avoid some of the discrimination against Irish Americans in Boston. Their home had 20 rooms spread across three floors, and sits on 1.3 acres, a massive estate in New York City. However, the family only lived here two years, as Joseph wanted an even grander house for his family, to demonstrate their upward mobility.

Kennedy Family Home (Birds Eye)
Kennedy Family Home

Kennedy Compound

The Kennedy family spent their summers in the “Kennedy Compound” in Hyannis Port, MA.

The compound is made up of three houses on six acres of waterfront property on the island of Cape Cod. John F. Kennedy used the compound as his presidential campaign headquarters, and later as a “Summer White House” while he was president.

Edward “Ted” Kennedy, who represented Massachusetts as a US Senator for nearly 50 years, also had a home on the property. He lived there from 1982 until his death in 2007.

Kennedy Compound (Birds Eye)
Kennedy Compound

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ Childhood Homes

While John was growing up in New York, his future wife, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, was growing up in Virginia and Rhode Island. She was born on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York, but moved at a young age to Merrywood in McLean, Virginia when her mom married Standard Oil heir Hugh Auchincloss.

Childhood Home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Google Maps)
Childhood Home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline’s family also spent time in Newport, Rhode Island, in a home called Hammersmith Farm. This is where she married John F. Kennedy when he was a US Senator on September 12, 1953.

Later, the family spent part of their summers here during his tenure as president, giving it the nickname of “Summer White House” alongside the Kennedy Compound.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' childhood home (Hammersmith Farm) (Birds Eye)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' childhood home (Hammersmith Farm)

Hickory Hill, McLean, VA

John and Jacqueline bought a home named Hickory Hill in the DC suburb of McLean, Virginia, in 1955. However, they only lived here for about a year before selling the property to Robert Kennedy and his wife Ethel, to house their growing family.

John F. Kennedy's Hickory Hill (Birds Eye)
John F. Kennedy's Hickory Hill

The White House

On November 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president, and was sworn in as President of the United States on January 20, 1961. He and his family moved into the White House, where they lived for nearly three years.

During that time, Jacqueline made a great effort to restore the “People’s House” to its original grandeur and created the Rose Garden, a beautiful and lasting legacy of their time as First Family.

White House, The (Google Maps)
White House, The

Dealy Plaza

In November 1963, President Kennedy and his wife took a trip to Texas to work out some political issues and visit the people of Texas. On November 22, the couple, along with the Governor of Texas John Connally and his wife, were in a motorcade driving through Dealy Plaza in downtown Dallas when, at 12:30 pm, the president and the governor were both shot.

Dealey Plaza (Google Maps)
Dealey Plaza

X Marks the Spot

In an effort to preserve the memory of the president and the tragic events, many of the signs, buildings, and other features near Dealy Plaza have been protected. Additionally, an X painted on the street marks the spot where the 35th president was shot and assassinated.

The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot (StreetView)
The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot

Parkland Memorial Hospital

The Secret Service quickly realized what had happened, and the president was rushed to Parkland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about thirty minutes after being shot.

Later that day, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.

Old Parkland Hospital (Google Maps)
Old Parkland Hospital

Dallas Municipal Building

Less than 90 minutes after the shooting, Dallas police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald for the shooting. He was held at the Dallas Municipal Building, where the police were headquartered.

On November 24, Oswald was being moved to another jail when he was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. This murder prevented Oswald from being given a fair trial and the opportunity to confirm many of the details of the assassination.

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Burial Spot in Arlington Cemetery

President Kennedy was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia.

His wife felt his final resting place should be a public memorial to him and his legacy, as he died serving the American people. At his tomb is an eternal flame to keep his memory alive.

John F. Kennedy burial site (Google Maps)
John F. Kennedy burial site

Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester, MA

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is located next to the University of Massachusetts in the Dorchester area of Boston.

The building was designed by renowned architect I. M. Pei.

This is the official repository for Kennedy’s papers, presidential material, and correspondence. It is also a museum to the 35th president and his term in office.

'John F. Kennedy Presidential Library' by I. M. Pei (Birds Eye)
'John F. Kennedy Presidential Library' by I. M. Pei

John F. Kennedy only lived to be 46, but he has left an imprint on the national memory, and will always be remembered as a dynamic, forward-thinking leader who was not afraid to face the challenges of his day head on and work to advance the causes of democracy and freedom around the world. He started the Peace Corps, advanced the US space program, appointed the first African American Supreme Court Justice, and raised the reputation of the US around the world.

For this and more, he will always be remembered.

Homes and Crime Scenes of American Serial Killers

It’s hard to imagine the depravity that leads someone to kill another human, but some among us are wired differently and find pleasure, satisfaction or release in taking the lives of others. Serial killers are even more depraved, repeating the heinous act over and over again. While we will never fully know what causes someone to become a serial killer, it often starts in their youth, and is tied to their family life.

Let’s look at the childhood homes and crime scenes of some of America’s most infamous serial killers.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer was born in Wisconsin but spent most of his formative years in Bath, Ohio. Initially a happy child, he quickly descended into isolation and alcoholism, and demonstrated an overintense curiosity in dissecting and preserving dead animals. He committed his first murder shortly after graduating high school, likely an unplanned act.

Jeffrey Dahmer's Childhood Home (StreetView)
Jeffrey Dahmer's Childhood Home

Starting in 1987 he began murdering gay or bisexual men inside the home he shared with his grandmother and disposing of their bodies in various ways. He moved into an apartment where he developed several rituals, including posing the bodies and saving and preserving body parts, in addition to committing sexual acts.

In 1991 he was caught when a potential victim escaped and found police. When the police arrived, they found his apartment was a working crime scene. He was found guilty of murdering at least 17 men, and confessing to the details of the murders. He was sentenced to 16 life terms, but was beaten to death in prison in 1994.

The apartment complex where he murdered most of his victims was razed to the ground, and the lot has never been developed since.

Site of Jeffrey Dahmer's Apartment (Google Maps)
Site of Jeffrey Dahmer's Apartment

John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy spent an unhappy childhood in Chicago, Illinois, where his alcoholic father beat him and the rest of his family regularly. After high school, he worked for a short time as a mortuary assistant, where he had his first encounters with corpses. He went to college, married, had a family and a good career. However, after a sexual incident with a young man, he served time in prison and had to start his life over.

He moved to Norwood Park, where his encounters with young unconsenting young men continued. His first murder was an accident, but he realized that there was an “ultimate thrill” in killing. His killing spree ramped up between 1976 and 1978, when he killed at least 33 teens and young men. He buried most of them on his property.

He was eventually discovered and prosecuted for his crimes. After the jury deliberated for only two hours, he was convicted of 33 murders and sentenced to death. He was executed on May 10, 1994. The house where Gacy murdered his victims was razed to the ground and another home has since been constructed on the site.

John Wayne Gacy's house (former) (Birds Eye)
John Wayne Gacy's house (former)

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy was born in Vermont to a single mother. They lived in Philadelphia for three years before moving to Tacoma, Washington. There, she met and married Johnny Bundy, who adopted Ted. They lived in the West End until Bundy went to college.

Serial Killer Ted Bundy's Childhood Home (StreetView)
Serial Killer Ted Bundy's Childhood Home

While crimes similar to Bundy’s MO started in the early 1970s in the Pacific Northwest, he was always vague about his early murders. Some believe he began killing as early as age 14. Bundy killed women throughout the Seattle area, then in Utah, Idaho and Colorado, when he moved to Salt Lake City to attend law school. It is believed he may have murdered women in his apartment there, and it was known he kept body parts and mementos from the murders.

Ted Bundy's Apartment (former) (Birds Eye)
Ted Bundy's Apartment (former)

In 1976 he was arrested for attempted kidnapping and sentenced to prison, then prosecuted in Colorado for a murder. While in prison awaiting trial, he escaped and made his way to Florida, where he quickly began killing again. He was arrested in February 1978 on unrelated charges but police quickly tied him to his crimes.

Juries found him guilty in multiple trials and sentenced him to death. Bundy confessed to killing 30 women, but police believe he killed 100 or more. He was executed in Florida on January 24, 1989. Police officers and others tied to the crimes celebrated at his death.

Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi

Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi were cousins who together became serial killers known as the Hillside Stranglers.

Buono was born in 1934 in Rochester, New York, and quickly developed a long rap sheet with the police for both petty and violent crimes. By age 41, he was living in California. He was a pimp, holding women as prisoners and forcing them into prostitution. In 1977, he became partners with his cousin Bianchi, who was 20 years his junior and also had a long record of criminal activity. Buono and Bianchi began pimping together, assaulting women, and quickly escalated to murder.

Using fake badges and posing as undercover police officers, the men would cruise the Los Angeles area and force women into their car. They would then take them to Buono’s home, where they were assaulted, tortured, and then murdered. Over the course of about 15 months, they assaulted and killed at least ten women.

Bianchi was so brazen as to even apply for a job with the LA Police Department and participate in ride alongs with officers during the crime spree. To avoid detection, Bianchi moved to Washington, where he murdered two more women, but his sloppy technique led to his arrest and subsequent arrest of Buono. Both men were sentenced to life in prison. Buono died of a heart attack in 2002 and Bianchi is serving a life sentence in Washington.

Angelo Buono's House (former) (Google Maps)
Angelo Buono's House (former)

Unfortunately, there are many more serial killers than we’ll ever know, and this list covers just a few that got caught. Fortunately, your chances of being captured and killed by anyone, let alone a serial killer are less than your odds of winning the lottery. Just watch your back.

 

International Assassinations!

Murder has always been a common method of taking out enemies, whether it be a personal rival or political foe. When the murder is planned out in advance and executed in cold blood, it’s often referred to as an assassination.

Here are some of the most interesting and notorious international murders in history.

Franz Ferdinand-Sarajevo, Bosnia

While all deaths are tragic, the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the hands of a separatist assassin actually led to a world war and the deaths of more than 16 million people.

On June 28, 1914, the Archduke and his wife were traveling in Sarajevo, in the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina when a member of the Black Hand separatist group attempted to murder them with a grenade, which failed. Later in the day, they were riding to visit some victims when their driver got lost and drove into an ambush where the Archduke and his wife were shot and killed by another member of the group. The incident led to a series of treaties being called into force, leading to all the major countries of Europe and eventually the United States in the most destructive war the world had ever seen.

Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination (Google Maps)
Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination

Thomas Becket-Canterbury Cathedral, England

Thomas Becket was a British nobleman and eventually Chancellor to King Henry II. He was so trusted by the king that when the Archbishop of Canterbury died, he appointed Becket as the new Archbishop even though Becket wasn’t even a priest! However, Becket took his religious calling seriously and refused to bend the will of the church to that of the king, who eventually allegedly called for him to be assassinated.

On December 29, 1170, four knights of the king’s service approached Becket in Canterbury Cathedral and stabbed him to death. After his murder, religious followers throughout England and Europe began to venerate him and he was canonized a saint in 1173. Pilgrims and well-wishers can visit Canterbury Cathedral, although Becket’s bones were destroyed by King Henry VIII.

Canterbury Cathedral (Bing Maps)
Canterbury Cathedral

Gandhi-New Dehli, India

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 in India, and while living abroad in South Africa, became an activist for civil rights. He led India’s movement for independence from Great Britain using only nonviolent means, and in 1947, the country was granted its independence. However, many people felt his methods were too accommodating to Great Britain and Pakistan during the post-liberation negotiations.

Gandhi was shot three times by Nathuram Godse in New Dehli on January 30, 1948. He died immediately or nearly immediately, and the entire country mourned his death. Over two million attended his funeral procession. The site of his death was turned into a memorial so that the country could continue to pay their respects to their country’s liberator.

The Martyr's Column (assassination of Mahatma Gandhi) (Google Maps)
The Martyr's Column (assassination of Mahatma Gandhi)

Caesar-Rome, Italy

“Beware the Ides of March” is an old saying that warns of bad things happening in the near future. According to legend, Julius Caesar, the first dictator of ancient Rome, was given this warning from a seer, foretelling he would be dead before the day was over. As Caesar made his way toward the Senate, a group of his friends and peers who were upset with his recent power grabs accosted him and stabbed him 23 times.

As Caesar was stabbed, he is said to have remarked to his favorite protege and follower “et tu, Brute?” meaning, “You too, Brutus?”. Once he realized that even his faithful follower had betrayed him, he surrendered to his fate.

Caesar’s murder was one of the most famous, and most impactful in history, as it led to an entire change in the political direction of the Roman Empire.

Julius Caesar's Murder Site (Google Maps)
Julius Caesar's Murder Site

Pope John Paul II-St. Peter’s Square, Vatican

Pope John Paul II was a very popular and well-regarded leader of the Catholic faith from 1978-2005. He was born in Poland in 1920, and grew up under Nazi rule in Warsaw. Through the years, he was elevated in the ranks of the Catholic Church, eventually becoming elected Pope in 1978 after the untimely death of Pope John Paul I.

On May 13, 1981, he was entering St. Peter’s Square in an open vehicle, greeting the crowd when a lone gunman Mehmet Ali Agca shot him three times, severely wounding him. However, apparently the man of God was watched over that day, because he survived the attack and even forgave his shooter. No concrete motive or theory could explain the shooting.

St. Peter's Square (Google Maps)
St. Peter's Square

One significant result of the shooting was that from then on, the Pope nearly always traveled in a specially designed vehicle that allowed the leader to be visible to his followers while protected by bulletproof glass. Because of the unique design, the vehicle was nicknamed the “Popemobile” and it traveled with the leader wherever he went in the world.

Popemobile of 2016 (StreetView)
Popemobile of 2016

If nothing else, these tragic murders (and attempted murder) show that these crimes happen for mundane, random and insane reasons, and can have impacts that literally change the course of the world.

Cemeteries Across the United States

It’s October, the perfect time to spend time among the cemeteries, give ourselves a little spook, safe from the computer. Most cemeteries in the United States are peaceful resting places for our dearly departed loved ones, but there are some that stand out due to their historical importance, fame, reputation, or serenity.

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Arlington Cemetery is “America’s Cemetery”, the final resting place for over 400,000 military members, their families and renowned civil leaders including President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Thurgood Marshall.

Arlington National Cemetery (Google Maps)
Arlington National Cemetery

The cemetery is known for its rolling hills and uniform white headstones. Visitors can access maps and databases to locate their loved ones’ final resting places. The most hallowed portion of the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which houses unidentified remains of soldiers from several conflicts, and is watched over by a military guard day and night, rain or shine, including the brutal summer heat, terrible snow storms and even hurricanes.

Arlington
Photo Credit: AP

Bonaventure Cemetery, Georgia

Just east of Savannah, GA is the Bonaventure Cemetery, made famous in the book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and long acclaimed for its beautiful graves and tombs. Over 150 years old, the cemetery has large oak trees and Spanish moss, unique statues and tombs, and landscaping that evokes a time long past and a respect for those beyond the grave.

Bonaventure
Photo Credit: Bonaventure Historical Society

Most famous is the “Bird Girl” statue featured in the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, but the statue has since been moved to a local museum to better feature the statue while maintaining a respectful and peaceful atmosphere in the cemetery.

Bonaventure Cemetery (Google Maps)
Bonaventure Cemetery

Key West Cemetery, Florida

This cemetery on the edge of the United States was established in 1847, after an 1846 hurricane damaged other cemeteries on the island and bodies needed to be reburied quickly. It has an eclectic mix of residents, some having died long before the cemetery was created, others being unknown slaves, Cuban revolutionaries from the 1800s, and soldiers who died in the Spanish-American War on the USS Maine. There is a meaningful memorial to those Africans who died on the transatlantic journey to the United States to be sold as slaves.

Key West Cemetery (StreetView)
Key West Cemetery

The cemetery has a unique feel, blending a peaceful respect for the dead with well-known laid back island attitude famous to Key West. Pleasant palm trees and bright blue sun are contrasted with austere and ornate vaults, tombs and statues intermingled with broken and crumbling carvings tombstones and monuments. The cemetery is the final home to over 100,000 individuals, far surpassing the 30,000 living residents of the island.

Key West
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York

Located in Sleepy Hollow, New York, this cemetery is one of the most storied final resting places in the United States. Rolling hills, large trees and ancient statues contribute to the “haunted” feeling made famous in Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” that takes place in the old village.  Walking the winding pathways in the fall, one almost anticipates running into a headless horseman.

Sleepy Hollow cemetary (Google Maps)
Sleepy Hollow cemetary

Tours are available of historical sites within the cemetery, as well as of resting places of famous individuals including Washington Irving, Elizabeth Arden, William Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.

Sleepy Hollow
Photo Credit: SleepingHollowCemetary.org

These are just a few of the many interesting cemeteries across the country. If you’re not close to one of these, you can certainly go exploring in your own hometown and find unique, memorable or interesting stories in any cemetery!

This Month in History: October

There’s a lot going on in the world these days, and sometimes it can seem like things that happen now are more important than anything in the past. It’s nice to look back and see what important things have occurred in the past to make our world better, and what things have happened that we’ve survived.

Let’s look at some of the things that happened in Octobers past.

Panama Canal Returned to Panama

The Panama Canal is an engineering marvel, bridging the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the narrow isthmus of Panama in Central America. The United States began the project in order to cut the travel time from the East Coast to the West Coast by 6,000 miles.

The United States constructed the canal and maintained control for more than 60 years. But, after much protest by Panamanians wanting local control over the canal, the two countries agreed to give control of the canal back to Panama, starting October 1, 1979.

Panama Canal (Google Maps)
Panama Canal

Uganda Gains Independence from Great Britain

The people who live in what is now Uganda in Africa were first exposed to European traders and missionaries in the 1860s and 1870s, when they came looking for the source of the Nile river and trade routes. Shortly thereafter, Ugandan people were put under the “Ugandan Protectorate” by Great Britain.

This protectorate status lasted until October 9, 1962, when under Queen Elizabeth II, the country was granted independence and embraced as part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Since that time, the country has been independent, but often experiences political unrest and struggle for power.

Parliament of Uganda (Google Maps)
Parliament of Uganda

Nikita Khrushchev Pounds his Shoe at United Nations

After World War II, a “cold” war broke out between democratic countries led by the United States, and communist countries led by the Soviet Union. At a meeting of the heads of state of the members of the United Nations on October 12, 1960, the delegate from the Philippines was speaking out against communism, which enraged Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union. According to reports, he was so furious he removed his shoe and banged it on his table. This famous outburst was one of many, including the leader claiming that the Soviets would “bury” the Americans and win the war of global competition.

United Nations Headquarters Building (Google Maps)
United Nations Headquarters Building

Yale University is Founded

Fewer than 100 years after settling the area, colonists in Connecticut founded the first college in their colony, and the fourth in the entire colonies on October 16, 1701. The school formally changed its name to Yale College in 1718 after a benefactor. Since that time, Yale University has become one of the premier educational institutions in the world, and has educated five US presidents, as well as countless political leaders and business icons.

Yale (Google Maps)
Yale

Battle of Saratoga

The Battle of Saratoga in 1777 helped to turn the tide of the Revolution. British General John Burgoyne had a strategy to divide and conquer the American army, but he failed in two attempts in September and October, and was forced to surrender to American General Horatio Gates on October 17, 1777.

While this was just one of many battles, it showed French leaders that the American upstarts had a chance against the might of their enemy, the British, and joined the war on the side of the Americans. Their involvement was a critical point in helping America win her freedom from the British.

During the battle, American soldier Benedict Arnold was wounded in the leg. Later, he betrayed the country he fought for, but there’s still a monument to his service, in the shape of a boot no less!

Benedict Arnold's Boot Monument street view (StreetView)
Benedict Arnold's Boot Monument street view

US Invades Grenada

As dawn rose on October 25, 1983, US troops landed at the airport on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Over the previous few weeks, political instability had come to a breaking point, the leader overthrown and killed in riots, and unrest was growing worse. Grenada’s government requested international help, and because there were more than 600 US medical students on the island, President Reagan sent about 7,600 troops to restore peace to the country. The military action was over within a few days and with relatively few casualties.

Democratic elections were held in 1984, and the country has been democratic ever since.

Grenada Island (Google Maps)
Grenada Island

Shootout at the OK Corral

At 3:00 on October 26, 1881, the most famous gunfight in the Wild West took place in Tombstone, Arizona. After an old feud came to head between an outlaw gang and the police authorities in the small territory town, the five members of the Cowboys faced off against town Sheriff Virgil Earp, his brothers Morgan and Wyatt, and friend Doc Holliday. After 30 seconds of shooting, two outlaws were dead, the rest of the gang had scattered.

The feud didn’t end that day, and the two sides continued to settle scores for years.The shootout did not actually take place at the OK Corral, but down the street. Nonetheless, the OK Corral and Tombstone have become famous in American lore.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (StreetView)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

These are just a few stories from the vault of history showing us that important, interesting, and outlandish things happen all the time.

Who’s Having a Birthday in October?

Fall is in full swing, and it’s perfect weather for a bonfire birthday party! Let’s take a look at some of the celebrities who are having a birthday in October.

Brie Larson

Brie starts off the month with a bang, celebrating her birthday on October 1. The versatile actress got her start in comedies, but transitioned to independent and serious films in her early 20s. She has also starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest films as Captain Marvel, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero movies. Brie has been busy in the real estate market this last year, selling her Hollywood Hills home in August and buying not one but two new homes in December 2019.

The actress and director, who turns 31 this month, put down $3.5 million for a 2,100 square foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in very desirable Malibu. The beach side home also has a swimming pool in the yard accessible by a stone path.

Brie Larson's House (Google Maps)
Brie Larson's House

Brie also dropped $1.6 million for a home in Hidden Hills. This home has 3,500 square feet, five bedrooms, a three car garage, high-end ebony floors, and a gorgeous kitchen. The relatively small lot, just under a quarter acre, has a pool, of course, as well as a spa, a deck with a fire pit, and a jacuzzi.

Brie certainly has a good sense of real estate, and both places would be perfect for celebrating her birthday with friends!

Brie Larson's House (Google Maps)
Brie Larson's House

Kelly Ripa

Kelly Ripa has established her career as a down to earth, friendly and relatable host of her morning talk show “Live with Kelly and Ryan”. She and her family have two main homes, one in New York City, and one nearby in the Hamptons.

She’ll be turning 50 on October 2, and it’s likely she’ll celebrate with her family at their Hamptons home, where they’ve been spending much of their time this year due to Covid-19. They’ve owned the 5,000 square foot home since 2004, when they paid $2.35 million. Since then, they’ve done a lot of work on the home, and it has become a great place to make some great memories.

Kelly Ripa's house (Google Maps)
Kelly Ripa's house

The close-knit family usually resides in a townhome in NYC, to be close to Kelly’s daily show. The five-floor Upper East Side home has nearly 8,000 square feet and set them back $27 million. It even has a balcony with cherry trees, basically unheard of in Manhattan!

Kelly Ripa's House (Google Maps)
Kelly Ripa's House

Dakota Johnson

Dakota Johnson is Hollywood royalty by birth, with famous parents and grandparents. Only after finishing high school was she allowed to test the waters of showbiz, and it’s proven to be a good choice for the actress. She’s starred in a number of high-grossing films, including the 50 Shades of Gray franchise.

In 2016, she bought a mid-century modern house for $3.55 million, and has since made it look like a home. It has floor-to-ceiling glass walls, a gorgeous top-of-the line kitchen, and three bedrooms spread out among 3,000 square feet. This would be the perfect place for the famously private star to spend a low-key birthday as she turns 31 on October 4.

Dakota Johnson's House (StreetView)
Dakota Johnson's House

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell is a Hollywood mainstay, serving as a judge on various talent shows in the US and England. He’s also a producer, record executive, and businessman. He’s got homes across the world, but spends most of his time living in a lavish $24 million Malibu home.

Ironically, his recent effort to become more healthy led to him having a terrible accident on his e-bike in August, so he’s probably going to take a more relaxed approach to his birthday on October 7. This year, he’s turning 61, and maybe he’ll celebrate with his family at the six bedroom, seven bathroom mansion on 1.6 acres of beachfront property.

Simon Cowell's House (Birds Eye)
Simon Cowell's House

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump is having a busy fall, with her dad, President Donald Trump, in full campaign mode ahead of next month’s elections. Hopefully the supercharged mom of three, special advisor to the president, and entrepreneur will find time to celebrate her 39th birthday on October 30.

Because she’s so busy, she may not spend her birthday at her Washington, DC home that she rents for $15,000 a month along with her husband Jared Kushner and their kids. The historical mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood has 7,000 square feet of living space, and was completely remodeled in 2014. It has an open floor plan, six bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms, five fireplaces, and plenty of room for hosting political gatherings. Hopefully after the election, she can come back and have a belated birthday party with her loved ones.

Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner's House (StreetView)
Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner's House

These are a few of the celebrities celebrating October birthdays. If you’re celebrating another year on this planet, happy birthday to you, too!

 

 

 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett and the Supreme Court Nomination

On Saturday, September 26, 2020, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s position on the Supreme Court. Ginsberg died on Friday, September 18.

President Trump is pushing to have the seat filled before the November presidential election, which would be a record-setting pace for a nomination. In spite of Barrett’s recent consideration by the Senate, her confirmation process is sure to be contentious and difficult.

Amy Coney Barrett

Amy Coney Barrett was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, but moved to Indiana to attend the University of Notre Dame School of Law. She served for a time as a clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, took a short turn as a practicing attorney, and was a professor for about 17 years.

In 2017, she was appointed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, serving in South Bend, Indiana. She lives there with her husband, Jesse, and their seven children.

Amy Coney Barrett's House (Google Maps)
Amy Coney Barrett's House

Lindsey Graham

Steering her nomination through the Senate Judiciary Committee will be Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. He has served as the Chair of the Judiciary Committee since 2019. In 2016, he ran for president, but quickly dropped out when it became clear he had no path to the nomination.

He owns a town home in Washington, DC, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. In the past, he rented out part of the home, but has not done so recently.

Lindsey Graham's House (Google Maps)
Lindsey Graham's House

He also owns a 2,000 square foot in Seneca, South Carolina, which was valued around $215,000 in 2016.

Lindsey Graham's House (Google Maps)
Lindsey Graham's House

Mitch McConnell

Overseeing the entire process is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Republican senator from Kentucky is a keen politician, and if anyone can get Barrett approved in just a few weeks, McConnell can. Like many senators, he owns property both in Washington, DC and in his home state of Kentucky.

His DC townhouse is estimated to be worth around $2 million, and has about 3,000 square feet of living space.

Mitch McConnell's House (Google Maps)
Mitch McConnell's House

His Louisville home is estimated to be worth around $750,000, and has three bedrooms and two and a half baths spread out among 2,700 square feet. While owning two nice homes might be a stretch on a senator’s $175,000 salary, McConnell can afford this because his wife, Elaine Chao, has about $25 million inherited from her mother.

Mitch McConnell's House (Google Maps)
Mitch McConnell's House

Diane Feinstein

Heading up the opposition to Barrett will be Senator Diane Feinstein of California. She has been a senator since 1992, and is currently the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The 87 year old Democrat is one of the longest-serving senators, and will work very hard to oppose Barrett’s nomination. She did so during Barrett’s hearings in 2017 to the Appeals Court.

She and her husband Richard Blum live in one of the most famous and most desirable areas of San Francisco, right at the top of the Lyon Street Steps. They paid $16.5 million in 2006 for the gorgeous home with perfect views of the bay.

Diane Feinstein & Richard C. Blum's House (Google Maps)
Diane Feinstein & Richard C. Blum's House

Dirksen and Hart Senate Office Buildings

The hearings will be held in the Dirksen and Hart Senate Office Buildings. Much of the preparation will occur within the Judiciary Committee staff quarters in the Dirksen Building.

Dirksen Senate Office Building (Google Maps)
Dirksen Senate Office Building

Because the Judiciary Committee hearing rooms in the Dirksen Building is smaller, the hearings will be held in the Hart Building, right next to and connected to the Dirksen Building. It will be a big media spectacle, and there will be many people vying for a spot to witness the momentous hearings.

Hart Senate Office Building (Google Maps)
Hart Senate Office Building

Donald Trump

Overseeing the entire process will be President Donald Trump, who has a lot riding on the outcome of the nomination. He made the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination at the White House in the evening of Saturday, September 26, 2020.

Depending on how the process plays out, Trump may see a boost or a decided decline in support. This may impact how long he continues to live in the White House, just a few miles from the US Capitol Building.

The White House (StreetView)
The White House

US Supreme Court Building

Once the entire process is over, if Amy Coney Barrett is approved by the Senate, she will be sworn in in a public ceremony at the White House or Capitol. Then she will be sworn in during a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. Finally, she will be formally publically introduced at the Supreme Court as the newest associate justice.

US Supreme Court (StreetView)
US Supreme Court

No matter the outcome of this unprecedented process, it will be memorable and historic, and have lasting implications on the Supreme Court, the Senate, and politics in the United States.

Assassinations!

Politicians, civic leaders and royalty are often idolized, followed and even revered. Tragically, these leaders are sometimes stalked, harassed or even murdered in cold blood. When that happens, the scene of the assassination becomes a memorial to the victim, a place where mourners can honor and remember the dead.

Here are the sites of several famous assassinations.

Abraham Lincoln-Ford’s Theater, Washington, D.C.

Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. was a new and popular destination when Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln went to the theater on April 14, 1865. In the middle of the performance, Lincoln was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth, an embittered supporter of the Confederacy. Lincoln was carried across the street to the Peterson House, where he died early the next morning.

Ford’s Theater later fell into decline and disrepair. It was partially opened as a museum in the 1930s and as fully renovated museum and theater in 1968.

Now, many visitors come each year to learn about and pay respects to the 16th president.

Ford's Theatre - Lincoln Assassination Site (StreetView)
Ford's Theatre - Lincoln Assassination Site

John F. Kennedy-Dealy Plaza, Dallas, Texas

John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline traveled to Dallas, Texas in November 1963. They were part of a public motorcade as they traveled to a luncheon event. As they turned onto Elm Street on Dealy Plaza, the President was fatally shot. Governor Connally was also shot but survived.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder, but was himself assassinated two days later by Jack Ruby.

View from JFK's car (StreetView)
View from JFK's car

Visitors and mourners can see the exact spot of the shooting, which is memorialized by an X on the street. Conspiracies still circulate widely about the truth behind the events that day.

The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot (StreetView)
The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot

Martin Luther King, Jr.-Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great civil rights leader fighting for racial equality. He traveled to various cities to lead nonviolent protests and marches. He was such a frequent traveler to Memphis that he was a regular at the Lorraine Motel, staying in the same room every time he was in town.

On April 4, 1968, King was in Memphis to organize a nonviolent protest. While standing outside his hotel room, he was shot and killed by James Earl Ray. Ray escaped to London, where he was arrested and send back to the United States for prosecution. He pled guilty and died in prison in 1998.

MLK, Jr. assassination site/Lorraine Motel (Birds Eye)
MLK, Jr. assassination site/Lorraine Motel

The room was never again used for guests, and the entire hotel was turned into a National Civil Rights Museum in 1991, where visitors can learn about the history of civil rights in the United States since the 17th century.

Malcolm X-Audubon Ballroom, New York, New York

Malcolm X  was born Malcolm Little in Nebraska. While  in prison, he became a member of the Nation of Islam, which advocated for black self-reliance, racial segregation and Islamic teachings. He changed his last name to “X” to be rid of the name given his family by white slave owners.

Malcolm X became well-known throughout the United States, but eventually became disillusioned with the organization. After leaving the organization, he clashed with it and received serious death threats for months. On February 21, 1965, he was preparing to speak at a meeting at the Audubon Ballroom, he was shot 21 times by three individuals associated with the Nation of Islam. His life and death and the aftermath were all controversial, but his death was nonetheless tragic and difficult for the communities he loved and helped through his works.

Malcolm X Assassination (site) (StreetView)
Malcolm X Assassination (site)

Robert Kennedy-Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California

Just a few short years after his brother’s death at the hands of an assassin, Robert Kennedy was running for president on a platform of social justice and equality. He was campaigning in Los Angeles on California’s primary election day on June 5, 1968. After receiving the positive election results, Kennedy gave a speech at the Ambassador Hotel and then left through the hotel kitchen when he was mortally wounded by Sirhan Sirhan.

Kennedy’s death rocked the country, following on the heels of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder and so similar to his brother’s tragic and public murder.

His death, while witnessed by many, is still surrounded by conspiracy and confusion as to specific details of the crime.

Ambassador Hotel (former) (Google Maps)
Ambassador Hotel (former)

These are just a few of the many politically and personally motivated killings that have rocked the world, and each one leaves a mark on their family, the community, and often even the world.

The Masked Singer is Coming Back!

The new hit television show The Masked Singer has been renewed for a fourth season and will premier on September 23, and fans couldn’t be more excited. Since its debut in 2019, the entertainment show has consistently been the highest or nearly highest rated show of its kind.

Nick Cannon

Nick Cannon has been the show’s presenter from the beginning, and brings a great deal of hosting talent to the dynamic show. Nick married music superstar Mariah Carey and had three kids with her before they divorced in 2016.

He rents a massive home in Saddle River, New Jersey, for about $11,000 a month. It’s a great home for him to co-parent his three kids and still be able to to host the show, produce Wild ‘N Out, and do his other entertainment ventures.

Nick Cannon's House (Birds Eye)
Nick Cannon's House

Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke has been in show business his whole life because of his dad’s acting career, and famous in his own right since 2013 when his song Blurred Lines rocked to the top of the charts. He is a panelist on the Masked Singer, where he and the other panelists judge the performances and speculate about who is behind the mask.

He and his girlfriend bought a lovely home in Malibu  in 2014 for $2.4 million, but the home went up in flames in massive wildfires in 2018.

Robin Thicke's House (Birds Eye)
Robin Thicke's House

Nicole Scherzinger

Nicole Scherzinger rose to fame as the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. She then won the tenth season of Dancing with the Stars, and began a career in reality and entertainment television. She has been a panelist on The Masked Singer since its inception.

Nicole has been a resident of Los Angeles for years, but bought a new home in 2016. The 4,600 square foot hillside home set her back $3.75 million, but with four bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as gorgeous views of the LA skyline, it’s certainly worth it.

Nicole Scherzinger's house (Google Maps)
Nicole Scherzinger's house

T-Pain

T-Pain joined the cast of the Masked Singer thinking he wouldn’t make it past the first round, but he went on to be the first season’s winner. After suffering a big career setback, his appearance on the show helped reboot his music career, and he’s a hit for a new generation of music lovers.

He lives with his wife and three kids in Roswell, in a gorgeous mansion surrounded by trees, but just minutes from downtown Atlanta.

T-Pain's House (Birds Eye)
T-Pain's House

Wayne Brady

Wayne Brady came on the second season of the show, and he was in it to win it. He’s been in comedy, music and all sorts of show biz for decades, which may have contributed to his charming persona that helped him win the season. He’s owned a lot of real estate around Los Angeles, including this condo he bought in 2013 for about $1.75 million. It has three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and more than 2,000 square feet, enough to do a victory dance to celebrate his triumph.

Wayne Brady's House (Google Maps)
Wayne Brady's House

Kandi Burruss

Kandu Burruss had a career in music as part of the group Xscape before she gained wider fame as a star on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. She had been asked to join the first season, but turned it town. She joined the third season’s cast of the Masked Singer as the Night Angel, and it was a good thing because she won!

She lives in Atlanta in a 7,000 square foot home with seven bedrooms and ten bathrooms. Certainly there’s enough room in there to hold her trophy.

Kandi Burruss's House (Google Maps)
Kandi Burruss's House

The Masked Singer is just the type of no-stress, fun, and entertaining show we all crave right now, so it’s perfect timing that it’s coming back this month to Fox. We can all take a break, watch some great singing and wonder, who is it behind the mask?