20 October: A look at significant events that took place on this day


On 20 October 1973, Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated the Sydney Opera House, a multi-venue performing arts centre. This masterpiece of 20th-century architecture is situated on Sydney Harbour’s shoreline.

It is counted among one of the world’s most recognisable and well-known structures and was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon. He won an international competition in 1957 with his innovative, exciting, but difficult concept. However, an Australian architectural team led by Peter Hall later finished the entire project of the Opera House. The performing arts centre’s construction, which cost over $100 million, started in March 1959.

On the same day in 1955, English author and philologist JRR Tolkien finally released ‘The Return of the King’, the final part of his ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. His publishers and readers were eager to learn more about hobbits after the first book named ‘The Hobbit’ was brought out in 1937.

In 1939, Tolkien grabbed up his pen once more and decided to write the popular volume, ‘The Lord of the Rings’. From the introduction of the plot in the first book to the publication of the third volume, it took 16 years. The books are regarded as the foundation of fantasy fiction and have been considered one of the most-famous works of the 20th century. Internally, the work is split into six books, two in each volume, plus a number of supporting chapters.

The Oakland firestorm of 1991 was a significant suburban wildland-urban blaze that took place over the weekend of October 19–20 on the slopes of northern Oakland, California, and southeastern Berkeley. A small fire, with no discernible cause, that occurred on private property in the Oakland hills on 19 October marked the beginning of everything. With assistance from the state and the Park District personnel and little wind, Oakland firefighters put out the fire.

But on 20 October, the smoldering embers rekindled. Strong easterly winds that day helped spread the fire, which soon turned into an inferno. A total of 1,500 firefighters from all around Northern California and 450 engines battled the flames and finally put it out. Twenty-five people died and 150 were injured. A total of 10,000 individuals were evacuated. In terms of money spent, homes lost, and persons killed, it is still regarded as the one of most catastrophic fires in California’s history.

Here are some other notable events that took place on 20 October:

In 1921, the Treaty of Ankara was signed between France and Turkey’s Grand National Assembly.
In 1964, former US President Herbert Hoover passed away in New York City.
In 2002, the world’s deepest underwater pipeline to transfer natural gas, known as Blue Stream, began operating in Turkey
In 2011, former Libyan President Muammar al-Qaddafi was killed by rebel forces, three months after the start of the revolt against his rule.

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20 October: A look at significant events that took place on this day
20 October: A look at significant events that took place on this day
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