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In the Good Old Days Antiques Corner This Week in History
This Week in History

Michigan's Mighty Mac, Two Rival Gangs, and a Dark Soap Opera

-- On June 25, 1958: The Mackinac Bridge (also known as The Mighty Mac), a suspension bridge that connects the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan, was dedicated. As the number of people visiting the area had increased, it had become clear that ferry boats were inadequate to transport everyone between the peninsulas. Despite the need for a bridge, attempts to acquire federal funding for the project during the Great Depression were unsuccessful. The United States' entrance into World War II further delayed the possibility of a bridge. Finally, in the 1950s, progress was made toward the actual construction of the bridge. David B. Steinman designed the bridge and construction began on May 7, 1954. The bridge project cost approximately $100 million to build. The Mackinac Bridge was first opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957, although the actual dedication of the bridge was delayed until June the next year. During the dedication, Governor G. Mennen (Soapy) Williams walked across the bridge with a group of people. Since then, an annual bridge walk has been held each Labor Day.

-- On June 27, 1959: The musical West Side Story closed on Broadway after 732 performances. Set in New York City during the 1950s, West Side Story was a modern-day take on Romeo and Juliet. The musical featured two rival gangs -- the Sharks and the Jets -- in place of Shakespeare's two feuding Verona families. Tony, a former Jet, falls in love with Maria, the sister of a Shark. The show was written by Arthur Laurents, who also wrote the musical Gypsy and Hollywood films including the script for the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rope and the movie The Way We Were. The show's memorable music was created by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim in his Broadway debut. Notable songs from the musical include Somewhere, Maria, America and I Feel Pretty. The musical was also known for the intricate choreography created by Jerome Robbins who received a Tony Award for his work. West Side Story was made into a 1961 musical film starring Natalie Wood (Maria), Richard Beymer (Tony) and Russ Tamblyn (Riff). The musical film won 10 Academy Awards (including Best Picture) -- the most Academy Awards for a musical film.

-- On June 27, 1966: The television soap opera Dark Shadows first aired on television. The gothic soap opera began with orphan Victoria Winters (Alexandra Isles) traveling to Maine in order to work as a governess. While there, she encounters all manner of unusual things and attempts to discover the truth about her roots. During the second season, vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appears. The series was revived in 1991 briefly and also became a film in 2012 starring Johnny Depp as the vampire Barnabas.

-- Compiled by M. Moeller

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