WHAT HAPPENED ON - 23 February

February 23 1954 – Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine is administered for the first time

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February 23 1954 – Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine is administered for the first time
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On February 23, 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was administered to the children from the Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, USA, kicking off a trial run of mass inoculations across the nation. By March that year newspapers reported the first major success in polio vaccination reported in history.

For many centuries Poliomyelitis or Polio had plagued mankind. Records of the disease exist from as far back as 1400 BC. It is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system, nerves, spine leaving the patient’s muscles weak and causing paralysis or even death. Though largely affecting children, polio is also known to affect adults and is a highly contagious disease. Till about the 1800s, Polio remained relatively uncommon while other diseases such as influenza, diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis ruled the roost. By the start of the 20th century, however, Polio started to make its presence felt and by mid-century, polio became a fearful disease, dreaded by parents in all parts of the world. Polio epidemic often came in waves, immaterial of the socio-economic stature of the country. The first Polio epidemic swept the US in 1894. It was in 1908 that the Polio virus was identified as the cause of the disease. In 1916, a massive polio epidemic wrecked New York City and within a few years. In 1921, Polio claimed its most famous victim – the young politician Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the future President of the United States. The disease affected him severely and left his legs paralyzed. …(Read more)

February 23 532 – Byzantine Emperor Justinian I Orders Construction of Hagia Sophia

February 23 532 – Byzantine Emperor Justinian I Orders Construction of Hagia Sophia
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Some 170 years after the first construction of a church on the Bosporus River, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I ordered the construction of a third building on the site. Just six weeks after the Nika Revolt left the second church a smoldering ruin, the project for a new house of worship began on February 23, 532. Taking elements of the previous design, the massive basilica is one of the ancient world’s masterpieces, surviving in Istanbul, Turkey to this day.

According to tradition, Constantius II inaugurated a large church next to the site of the imperial palace in February 360. Though it is difficult to tell for certain who began the project — either Constantius or his father, Constantine — writings describe the temple as one of the jewels of contemporary architecture. Alongside the neighboring Hagia Eirene, this “Megale Ekklesia” (“Great Church”) served as the primary gathering places for Christians in the Byzantine Empire for nearly five decades until rioters set fire to it in 404.

A decade later, Emperor Theodosius II presided over a ceremony opening the second building. Consisting of marble blocks with a wooden roof, the new construction took on the name Hagia Sophia — “Holy Wisdom.” For more than a century, it retained its predecessor’s place as the hub of Christianity in eastern Europe, taking on the additional role of being the location for crowning new Byzantine rulers. Early in Justinian’s reign, however, it would come down like the first. …(Read more)

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