A Banner Year for History Fans

Posted January 9, 2018 6:53 p.m. EST

It’s a big year for civic tricentennials, artistic anniversaries, wilderness salutes and one baseball birthday party where the fans will get the presents.

— In 1718, French explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville found a bit of high ground 100 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River and founded New Orleans where today Jackson Square sits. The city will celebrate its 300th anniversary throughout 2018 in signature colorful style with parties, fireworks and concerts. The tricentennial has kicked off several major infrastructure improvements, including a remodeling of popular Bourbon Street, which hasn’t been done since 1928, and a new airport terminal that is due in 2019.

San Antonio, too, will be blowing out 300 candles on its virtual birthday cake. A year’s worth of programming includes concerts, historic tours, museum exhibits and more with a concentration of events, including public art unveilings, formal balls and military flyovers taking place during Commemorative Week, May 1 to 6.

— In 1768, explorer James Cook sailed the ship Endeavour down the River Thames in England, embarking on the first of three voyages to the Pacific region. is tracking multiyear anniversaries of these journeys to Canada, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Hawaii. This year, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich will open its Exploration Wing, with four galleries devoted to Cook and other explorers.

— In Scotland, design fans will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Glasgow-born architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The official day is June 7, but many events take place throughout the year, including building tours, city walking tours and an exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum that includes Mackintosh works never before publicly displayed.

— The Czech Republic and Slovakia went their separate ways in 1993, but 2018 marks the 100th year since their union in the aftermath of World War I as Czechoslovakia. National museums in both countries will mark the occasion with special exhibits, and in the Czech Republic a series of events, including concerts, will highlight the union’s initial 20 years, known as the First Republic.

— In neighboring Austria, the capital will salute the 100th anniversary of the passing of four of Vienna’s artistic heroes, painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, architect Otto Wagner and graphic designer Koloman Moser in Viennese Modernism 2018. Museums across the city will explore their art and influence in exhibitions that begin in February and run through fall.

— Stateside, April 4 marks the 50th year since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The National Civil Rights Museum, which includes the motel, will hold a two-day symposium on the state of civil rights and racial and economic equality, April 2 and 3, and a storytelling event April 4, featuring Rep. John Lewis and other active members of the social justice movement.

— Outdoors enthusiasts will cheer the 50th anniversaries of the National Trails System and the Wild & Scenic Rivers System, two key conservation programs established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. Since then, 11 national scenic trails such as the Appalachian Trail, 19 national historic trails — including the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail — and more than 1,200 national recreational trails have been created. More than 12,000 miles of rivers in the country are designated Wild & Scenic. Special hiking and boating events will take place throughout the year at many of these locations.

— Among golden anniversaries in sports, the Engadin Ski Marathon, the largest cross-country ski race in Switzerland, will kick off for the 50th time on March 11, attracting some 13,000 racers capable of skiing 26 miles above 5,000 feet elevation. Too much work? Head to Oakland, California, where the Oakland Athletics will mark their 50th year in baseball April 17 with a game against the Chicago White Sox and a rare gift to fans: admission-free entry.

— A number of hotels will mark major anniversaries with specials and upgrades including the Willard InterContinental Washington, which is celebrating 200 years in 2018 by renovating its rooms.