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Be Amazing: Move a Whole Town

Whether you're looking to become invisible, swallow a sword, quit smoking, find Atlantis, buy the Moon, sink a battleship, perform your own surgeries, or become a ninja, our new book Be Amazing covers all the essential life skills! This week, we'll be excerpting a few lessons from the book.

Hibbing, Minnesota, was a mining town. Established in 1893, it quickly became the largest of several cities built on the Mesabi Range iron-ore deposits. Known as the "richest village in the world," the town grew to a population of 20,000 by 1915 and boasted opulent hotels, decorative Victorian banks, and all the cultural amenities of "big city" life. But, in 1912, a geologic survey revealed that Hibbing was actually closer to the iron ore than any of its founders had anticipated—as in, right on top of it. Clearly, something had to give, and in an area where iron was king that something was obviously going to be the city of Hibbing.

Lust for iron aside, the locals weren't quite ready to raze the town and start over from scratch.

Balancing greed with thriftiness, they simply decided to reuse what they already had—moving the bulk of the town two miles to the south and out of the way of the strip mining machines. Amazingly, for an era when heavy construction equipment was still just a twinkle in a foreman's eye, this plan actually worked. Hibbing survived and the awkwardly placed iron mine, now known as the Hull-Rust, is the largest open-pit mine in the world today, covering 2,291 acres and producing 1.4 billion tons of ore. Granted, your hometown might not sit on top of a veritable gold mine of, well, iron, but if you don't try moving it you'll never know for sure.

YOU WILL NEED

"¢ A town
"¢ Horses
"¢ Logs
"¢ Chains
"¢ A very understanding citizenry

Step 1: LOSE THE FOUNDATION

It was just holding you down anyway! Mary Jane Finsand's book, The Town That Moved, explains how the citizens of Hibbing slowly jacked up their public buildings and homes high enough that they were no longer connected to the foundations beneath.

Step 2: GET ON A ROLL

Giant trees from the nearby forest were felled and stripped to become rollers, which were laid one after another beneath each building. Chains attached the building to a team of horses. As it moved across the line of rollers, workmen would bring the end log around to the front. Hey, we just said the process worked . . . not that it was fast! Moving began in 1919, but the final building didn't make the journey until the 1960s.

Step 3: BE SAFE

The people of Hibbing trusted the movers not just with their possessions but also with their lives. Many houses were actually moved with all the furniture and residents riding inside. Lucky for them, the movers had a pretty solid success rate. Of the 200 buildings moved, only one didn't survive the trip.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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