Last Modified: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 6:24 PM
On what date did the 21st century begin?
It started on Jan. 1, 2001 — a year after most people marked its beginning.
The Western calendar, the product of much rejiggering over the centuries, makes no allowance for a zero year, so the decades, centuries and millennia — preserving that original error — begin with years ending in one.
Unlike the latest rollover, the transition between the 19th and 20th centuries was widely regarded to have happened with the passage of the double-aught year.
An example, from the Jan. 1, 1901, edition of the Lake Charles Daily American — with the headlines “First of the Century” and “Judge Wasey Begins a Hundred Years of Weddings”:
The cold weather had driven the judge close to his office stove. About 8 o’clock the door was carefully opened and two heads peered into the room. “Come in,” said the judge, “and shut the door.”
The judge smiled when a couple walked into the room, the man gently holding her hand in his. Mr. Wasey did not ask any questions, for he knew that the matrimonial business for the twentieth century had opened.
Tofield Ross and Miss Leonore Carrier of Kinder, for such were their names, faced the judge and have the distinction of being the first couple married in the parish this year.
Tofield wanted a 50 cents reduction in the price, but as one of the judge’s resolutions was “don’t cut prices,” he declined.
Tofield finally paid, and on the first train they left for the east.
Whenever I-210 first was constructed, the signs at the exits and entrances at the interchanges were “Lake Charles Bypass.” And then a few years later they changed it to “Lake Charles Loop” because people were confused, thinking they were bypassing Lake Charles when in fact they were not.
Now I see the new signs say, “Lake Charles Bypass.” Why did the highway department change it back?
In response, Steve Jiles, regional administrator for the state Department of Transportation and Development, emailed the following statement:
With travel distances on I-10 and I-210 being relatively close between the junctions of these routes, the legend on the exit signs on I-10 in advance of I-210 were recently changed from “Lake Charles Loop” to “Lake Charles Bypass” in an effort to induce more “through” traffic to utilize I-210. In general, it was believed that the word bypass better conveyed assurance to unfamiliar motorists that I-210 would reconnect with I-10.
By its alignment, I-210 contains more of an east-west component than a north-south component and doesn’t form a complete loop as suggested in the former signing scheme. While I-210 doesn’t truly bypass Lake Charles, frequent traffic delays associated with the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge can be avoided along the less congested route of I-210.
The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email firstname.lastname@example.org