From Luisa Rollenhagen for Deutsche Welle: "Imagine if your rent was 88 cents — a year. And it hadn't changed for the past 500 years. Welcome to the Fuggerei. Located in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, the Fuggerei is considered to be the oldest social housing project in the world and continues to provide subsidized housing for Augsburg residents facing financial hardship. One of the Fuggerei's most unique aspects is its unchanged yearly rent of one Rhenish guilder, which corresponds to less than €1. Today, about 150 people live in the Fuggerei, spread out across 140 apartments. The Fuggerei gets about 30 to 40 applicants a year, with a waiting list that's currently 80 people long."
In the 1800s there was an amusement park where LaGuardia Airport is now
From Larry Margasak for the American Museum of Natural History: "From 1886 through the first two decades of the 20th century, New Yorkers escaping the summer heat flocked by boats and trolleys to North Beach, Queens. Their destination: one of the great beaches and amusement parks of that era. Its formal name, when it opened on the North Shore of Long Island on June 19, 1886, was Bowery Bay Beach. But many New Yorkers knew it as "The Coney Island of Queens." The pristine recreation area was opened by William Steinway and a partner. Steinway was best known as a manufacturer of the world-famous Steinway pianos, but that wasn't his only area of interest. Bowery Bay Beach was part of a grand business scheme in Queens. It included Steinway's piano factory, a new village for Steinway employees and other working-class New Yorkers, an electric trolley system, hotels, a grand pier to receive steamboats, and a dock and pier."
How did Norwegian dried cod become such a popular food in Nigeria?
From Penny Dale & Victoria Uwonkunda for the BBC: "Dried cod, also known as "stockfish," is a huge business in Norway. But it's also a staple food thousands of miles away, in Nigeria. Why? During the Biafran civil war in Nigeria 50 years ago, more than a million people died - mostly from hunger. It was a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale, and churches and relief agencies from all over the world joined together to fly in emergency supplies. Norway's contribution was stockfish. It doesn't need refrigeration, and it is full of protein and vitamins - perfect to combat kwashiorkor, the malnutrition that characterised the Biafran war. For years, Edwin Mofefe, who was five years old when the war broke out, couldn't eat stockfish because it brought back too many memories."
Ornamental hermits were 18th-century England’s must-have garden accessory
From Shoshi Parks for the Smithsonian magazine: "England’s 18th-century ornamental hermit craze. The short-lived trend, which peaked between roughly 1727 and 1830, was one of the most memorable to come out of the era’s shift from perfectly pruned, geometrically aligned gardens to wild, untamed ones. For the hermitage at his Lake District estate, wealthy oddball Joseph Pocklington sought a man who would live for seven years without washing or cutting his hair and nails. At another unidentified “great house in England,” an advertiser offered £300 to a hermit who would “remain bearded and in a state of picturesque dirtiness for six months in the year in an artificial cave at a suitable distance from the house—just far enough (but not too far) for the fashionable house-party, with its court of subservient poets and painters, to visit, walking there in the afternoons, peering into the semi-darkness with a little thrill of wonder and excitement.”
Why research physicists once put a ferret into a particle accelerator
From Michelle Starr for Science Alert: "It was February of 1971. The Main Ring particle accelerator at the NAL's Meson Laboratory was fresh out of the wrapper, and physicists were keen to start running it through its paces. This $250 million piece of equipment consisted of a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) tube along which, they hoped, 1,014 powerful magnets would help steer and accelerate protons to energies up to 200 billion electron volts. Six days after the final magnet was installed, two of the things were found shorted to the ground. Eventually, the team traced the problem to one of contamination. Tiny scrap metal shavings had been left in the accelerator. How to get the shavings out? British physicist Robert Sheldon hit upon a solution. A ferret."
A Maryland woman died at the age of 20, but still looked like a toddler
From ABC News in 2013: "Brooke Greenberg died at the age of 20, never having developed beyond the physical size of an infant or the mental capacity of a 2-year-old. The daughter of Howard and Melanie Greenberg from Reisterstown, Md., Brooke is one of about a dozen children in the world who have what some call syndrome X – a disorder that prevents them from aging. Brooke has been pushed around in a stroller all her life. In 2009, when her family was interviewed on ABC's "20/20," Brook weighed 16 pounds and was 30 inches tall. Richard F. Walker, a retired medical researcher from the University of Florida Medical School, has followed Brooke's case since she was about 2 years old. "In some people, something happens to them and the development process is retarded," he said. "The rate of change in the body slows and is negligible."
A parking control robot lifts an illegally parked car and delivers it to a tow truck
From Massimo on Twitter