Fabric foundations 1950s

Canvas Equal to the Atomic Age

When the USS Nautilus, the world’s first atomic submarine, was launched on Jan. 21, 1954, the editors of the National Canvas Goods Manufacturers Review boldly proclaimed that canvas was equal to the atomic age. Not only had canvas been used extensively aboard the Nautilus itself, but three members of the 1950 association were involved in the launch.

The flags and bows adorning the Nautilus, seen in so many commemorative photographs, were designed by Annin & Company of New York, while the William L. Barrel Company and John Boyle & Company designed and supplied the fabrics used during the reception.


Dacron suits go on sale in New York City on May 8. The new material, produced by DuPont, is the first polyester fiber sold commercially and will later be used in medical devices and artificial hearts.

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Disneyland opens on July 18 and is stormed by 28,000 ticket holders (most of the tickets are counterfeit). The 160-acre, $17 million park almost fails due to a heat wave that literally traps some of its first visitors in the steaming asphalt.

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The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the world’s first satellite, into space. The launch jumpstarts the U.S. space program and leads to the creation of NASA in 1958, as fears of nuclear missiles grip the American public.

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Ethel Gant stitches a pair of nylon stockings to a pair of underwear, inventing a practical replacement for garter belts. They are introduced by Glen Raven as Panti-Legs and are the first commercially marketed pantyhose.

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-Jessica Bies