OCTOBER 12, 1492: Explorer Christopher Columbus makes landfall following a nine-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean, failing in his quest to find a new sea route to East Asia but succeeding in discovering the “New World.” Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, Columbus held various positions in the maritime trade and spent nearly a decade funding his “Enterprise of the Indies” before gaining the support of the Spanish Crown. He set sail on August 3 with three ships — the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria and landed briefly in modern-day Bahamas and Cuba, where the expedition established a small colony before returning to Spain. Columbus would lead three more voyages to the region, exploring the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. His discovery of the New World would later be celebrated as an American holiday. READ MORE: Columbus and the New World