Mary O'Brien was 17 years old when The Great Blizzard of 1888 struck the northeastern United States, producing snowdrifts in excess of 50 ft (15 m) and confining some people to their houses for up to a week. The Great Blizzard of 1888 or Great Blizzard of '88 was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in the history of the United States of America. The storm, referred to as the Great White Hurricane, paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Snowfalls of 10 to 58 inches fell in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) produced snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m). Railroads were shut down, and people were confined to their houses for up to a week. Railway and telegraph lines were disabled, and this provided the impetus to move these pieces of infrastructure underground. Emergency services were also affected.
Mary O'Brien was 21 years old when Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera. Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park", he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
Mary O'Brien was 33 years old when The Wright brothers make their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were two American aviators, engineers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.