December 30


1066: A Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, Spain, crucified Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela, and massacred most of the Jewish population of the city.

1813: British soldiers burned Buffalo, New York, during the War of 1812.

1853: The United States bought land from Mexico to facilitate building a railroad in the Southwest, in what became known as the Gadsden Purchase, the last expansion of U.S. territory in the 48 states.

1903: A fire at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago killed at least 605 people.

1905: Former Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg (born 1861) was assassinated at the front gate of his home.  Steunenberg was killed outside his house at 1602 Dearborn St., Caldwell, by a bomb rigged to the side gate. (Harry Orchard, a former miner from the Western Federation of Miners, was later convicted of the crime.)

1906: The All-India Muslim League was founded in Dacca, East Bengal, British India. (It went on to become Pakistan.)

1914: Born this day: actor Bert Parks (Miss America host, died 1992); and actress Jo Van Fleet (East of Eden, Gunfight at OK Corral, died 1996)

1922: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed. (It dissolved in 1991.)

1927: The first subway line in Asia opened in Tokyo, Japan.

1934: Born this day:  John N. Bahcall, American astrophysicist and astronomer, co-developed the Hubble Space Telescope (died 2005); actor, director, screenwriter Joseph Bologna (My Favorite Year, CSI); U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph P. Hoar; singer-songwriter Del Shannon (Runaway, died 1990); actor Russ Tamblyn (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers).

1935: Born this day:  Major League Baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax, and actor Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show, Rugrats).

1937: Born this day: singer-songwriter John Hartford (Gentle on My Mind, died 2001); and singer-songwriter Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul and Mary).

1948: The Cole Porter Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate, opened at the New Century Theatre and became the first show to win the Best Musical Tony Award. (The show ran 1,077 times.)

2011: Because of a change of time zone, this day was skipped in Samoa and Tokelau.


December 31

1879: Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1907: The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) was held in New York, New York.

1923: The chimes of Big Ben were broadcast on radio for the first time by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

1952: U.S. singer and guitarist George Thorogood was born in Wilmington, Delaware.

1955: General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion in a year.

1960: The farthing coin ceased to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.

1963: The Central African Federation officially collapsed and became Zambia, Malawi, and Rhodesia.

1983: The AT&T Bell System was broken up by the United States government.

1985: Singer Rick Nelson, age 45, and his band were killed in a forced plane landing of Nelson’s 1944 DC-3 after a fire broke out on board in flight from Guntersville, Ala., to a gig in Dallas, Texas.

1991: All official Soviet Union institutions ceased operations and the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

1992: Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved in what became known as the Velvet Divorce, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1998: The Euro became legal tender in 19 of 26 European Union countries.


January 1


45 BC: The Julian calendar took effect as the civil calendar of the Roman Empire, establishing January 1 as the new first day of the new year.

1890: The Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., was held for the first time.

1895: J. Edgar Hoover, first director of the FBI, was born in Washington, D.C.

1898: New York, New York, annexed land from surrounding counties, creating the City of Greater New York. The four initial boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, were joined on Jan. 25 by Staten Island to create the modern city of five boroughs.

1902: The first American college football bowl game, the Rose Bowl between Michigan and Stanford, was held in Pasadena, Calif.

1908: A ball was dropped for the first time in New York City’s Times Square to signify the start of the New Year at midnight.

1919: Born this day: boxer Rocky Graziano (died 1990); actress Carole Landis (One Million B.C., died 1948); author J. D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye, died 2010)

1927: Turkey adopted the Gregorian calendar, and Dec. 18, 1926 (Julian), was immediately followed by Jan. 1, 1927 (Gregorian).

1930: First lady Lou Hoover and her husband, President Herbert Hoover, held the last public New Year’s Day hand-shaking reception at the White House. Thousands of people attended the final event, which began in 1801.

1934: The U.S. federal prison at Alcatraz Island received its first inmates.


January 3

1496: Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tested a flying machine.

1957: The Hamilton Watch Co. introduced the first electric wristwatch.

1959: Alaska became the 49th U.S. state.

1961: A steam explosion and core meltdown at the SL-1, a government-run reactor near Idaho Falls, Idaho, killed three workers.

1962: Pope John XXIII excommunicated Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

1983: Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began erupting continuously and has not stopped to date.

2000: The last original daily Peanuts comic strip was published.


January 4


1998: A massive ice storm hit eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It continued through Jan. 10 and caused widespread destruction.

1999: Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was sworn in as governor of Minnesota. Iron Eyes Cody, a U.S. actor who portrayed Native Americans in movies and TV from the 1930s to the 1970s, died in Hollywood at age 94. (Three years earlier, The New Orleans Times-Picayune had reported that his parents were immigrants from Sicily and that he had no Native American ancestry.)

January 5

1889: The term “Hamburger steak” first appeared in the Walla Walla Union newspaper in Walla Walla, Wash.

1914: The Ford Motor Company announced an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage of $5 for a day’s labor.

1933: John Calvin Coolidge (30th U.S. president, 1923-1929) died in Northampton, Mass, at age 60.

1940: FM radio was demonstrated to the Federal Communications Commission for the first time.

1972: President Richard Nixon ordered the development of the space shuttle program.

1974: The warmest reliably measured temperature in Antarctica, 59 degrees Fahrenheit, was recorded at Vanda Station.

1996: Opera singer Richard Versalle, 63, died onstage while performing Janacek’s The Makropulos Case at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, after delivering the line, “Too bad you can only live so long.”


January 6


1800: 13th President Millard Fillmore was born in Cayuga County, New York. (Died 1874.)

1982: Faced with the rising price of copper, the U.S. Mint began issuing pennies made of copper-plated zinc.

1989: Japanese Emporer Hirohito died in Tokyo at age 87.