On This Day December 31
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1862 – Nine months after engaging in the most famous naval battles in American history, the ironclad warship USS Monitor sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Sixteen crewmen are killed. The Monitor had dueled to a standstill with another ironclad, the CSS Virginia (originally the CSS Merrimack), off Hampton Roads, Virginia on March 9, 1862.
1904 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in New York’s Times Square — known then as Longacre Square — at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan. Three years later, in 1907, the tradition of the dropping ball is introduced.
1999 – Days after Mikhail Gorbachev is re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party, Boris Yeltsin, president of the Republic of Russia, stuns his country and the world by announcing his resignation six months before the end of his term. He turns control over to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, undercutting Gorbachev’s efforts to keep the struggling Soviet Union together.
1970 – Eight months after the The Beatles’ breakup and subsequent release of their last album, “Let It Be,” Paul McCartney files suit against bandmates John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to officially dissolve their partnership.
1972 – Dick Clark begins a new holiday tradition as his first “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” concert is broadcast on ABC-TV, featuring performances by Three Dog Night and Al Green. Clark hosts the annual event for the next 32 years before turning the reins over to Ryan Seacrest.
2015 – Grammy-winning R&B singer-songwriter Natalie Cole (“This Will Be,” “I’ve Got Love On My Mind,” “Miss You Like Crazy,” “Unforgettable”), daughter of legendary crooner and jazz pianist Nat King Cole, dies of congestive heart failure at the age of 65.