On This Day March 21

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On This Day January 18

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1778 – British explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he lands at Waimea on the island of Kauai and names the island cluster the Sandwich Islands, after the voyage’s sponsor, the Earl of Sandwich.

1919 – Leaders of the Allied powers — the United States, France, Great Britain and Italy — convene in Paris, France to begin the long and complex negotiations that would pave the way for the end of World War I. The Paris Peace Conference, as it is known, leads to creation of the League of Nations, an international peacekeeping organization.

1975 – The sitcom “The Jeffersons,” one of several spin-offs from TV’s groundbreaking “All in the Family,” premieres on CBS and becomes a ratings bonanza of its own during an 11-season run. Another Norman Lear creation, it stars Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as a successful African-American couple adjusting to life on Manhattan’s ritzy East Side after leaving their modest Queens neighborhood.

1977 – Scientists identify the cause of a mysterious outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 34 people at a 1976 American Legion Convention in Philadelphia. 

1990 – An FBI sting leads to the arrest of Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry for possession of crack cocaine. After serving six months in federal prison, the so-called “mayor for life” makes one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of American politics in 1994 when D.C. residents elect him to a fourth term as mayor.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1944 – The first jazz concert — known as the Esquire All-American Jazz Concert — is held at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, featuring Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge, Jack Teagarden and Billie Holiday.

1960 – Johnny Preston starts a three-week run at No. 1 on the singles chart with “Running Bear,” a song written by J. P. Richardson (a.k.a. “The Big Bopper”). The song was released shortly after Richardson’s death in the February 1959 plane crash that also claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

1964 – The Beatles make their U.S. singles chart debut when “I Want To Hold Your Hand” enters at No. 45. It goes on to spend seven weeks at No. 1. 

1969 – Marvin Gaye is midway through a seven-week ride atop the Billboard singles chart with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” The track becomes Motown’s biggest-selling hit at that time.

1975 – Barry Manilow scores his first chart-topping single when “Mandy” reaches the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

1986 – “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick, featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, is the No. 1 single. The track, written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, wins Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Song of the Year Grammys.

1989 – At 38 years of age, Stevie Wonder becomes the youngest living person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has excellent company, as other inductees in his class include The Rolling Stones, The Temptations and Dion (DiMucci).

1992 – Michael Jackson wraps up seven weeks as a chart-topper with “Black or White,” off his “Dangerous” album.

2003 – Eminem finds himself on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for another week with “Lose Yourself,” from the “8 Mile” soundtrack.

On This Day December 23

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1783 – Following the signing of the Treaty of Paris, General George Washington resigns as commander in chief of the Continental Army and retires to his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

1888 – Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, suffering from severe depression, uses a razor to sever part of his left ear. He later documents the event in a painting titled “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.” Over years, however, a variety of new theories have emerged about this incident.

1913 – President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act into law establishing the Federal Reserve, which continues serving as the nation’s central banking system today and is responsible for executing monetary policy.

1947 – John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley with Bell Laboratories unveil their invention of the transistor, which revolutionizes communications and electronics.

1968 – The crew and captain of the American intelligence gathering ship USS Pueblo are released after 11 months imprisonment by the North Korean government.

1986 – Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager complete the first non-stop flight around the world without refueling. They set a new world record of 216 hours of continuous flying in the experimental aircraft Voyager.

1993 – The movie “Philadelphia,” starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, and directed by Jonathan Demme, opens in U.S. theaters. It is the first major Hollywood film to address the HIV/AIDS crisis and garners Hanks a Best Actor Oscar and Bruce Springsteen a Best Original Song Oscar for his track, “Streets of Philadelphia.”

On This Day October 11

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1793 – The death toll from a yellow fever outbreak in what was then the capital of the United States — Philadelphia — reaches 100. A cold front that arrives about two weeks later wipes out the city’s mosquito population, which reduces the number of casualties to 20 per day. But by the time the epidemic ends that November, more than 5,000 people had died.

1950 – CBS becomes the first television network to secure a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license to broadcast in color.

1968 – The first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7, blasts off and transmits the first live TV signals from orbit. The crew orbits Earth 163 times during 10 days and 20 hours in space.

1975 – Late-night television turns edgy with the first broadcast of NBC’s “Saturday Night,” later renamed “Saturday Night Live” and known today as “SNL.” Original cast members include Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase. Comedian George Carlin hosts Episode 1, with musical perfomances by Billy Preston and Janis Ian.

1986 – Following up on their successful November 1985 summit in Geneva, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Reykjavik, Iceland, to continue disarmament talks. While negotiations break down, they pave the way for the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the Superpowers.

2002 – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1962 – The Beatles make their first appearance on the U.K. singles chart with “Love Me Do,” which eventually peaks at No. 17. It performs better across the pond on the Billboard singles chart, where it reaches No. 1 on May 30, 1964.

1969 – The Archies wrap up four weeks as chart-toppers with “Sugar Sugar.”

1971 – John Lennon releases “Imagine,” which becomes an international anthem for peace and love and the most successful single of the former Beatle’s solo career. It peaks at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Shortly before his death in 1980, Lennon admitted that much of the song’s content came from his wife, Yoko Ono, and in 2017 she received a co-writing credit.

1975 – “Bad Blood” by Neil Sedaka, with backup vocals provided by Elton John, begins a three-week run as the No. 1 single.

1975 – “Born to Run” becomes Bruce Springsteen’s first Top 40 hit. The single only climbs as high as No. 23, but propels The Boss’s musical career into the stratosphere.

1986 – Janet Jackson scores her first No. 1 single with “When I Think of You,” off her “Control” album. The track holds the top spot for two weeks.

1997 – Elton John begins 14 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with his musical tribute to the late Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind.” The track is an updated version of John’s 1973 recording from the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album, which was a homage to screen siren Marilyn Monroe.

2003 – “Baby Boy,” by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul, is in the second of nine weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.

2008 – T.I. (a.k.a. Tip) is No. 1 on the pop chart with “Whatever You Like.”

On this Day July 13

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On this Day July 2

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1776 – Convening in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress formally adopts Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence from Great Britain. The vote is unanimous, with only New York abstaining.

1881 – President James A. Garfield is shot while walking through a Washington, D.C. railroad station. Vice President Chester Arthur steps in as acting president while Garfield recuperates, but 80 days later, Garfield dies of blood poisoning and Arthur is inaugurated as 21st president. The assassin, 40-year-old Charles Guiteau, had stalked the president for weeks.

1937 – Aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappear over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to fly around the world. They were believed to be headed for Howland Island — about halfway between Hawaii and Australia —  after taking off from Lae, New Guinea.

1964 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The historic measure prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in public places as well as in employment, union membership and voter registration. 

1979 – The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is introduced, but fails to catch on because many consumers are unable to distinguish it from a quarter.

1994 – While attempting to land, US Air Flight 1016 crashes near Charlotte-Douglas Airport in North Carolina, killing 37 people and seriously injuring 16 others. Investigators determine that wind shear resulting from a thunderstorm caused the plane to plummet to the ground and strike a home.

1997 – “Men in Black,” starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, opens in U.S. theaters. The sci-fi-comedy action movie grosses more than $250 million domestically and helps establish Smith as one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men.

On this Day May 24

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1775 – Meeting in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress unanimously elects John Hancock of Massachusetts as president. That is why Hancock has the honor of being the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.

1883 – New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge opens, concluding a 14-year, $18 million construction project that cost more than two dozen workers their lives. The span links the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan across the East River.

1899 – The first public parking garage in the U.S. opens in Boston as part of the Back Bay Cycle & Motor Company. It is advertised as a “stable for renting, sale, storage and repair of motor vehicles.”

1935 – Major League Baseball’s first night game is played at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1.

1976 – Service aboard the Concorde supersonic (SST) airliner begins between London and Washington, D.C.

1991 – “Thelma & Louise,” starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis and directed by Ridley Scott, opens in U.S. movie theaters. The film earns six Academy Award nominations, including Best Director for Scott and Best Actress for both Sarandon and Davis, but wins for Best Original Screenplay. It introduces a young, unknown Brad Pitt and becomes a fixture of American pop culture with the two main characters representing strong women overcoming obstacles in a male-dominated world.

1991 – The firefighting drama “Backdraft,” starring Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Scott Glenn and Donald Sutherland, and directed by Ron Howard, opens in U.S. theaters. The film goes on to receive three Academy Award nominations.

On this Day May 13

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