Disneyland, Walt Disney’s metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy and futurism, opened. The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California, and soon brought in staggering profits. Today, Disneyland hosts more than 18 million visitors a year, who spend close to $3 billion. In 1965, work began on an even bigger Disney theme park and resort near Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney died in 1966, and Walt Disney World was opened in his honor on October 1, 1971. Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom were later added to Walt Disney World, and it remains Florida’s premier tourist attraction.
As a part of a mission aimed at developing space rescue capability, the U.S. spacecraft Apollo 18 and the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 19 rendezvous and dock in space. As the hatch was opened between the two vessels, commanders Thomas P. Stafford and Aleksei Leonov shook hands and exchanged gifts in celebration of the first such meeting between the two Cold War adversaries in space. Back on Earth, United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim congratulated the two superpowers for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and praised their unprecedented spirit of cooperation and peace in planning and executing the mission.
Shortly after takeoff from New York's Kennedy International Airport, a TWA Boeing 747 jetliner bound for Paris explodes over the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 230 people aboard. Flight 800 had just received clearance to initiate a climb to cruise altitude when it exploded without warning. Because the plane was loaded with fuel for the long transatlantic journey, it vaporized within moments, creating a fireball seen almost all along the coastline of Long Island. Many conspiracy theories abounded over the cause of the explosion from a terrorist attack to a navy test missile hitting the plane by accident. The much-criticized Flight 800 investigation ended in late 1998, with investigators concluding that the explosion resulted from mechanical failure, not from a bomb or a missile.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America's 32nd president, was nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms. The president received some criticism for running again because there was an unwritten rule in American politics that no U.S. president should serve more than two terms. Nevertheless, Roosevelt believed it was his duty to continue serving and lead his country through the mounting crisis in Europe, where Hitler’s Nazi Germany was on the rise. His third term in office was dominated by America’s involvement in World War II.
New close-up videotapes of the sunken ocean liner Titanic were released to the public. Taken on the first manned expedition to the wreck, the videotapes were stunning in their clarity and detail. Marine geologist Robert Ballard, in conjunction with Jean-Louis Michel of the Institute of Research for the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER), located the remains of the Titanic 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, 13,000 feet down on the ocean floor. Ballard, who was from Massachusetts’ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, had the help of the U.S. Navy, which supplied him with Argo, a high resolution sonar device and submersible photographic sled.
21-year-old actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered at her Los Angeles home by Robert John Bardo, a mentally unstable man who had been stalking her. Schaeffer's death helped lead to the passage in California of legislation aimed at preventing stalking. Schaeffer was best known for co-starring with Pam Dawber in the television sitcom My Sister Sam. The obsessed fan had reportedly obtained the actress’s home address through a detective agency, which located it through records at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. In 1994, California passed the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which prevented the Department of Motor Vehicles from releasing private addresses.
At the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, a woman's right convention - the first ever held in the United States - convened with almost 200 women in attendance. The convention was organized by Lucreti Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and becomes the founding of the women's rights movement in the United States. The Seneca Falls Convention was followed two weeks later by an even larger meeting in Rochester, N.Y. Thereafter, national woman’s rights conventions were held annually, providing an important focus for the growing women’s suffrage movement. After years of struggle, the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920, granting American women the constitutionally protected right to vote.
Cy Young won the 500th game of his Baseball career as the Cleveland Naps beat Washington Senators, 5 - 2, in 11 innings. Young is the only pitcher in MLB history to reach milestone. He also holds MLB records for the most career losses, innings pitched, games started and complete games. He led his league in wins during five seasons and pitched three no-hitters, including a perfect game in 1904. Young was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. In 1956, one year after his death, the Cy Young Award was created to honor the best pitcher in each league for each season.
American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller became the first swimmer in history to break the one-minute barrier in the 100 freestyle, clocking a time of 58.6 seconds in Alameda, California. Weissmuller, also the first man to break five minutes in the 440-yard freestyle, went on to win three gold medals at the 1924 Olympic games in Paris and two more Olympic gold medals in 1928 in Amsterdam. In total, the swimmer out of the Illinois Athletic Club won 52 U.S. National titles and set 67 world records, and by all indications, never lost a swimming race. He would go on to a career in film, and became known as the definitive Tarzan, portraying the famous character in 12 different movies from 1932 until 1948.
Five years after Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer's infamous defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Hunkpapa Teton Sioux leader Sitting Bull surrendered to the U.S. Army, which promised amnesty for him and his followers. Sitting Bull had been a major leader in the 1876 Sioux uprising that resulted in the death of Custer and 264 of his men at Little Bighorn. Pursued by the U.S. Army after the victory, he escaped to Canada with his followers. He was held as a prisoner of war at Fort Randall in South Dakota territory for two years and then was permitted to live on Standing Rock Reservation straddling North and South Dakota territory.
“Two girls for every boy!” went the immortal opening line from Jan and Dean’s “Surf City,” the song that was on the top of the U.S. pop charts. It was a claim that wasn’t actually supported by the facts, but it helped create a popular image of California as a paradise of sun and sand and endless summers. n a year that also saw the debut of the Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon Beach Party movie franchise, “Surf City” became the first chart-topping surf song ever. Jan and Dean would go on to have four more significant surf hits in their career:: “Honolulu Lulu” (#11, 1963); “Drag City” (#10, 1963); “Dead Man’s Curve” (#8, 1964); and “The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)” (#3, 1964).
At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, spoke these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. The American effort to send astronauts to the moon has its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy’s bold proposal.
In the first major battle of the Civil War, Confederate forces defeated the Union Army along Bull Run near Manassas Junction, Virginia. The battle became known as Manassas by the Confederates, while the Union called it Bull Run. Union forces endured a loss of 3,000 men killed, wounded, or missing in action while the Confederates suffered 2,000 casualties. The scale of this bloodshed horrified not only the frightened spectators at Bull Run but also the U.S. government in Washington, which was faced with an uncertain military strategy in quelling the “Southern insurrection.”
Considered the first true western showdown, Wild Bill Hickok shot and killed Dave Tutt in the market square of Springfield, Missouri. The informal western code of what constituted a legitimate-and legal-gun battle had its origins in the duels European chivalry. The western code required that a man resort to his six-gun only in defense of his honor or life, and only if his opponent was also armed. Likewise, a western jury was unlikely to convict a man in a shooting provided witnesses testified that his opponent had been the aggressor. It is unclear what caused the dispute. Some people say it was over a card game while others say they fought over a woman. Whatever the cause, the two men agreed to a duel. Having adhered to the code of the West, Hickok was acquitted of manslaughter charges.
NASA’s space shuttle program completed its final, and 135th, mission, when the shuttle Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the program’s 30-year history, its five orbiters—Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour—carried more than 350 people into space and flew more than 500 million miles, and shuttle crews conducted important research, serviced the Hubble Space Telescope and helped in the construction of the International Space Station, among other activities. NASA retired the shuttles to focus on a deep-space exploration program that could one day send astronauts to asteroids and Mars.
American aviator Wiley Post returned to Floyd Bennett Field in New York, having flown solo around the world in 7 days, 18 hours, and 49 minutes. He was the first aviator to accomplish the feat. Post, instantly recognizable by the patch he wore over one eye, began the journey on July 15, flying nonstop to Berlin in his. After a brief rest, he flew on to the Soviet Union, where he made several stops before returning to North America, with stops in Alaska, Canada, and finally a triumphant landing at his starting point in New York. He flew the Winnie Mae, a Lockheed Vega monoplane that was equipped with a Sperry automatic pilot and a direction radio for Post’s solo journey.
Outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre, notorious criminal John Dillinger—America’s “Public Enemy No. 1″—was killed in a hail of bullets fired by federal agents. In a fiery bank-robbing career that lasted just over a year, Dillinger and his associates robbed 11 banks for more than $300,000, broke jail and narrowly escaped capture multiple times, and killed seven police officers and three federal agents. Anna Sage, Romanian-born brothel madam and friend of Dillinger’s, agreed to cooperate with the FBI in exchange for leniency in an upcoming deportation hearing. Sage and Dillinger went to see the gangster movie Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph Theatre where FBI agents and police officers were staked out.
U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch, a prisoner-of-war who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital, received a hero's welcome when she returned to her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia The story of the 19-year-old supply clerk, who was captured by Iraqi forces in March 2003, gripped America; however, it was later revealed that some details of Lynch's dramatic capture and rescue might have ben exaggerated. Critics—and Lynch herself—charged the U.S. government with embellishing her story to boost patriotism and help promote the controversial Iraq war. According to Lynch: “I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary.” She added: “The truth of war is not always easy to hear but is always more heroic than the hype."
Just after completing his memoirs, Civil War hero and former president Ulysses S. Grant dies of throat cancer. As supreme commander of Union forces, Grant led troops in a series of epic and bloody battles against Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Grant’s talent as political leader paled woefully in comparison to his military prowess. He was unable to stem the rampant corruption that plagued his administration. However, successes of Grant’s tenure include passage of the Enforcement Act in 1870, which temporarily curtailed the political influence of the Ku Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South, and the 1875 Civil Rights Act, which attempted to desegregate public places.
21-year-old Vanessa Williams gave up her Miss America title, the first resignation in the pageant’s history, after Penthouse magazine announces plans to publish nude photos of the beauty queen. Williams originally made history on September 17, 1983, when she became the first Black woman to win the Miss America crown. Vanessa Williams rebounded from the Miss America scandal and went on to a successful entertainment career as an actress and recording artist, performing on Broadway as well as in movies and television and releasing a number of albums.
The U.S women's gymnastics team won its first-ever team gold at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Nicknamed the "magnificent seven," the team was made up of seven talented teenage girls: Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominque Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug. Kerri Strug famously and bravely executed a perfect one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko, landing solidly on two feet and a badly sprained ankle. She spun and hopped on one foot towards the judges’ table before collapsing in pain when her gold clinching score of 9.712 was announced.