Monday, December 31, 2007

Today in History....December 31

* 1862, during the American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union (thus dividing Virginia in two)

* 1879, Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time

* 1891, a new immigration depot is opened on Ellis Island, New York

* 1904, the first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square, then known as Longacre Square, on Manhattan

* 1923, Big Ben's chimes are broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC

* 1929, Guy Lombardo performs Auld Lang Syne at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City for the first time

* 1944, during World War II: Hungary declares war on Germany

* 1946, President Harry Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II

* 1955, General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over
$1 billion in a year

* 1961, the Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than USD $12 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe

* 1963, the Central African Federation officially collapses and splits into Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia

* 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years

* 1983, the AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States government

* 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is officially dissolved

* 1994, this date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC-11 to UTC+13 and UTC-10 to UTC+14, respectively

* 1997, Quaker Oats settles a lawsuit involving the immoral use of child subjects in radioactivity experiments circa 1945-1956

* 1998, exchange rates between the euro and legacy currencies in the Eurozone become fixed

* 1999, Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President. ALSO: Five hijackers, practitioners of that "religion of peace", who had been holding 155 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane, leave the plane with two Islamic "clerics" that they had demanded be freed. AND: The United States Government handed Panama Canal control over to Panama as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties

* 2004, the official opening of Taipei 101, the current tallest skyscraper in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 feet)

* 2006, the United Kingdom pays final installment of Second World War debt to the United States

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