Today in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire erupted while another deadly blaze broke out in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. Over four-square miles of Chicago was destroyed. The fire continued to burn for three days. In the end, more than 300 people died, 90,000 were left homeless when one-third of the city was destroyed.
Today in 1904, the first official car race – the Vanderbilt Cup Race – was held in Hicksville, New York.
Today in 1918, American soldier Alvin York single-handedly attacked a German gun nest in Argonne, killing at least 25 and capturing 132 Germans.
Today in 1934, Bruno Hauptmann was indicted for the murder of the infant son of Charles Lindbergh. Hauptmann was later found guilty and sentenced to death. Executed in 1936, he maintained his innocence until the end – not hard to do considering that the case against him was largely circumstantial. Well, that and the fact that he was given the option of life in prison instead if he’d just confess – and he chose not to. So if he didn’t do it, who did? The mystery – and a number of theories – continue to circulate.
Today in 1944, the first broadcast of “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” was heard on the CBS Radio Network. The show would continue on radio until 1953 and on ABC-TV from 1952 to 1966. This event coincided with Ozzie and Harriet Nelson's ninth wedding anniversary.
Today in 1945, the microwave oven was patented by Raytheon. It’s inventor, Percy Spencer? He was paid just $2 – the same token payment the company made to all inventors on the company’s payroll at that time for company patents. While the first commercially produced microwave came in 1947 (at a cost of $5-grand, it was 6-feet tall, and tipped the scaled at roughly 750-pounds), the first “normal” model didn’t arrive until 1967. The countertop-sized version came with a price tag of $495).
Today in 1956, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched the only perfect game ever in a World Series, as the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 2 to 0.
Today in 1976,the movie, "The Marathon Man," starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier, premiered.
Today in 1985, the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship "Achille Lauro" [[ah-killie loro]] killed American passenger Leon Klinghoffer, dumping his body and wheelchair overboard.
Today in 1991, the US Senate postponed its vote on Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court nomination to investigate allegations that he'd sexually harassed a former aide, Anita Hill.
Today in 1992, the U.S. Postal Service announced a commemorative stamp booklet that included rock legends Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Ritchie Valens plus R&B stars Clyde McPhatter, Otis Redding and Dinah Washington.
Today in 1993, the government issued a report absolving the FBI of any wrongdoing in its final assault in Waco, Texas on the Branch Davidian compound. The fire that ended the siege killed as many as 85 people – including 26 children. Years later, a probe revealed the ATF’s responsibility in the events and after that, the Feds admitted to use of incendiary devices in the standoff.
Today in 1993, Ted Danson caused a stir when he appeared in blackface and made racially off-color remarks during a Friars Club Roast of then-girlfriend Whoopi Goldberg. The pair later claimed that Whoopi wrote the jokes.
Today in 1995,Americans Edward B. Lewis and Eric F. Wieschaus and German Christiane Nuesslein-Volhard won the Nobel Prize for medicine – for studies of how genes control early embryo development.
Today in 1997, scientists reported the Mars Pathfinder had yielded what could be the strongest evidence yet that Mars might once have been hospitable to life.
Today in 1998, Canada and Netherlands were voted into the U.N. Security Council.
Today in 1998, the House triggered an open-ended impeachment inquiry against President Clinton in a momentous 258-176 vote; 31 Democrats joined the Republican majority in opening the way for nationally televised impeachment hearings.
Today in 1999, Laila Ali, the 21-year-old daughter of Muhammad Ali, made her professional boxing debut by knocking out opponent April Fowler 31-seconds after the opening bell in Verona, New York.
Today in 2001, Liza Minnelli performed at the White House during a Columbus Day celebration.
Today in 2001, Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that he was totally deaf in his left ear and had only partial hearing in his right ear. The condition evolved over a three-month period. He had surgery to install an electronic device in his skull late soon after. At the beginning of this year the process was completed and he is now able to hear about 90% normally.
Today in 2001, President George W. Bush issued an executive order for the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security.
Today in 2002, a federal judge approved U.S. President George W. Bush's request to reopen West Coast ports, which ended a caustic 10-day labor lockout. The lockout was costing the U.S. economy an estimated $1-billion to $2-billion each day.
Today in 2003, Vietnam and the United States reached a tentative agreement that would allow the first commercial flights between the two countries since the end of the Vietnam War.
Today in 2004, Kenyan Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace."
Today in 2003, Siegfried Fischbacher and his manager announced that the "Siegfried and Roy" show at the Mirage would be canceled permanently. It was also said that if his partner, Roy Horn, survived the October 3rd tiger mauling, the duo would continue to work together. Horn did survive, but never took the stage again in regular performances – the duo only ever reunited for a final appearance in 2009.
Today in 2004, the first-ever direct presidential elections were held in Afghanistan.
Today in 2012, John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work on reprogramming end stage cells to become pluripotent (making cells able to become other types of cells).
Today in 2013, Peter Higgs and François Englert won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the origin of the mass of subatomic particles.
Today in 2014, Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy.
Today in 2017, producer Harvey Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company after allegations of sexual abuse.
Today in 2017, wildfires ignited in Northern Californian wine country, killing at least 41 over the next week, with 20,000 evacuated.
Today in 2019, Montgomery, Alabama – the home of the US civil rights movement - elected Steven Reed...the city’s first Black mayor in 200 years. The news was confirmed two days later.
Today in 2019, the FBI confirmed Samuel Little as America's most prolific serial killer, after verifying more than half of his 93 confessed murders.
Today in 2020, American poet Louise Glück was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Today in 2020, the FBI charged 13 men with plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and storm the Michigan Capitol.