The first Corvette rolled off the production line. (1953) The car only came in white with a black top and red interior. Optional features included a curtain instead of roll-up windows and interior door handles. 300 cars were made the first year and sold for $3,498 U.S. Dollars.
Britain gave Hong Kong back to China after 156 years. (1997) British took control of Hong Kong as a colony after the First Opium War in 1842. Japan briefly occupied Hong Kong during the Pacific War from 1941 to 1945, then the British took back control.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could ban homosexual acts. (1986) In a 5-4 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, the Court held that homosexual acts were not protected by the right to privacy.
Spain legalized same-sex marriage. (2005) The law took effect, however, on July 3, 2005. Spain is one of four countries that have legalized gay marriage; the other three are Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Tonya Harding was banned for life from figure skating for hiring a man to break her rival's leg. (1994) Shane Stant was hired by Harding and her husband to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg. He waited for her after skating practice one day and broke her leg with a police baton. Though Harding later admitted to helping cover up the attack, she was allowed to participate in the Olympics because her involvement wasn't proven at the time.
The longest running show in radio and television history, The Guiding Light, debuted on TV. (1952) The soap opera started as a radio show, airing from January 25, 1937, to June 29, 1956. On this day, the show premiered on TV for the first time. In the first years, episodes were 15 minutes long; in 1968, they increased to 30 minutes, and then to an hour in 1977. The show was canceled in 2009.
A French acrobat walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. (1859) Charles Blondin actually walked the 1,100 feet (335 meters) long rope that was 160 feet (50 meters) above the water.
President James Garfield's assassin was hanged. (1882) Charles J. Guiteau, a lawyer, assassinated President Garfield on July 2, 1881. He insisted he was working under orders from God. He was hanged in Washington D.C.
Einstein published the paper that introduced what would become his theory of relativity. (1905) The Annus Mirabilis papers, as they became known, were published in a scientific journal called Annalen der Physik. The theories conveyed in the four papers significantly influenced and altered modern physics.
Hitler began killing his political opponents in what would become known as "The Night of the Long Knives." (1934) More than 85 people were killed — though some estimates are actually in the hundreds — during the three-day "purge." This act of violence helped further solidify Hitler's political position and his rise to power.