What Happened on July 17?

  • Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. (1955) Live television coverage of the dedication happened on this day, and the park opened to the public on July 18th. Walt Disney himself supervised the design of the theme park, which sees more than 15 million visitors each year. This is a higher cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with more than 600 million total visitors.

  • TWA flight 800 exploded after taking off from John F. Kennedy airport. (1996) The flight, bound for Paris and then Rome, exploded 12 minutes after takeoff, killing all 230 people on board. Though there was speculation, no evidence of a terrorist attack was ever found.

  • Woolworth Corp. closed its 400 remaining dime stores after 117 years in business. (1997) Frank Winfield Woolworth opened the first Woolworth five-and-dime store in Utica, New York, in 1878, but it failed. He opened a second store the following year in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and one of the largest retail store chains in the US was born. 9,200 people were laid off when the chain closed 117 years later.

  • Two ships carrying weapons for World War II collided in Port Chicago, California — 320 people were killed. (1944) Under unsafe conditions, munitions exploded while being loaded onto a ship — 320 people died and 390 were injured. The event led to the "Port Chicago Mutiny," in which servicemen refused to continue loading cargo.

  • A US spacecraft docked with a Russian spacecraft, the first superpower docking of its kind. (1975) The Apollo 18 mission was the last of the Apollo missions — though some consider the Apollo 17 mission the last and don't number this one as part of the series. Its link-up with the Russian craft Soyuz was the first space-flight collaboration between the two countries.

  • The Great Train Wreck of 1856 happened in Pennsylvania — it was the deadliest train wreck in the world up to that point. (1856) Two trains collided going in opposite directions on the same track — one train was running late and failed to communicate that fact with dispatch. More than 60 people were killed and more than 100 injured.

  • Pilot Douglas Corrigan got his "Wrong Way" nickname flying from New York to Ireland instead of his scheduled destination of Long Beach, California. (1938) Though he never publicly admitted he made the "error" intentionally, there is some evidence that the errant flight may have been a planned "mistake." Corrigan was a highly-skilled aviator and had been previously denied permission to fly to Ireland from New York nonstop, and he had recently made alterations to his plane that would prepare it for a transatlantic crossing.

  • The worst airplane crash in Brazil's history happened, killing about 200 people. (2007) TAM Linhas Aereas Flight 3054 crash landed at the airport in Sao Paulo. The plane overshot the runway, crossed a major freeway during rush hour and hit a warehouse next door to a gas station, causing an explosion. The crash is the deadliest in Latin America, and it's the deadliest in the world for an A320 Airbus.

  • The fist dental school in the US opened. (1867) The Harvard School of Dental Medicine opened in Boston, Massachusetts. It remains open today and is considered a small dental school — it has about 280 total students each year. It's also the smallest school at Harvard.

  • Cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants premiered on Nickelodeon. (1999) Created by a marine biologist and animator named Stephen Hillenburg, the cartoon gained popularity in its second season and continues that popularity today. It's the highest-rated show on the Nickelodeon television network.

  • 12 people were killed in Scillium, North Africa, for being Christian. (180) The execution marks the earliest recorded existence of Christianity in that region.

Discussion Comments


@Chmander - I agree that the show really began to lose steam around 2005. After the Spongebob Squarepants Movie finished production in 2004, the creator (Stephen Hillenburg) actually wanted to cancel the show because he was afraid it would go in the wrong direction. However, Nickelodeon forced him to make new episodes because they wanted the money. Well, they got what they wanted, and the recent episodes aren't anywhere near as good as the older ones.


When I was a kid, Spongebob Squarepants was one of my favorite shows. The animation wasn't too good in the first season, but the writing more than made up for it. I also enjoyed seasons two and three. However, around 2005, I feel that the quality began to take a dip. In fact, that seems to be a problem with a lot of long running cartoons. At the beginning, the writers have a lot of fresh ideas. However, as the show goes on, they start rehashing ideas, or putting a twist on plots they've already used.


The last bullet point leads me to wonder how much Christian persecution goes on nowadays. I'm assuming that it's not as severe as it used to be, but it could still happen in other foreign countries. No matter what someone believes, no one should have to die for what they believe in.

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