On This Day, December 28th
1. 1895: The first paid public screening of a movie
It was on this date in 1895 that two French brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumiere, sold tickets to what is arguably the first public movie screening in history. The brothers had invented what they called the ‘Cinematographe’, which was basically a camera that could also be used as a projector. They first unveiled the invention in March earlier that year where they showed a brief example of what the device could do by showing a few of the workers leaving the Lumiere factory. But it was on this date at the Grand Cafe in Paris where they first displayed a series of short scenes showing the everyday life of French citizens. The Lumiere brothers opened a few theaters the following year but eventually moved out of the movie business because they felt it didn’t have a future. Boy were they wrong!
2. 1908: Devastating earthquake hits Sicily
The island of Sicily was devastated when an earthquake measuring 7.5 magnitude on the Richter scale shook beneath the town of Messina for an estimated 35 seconds on this date in 1908. According to reports, just after 5 a.m. the ground started to shake violently and buildings started to collapse due to the extremely poor building codes at the time. Shortly thereafter, a tsunami that was said to be at least 8-10 feet tall crashed on the shores and proceeded to travel at least 100 yards inland. Many of the surrounding cities such as Malta and Reggio were also hit pretty hard with tsunamis created by the quake. However, it was Messina that was by far hit the hardest. Countless building were reduced to a pile of rubble, including the prison which apparently the inmates escaped and started looting all over town while rescue workers attempted to save as many as they could. In the end, it would go down as one of the deadliest earthquakes in European history with more than 120,000 casualties when all was said and done.
3. 1991: Stampede at hip-hop celebrity basketball game
It was on this date in 1991 that a hip-hop celebrity basketball game held in New York City turned violent, leaving a total of nine casualties due to the event being oversold. Headlining the event was rap artist Heavy D, as well a quite a few other big names in the industry at that time such as Run DMC and Big Daddy Kane. Also, one of the organizers was none other than Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs who was completely unknown at that point in his career. The gymnasium where the event was scheduled to be held only had a capacity of 2,730 people, and according to later reports given by Combs, they claim to have only sold 2,150 tickets. However on the night of the event, more than 3,000 people showed up claiming they had paid the $420 for admission. When the crowd was told that the venue was at capacity, they got extremely unruly and started to try and force their way in. This resulted in nine victims being trampled to death and as many as 28 more severely injured. The justice system ended up placing 50% of the blame on both the promoters of the event, Puff Daddy and Heavy D, as well as the City University of New York who owned the building.