1. 1945: United States Military plane crashes into Empire State building
On this date in 1945, a B-25 Mitchel Bomber smashes into the side of the Empire State Building. The plane was flying in from Massachusetts heading towards LaGuardia Airport in New York City when air traffic control gave instructions to head towards Newark instead. This meant they would have to fly directly across Manhattan. On this particular day, there was a heavy fog that made visibility poor at best. The bomber was warned that the tallest building in the city would not be visible. The fog was so bad the pilot disregarded warnings and flew at a dangerously low altitude for the area. It was reported that the plane suddenly came upon the Chrysler Building and made an evasive maneuver to avoid it, but in doing so sent it right into the side of the Empire State Building. Luckily it was a Saturday so there wasn’t nearly the amount of people there as there would be on a weekday. Even still there was a total of 14 casualties, including the three men on board the plane. Although there was a 18 foot by 20 foot hole in the side of the building, structurally it remained unscathed. However, damages were said to be around $1 million which equates to roughly $11 million in today’s economy.
2. 1976: Devastating earthquake strikes China
One of the deadliest earthquakes in modern history took place in Tangshan, China on this date in 1976. The quake measured somewhere between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale, which may not be the highest rated but is still incredibly powerful. Tangshan has a population of right around one million people, and when the quake happened around 3:40 a.m., most of them were in their beds asleep. In the days leading up the quake there were reports of strange phenomena taking place such as chickens refusing to eat, rats frantically running the streets in broad daylight, and maybe most importantly the water levels in local drinking wells rose and fell. The quake reportedly lasted for only 23 seconds, but in that time more than 90% of Tangshan was destroyed, leaving over 160,000 families homeless. Once the dust settled and relief efforts got in to start the cleanup, final death tolls came in with a staggering 242,000 fatalities.
3. 1978: National Lampoon’s Animal House released
It was on this day in 1978 that the cult classic National Lampoon’s Animal House is released by Universal Pictures in theaters all over the United States. It was a spoof-type movie about college life in the 1960’s starring would be famous actors like John Belushi, Kevin Bacon, and Donald Sutherland. Even with a fairly small budget of $3 million to shoot the entire film, Animal House was a box office smash hit and would become even more popular as it reached cult classic status. It was directed by John Landis who also brought us hit titles such as Coming to America, The Blues Brothers and Trading Places. It was reported that some of the writers of the film used their time spent at Dartmouth College as inspiration for the movie. You can still see this movie at house parties all over the country and it probably will stay like that until the end of time.