Today in History: Nearly 100 killed in Puerto Rico hotel fire, 1986
Today is Tuesday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2019.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 31, 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)
On this date:
In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.
In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light by illuminating some 40 bulbs at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
In 1904, New York’s Times Square saw its first New Year’s Eve celebration, with an estimated 200,000 people in attendance.
In 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
In 1972, Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, 38, was killed when a plane he chartered and was traveling on to bring relief supplies to earthquake-devastated Nicaragua crashed shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.
In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas.
In 1987, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s first executive president.
In 1991, representatives of the government of El Salvador and rebels reached agreement at the United Nations on a peace accord to end 12 years of civil war.
In 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation (he was succeeded by Vladimir Putin).
In 1997, Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville at age 64.
In 2001, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spent his final day in office praising police, firefighters, and other city employees in the wake of 9/11, and said he had no regrets about returning to private life.
Ten years ago: A lone gunman dressed in black killed five people in Espoo, Finland, four of them at a crowded shopping mall, before returning home and taking his own life.
Five years ago: In one of his final acts as Maryland governor, Democrat Martin O’Malley announced that he would commute the sentences of four death-row inmates to life in prison without parole.