Today is Saturday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2013. There are 101 days left in the year.
On Sept. 21, 1912, magician Harry Houdini first publicly performed his so-called Chinese Water Torture Cell trick at the Circus Busch in Berlin, escaping after being immersed upside-down in a vertical water tank, his ankles secured in a set of stocks which made up the tank lid, which was locked into place.
On this date:
In 1792, the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.
In 1893, one of America’s first horseless carriages was taken for a short test drive in Springfield, Mass., by Frank Duryea, who had designed the vehicle with his brother, Charles.
In 1897, the New York Sun ran its famous editorial, written anonymously by Francis P. Church, which declared, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
In 1912, legendary cartoon animator Chuck Jones was born in Spokane.
In 1937, “The Hobbit,” by J.R.R. Tolkien, was first published by George Allen &Unwin Ltd. of London.
In 1938, a hurricane struck parts of New York and New England, causing widespread damage and claiming some 700 lives.
In 1948, Milton Berle made his debut as permanent host of “The Texaco Star Theater” on NBC-TV.
In 1962, “The Jack Paar Program,” a weekly, prime-time show that followed Paar’s stint on “The Tonight Show,” began a three-year run.
In 1970, “NFL Monday Night Football” made its debut on ABC-TV as the Cleveland Browns defeated the visiting New York Jets, 31-21.
In 1982, Amin Gemayel, brother of Lebanon’s assassinated president-elect, Bashir Gemayel, was himself elected president. National Football League players began a 57-day strike, their first regular-season walkout.
In 1987, NFL players called a strike, mainly over the issue of free agency. (The 24-day walkout prompted football owners to hire replacement players.)
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo crashed into Charleston, S.C. (the storm was blamed for 26 directly caused U.S. deaths). Twenty-one students in Alton, Texas, died when their school bus, involved in a collision with a soft-drink delivery truck, careened into a water-filled pit.
Ten years ago: Former Citigroup CEO John S. Reed was named temporary head of the New York Stock Exchange. Paul Martin was elected by Canada’s Liberal Party to succeed Jean Chretien as prime minister. NASA’s aging Galileo spacecraft deliberately plunged into Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, bringing a fiery conclusion to a 14-year exploration of the solar system’s largest planet and its moons.
Five years ago: South African President Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation. “Mad Men” became the first basic-cable show to win the top series Emmy; “30 Rock” and its stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin won comedy awards. The United States took back the Ryder Cup with a 16 1/2-11 1/2 victory over Europe. Baseball said farewell to the original Yankee Stadium as the Bronx Bombers defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-3.
One year ago: No one was injured when a plane carrying Ann Romney made an emergency landing in Denver after smoke filled the cabin. The wife of the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was traveling from Omaha, Neb., to Los Angeles, when an apparent electrical fire broke out. A man was bitten multiple times after leaping from a monorail into a tiger exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. People lined up to buy Apple’s iPhone5 as it went on sale in the United States and several other countries.