1138 – A massive earthquake strikes Aleppo, Syria.
1614 – Adriaen Block and 12 Amsterdam merchants petition the States General for exclusive trading rights in the New Netherland colony.
1809 – Along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee, explorer Meriwether Lewis dies under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder’s Stand.
1811 – Inventor John Stevens’ boat, the Juliana, begins operation as the first steam-powered ferry with service between New York City and Hoboken.
John Stevens was born in 1749 and served as a captain in Washington’s army. After the war, as treasurer of the state of New Jersey, it is said, he bought an estate, at auction, that was confiscated from William Bayard, a Tory landowner. It was known as Bayard’s farm, and is now known as the city of Hoboken. As an engineer and inventor, he dabbled in steam power and in 1802 built a screw-driven steam-powered boat, in 1806, he built a larger steamship that traveled from Hoboken to Philadelphia becoming the first steamship to ply the open ocean.In 1811, he operated the first steam powered transHudson ferry called the Juliana. And all the while married to Rachel Cox and raising 13 children.
1910 – Former President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane. He flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright brothers at Kinloch Field, St. Louis, Missouri.
1950 – Television: CBS’s mechanical color system is the first to be licensed for broadcast by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
1958 – Pioneer program: NASA launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1 (the probe falls back to Earth and burns up).
1968 – Apollo program: NASA launches Apollo 7, the first successful manned Apollo mission, with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham aboard.
1975 – NBC’s Saturday Night Live debuts.
1984 – Aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan becomes the first American woman to walk in space.
1986 – Cold War: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Reykjavík, Iceland, in an effort to continue discussions about scaling back their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe.
2001 – The Polaroid Corporation files for federal bankruptcy protection.
1679 – Christian Vater, German organ builder (d. 1756)
1835 – Theodore Thomas, American conductor, founded the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (d. 1905)
1844 – Henry J. Heinz, businessman, founded the H. J. Heinz Company (d. 1916)
1884 – Eleanor Roosevelt, 39th First Lady of the United States (d. 1962)
1905 – Fred Trump, American businessman (d. 1999)
1918 – Jerome Robbins, American director, producer, and choreographer (d. 1998)
1919 – Art Blakey, American drummer and bandleader (d. 1990)
1924 – André Emmerich, German-American art dealer (d. 2007)
Chico Marx at the piano from Animal Crackers
1347 – Louis IV, Roman Emperor (b. 1282)
1779 – Casimir Pulaski, Polish-American general (b. 1745)
1809 – Meriwether Lewis, American captain, explorer, and politician, 2nd Governor of Louisiana Territory (b. 1774)
1961 – Chico Marx, American actor (b. 1887)
1965 – Dorothea Lange, American photographer and journalist (b. 1895)
2007 – Sri Chinmoy, Indian-American spiritual leader and poet (b. 1931)