Timeline of New York City Events, Crimes and Disasters - Historic Events, Crimes, or Disasters - 20th Century

20th Century

  • January 8, 1902 – A train collision in the original Park Avenue tunnel kills 17 and injures 38.
  • June 15, 1904 – The General Slocum, carrying 1300 to a picnic site on Long Island, catches fire while on the East River alongside Astoria, Queens. Over 1000 passengers are killed, a major factor in the demise of the Little Germany neighborhood.
  • March 14, 1905 – Fire swept through an overcrowded tenement at 105 Allen Street on the Lower East Side, killing at least twenty people and injuring numerous more.
  • June 25, 1906 – Stanford White is shot and killed by Harry Kendall Thaw at what was then Madison Square Gardens. The murder would soon be dubbed "The Crime of the Century".
  • 1909 – Hudson-Fulton Celebration (1909)
  • August 9, 1910 – Reformist Mayor William Jay Gaynor is shot in the throat in Hoboken, New Jersey by former city employee James Gallagher. He eventually dies in September 1913 from effects of the wound.
  • March 25, 1911 – 145 employees, mostly women, are killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire near Washington Square Park, some by being forced to jump from the building by the fire.
  • September 22, 1915 – 25 are killed during construction of IRT Subway in collapse on Seventh Avenue between 23rd and 25th Street.
  • July 30, 1916 – The Black Tom explosion set off by German saboteurs at a munitions arsenal on a small island in New York Harbor kills seven in Jersey City, New Jersey and causes damage as far as the Brooklyn waterfront and even Times Square.
  • 1918 – The "Great Influenza Pandemic" rages across the country and worldwide. On one particularly virulent October day, 851 people died in New York City alone.
  • November 1, 1918 – The actions of a substitute motorman filling in during a strike lead to a subway crash in Flatbush. The Malbone Street Wreck kills 97 people heading home from work and injures a hundred more.
  • September 16, 1920 – The Wall Street bombing kills 38 at "the precise center, geographical as well as metaphorical, of financial America and even of the financial world." Anarchists were suspected (Sacco and Vanzetti had been indicted just days before) but no one was ever charged with the crime.
  • August 24, 1928 – A subway crash caused by a defective switch below Times Square kills 16 and injures 150.
  • August 6, 1930 – The disappearance of Joseph Force Crater, an Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court. He was last seen entering a New York City taxicab. Crater was declared legally dead in 1939. His mistress Sally Lou Ritz (22) disappeared a few weeks later.
  • March 19, 1935 – The arrest of a shoplifter inflames racial tensions in Harlem and escalates to rioting and looting, with three killed, 125 injured and 100 arrested.
  • August 11, 1937 – Heavy rains cause a tenement in New Brighton to collapse, killing 19.
  • September 21, 1938 – The New England Hurricane of 1938 strikes Long Island and continues into New England, killing 564. In New York City, ten people are killed and power is lost across upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
  • 1939 – 1939 New York World's Fair exhibits included:
    • The World of Tomorrow
    • Futurama (New York World's Fair)
    • Trylon and Perisphere
  • November 16, 1940 – "Mad Bomber" George Metesky plants the first bomb of his 16-year campaign of public bombings.
  • August 1, 1943 – A race riot erupts in Harlem after an African-American soldier is shot by the police and rumored to be killed. The incident touches off a simmering brew of racial tension, unemployment, and high prices to a day of rioting and looting. Several looters are shot dead,with blood everywhere, and about 500 persons are injured and another 500 arrested.
  • July 28, 1945 – A B-25 Mitchell bomber accidentally crashes into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, killing 13 people.
  • June 25, 1946 – Fire destroys the St. George terminal of the Staten Island Ferry, killing 3 and injuring 280.
  • May 13, 1949 – Holland Tunnel fire caused by exploding truck carrying eighty 55-gallon drums of carbon disulfide seriously damages the tunnel's infrastructure and injures 66, with 27 hospitalized, mostly from smoke inhalation.
  • November 22, 1950 - The Kew Gardens train crash kills 78 people, injuring 363 others.
  • February 1, 1957 – Northeast Airlines Flight 823 crashes on Rikers Island on takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, killing 21 of the 101 on board.
  • February 3, 1959 – American Airlines Flight 320 crashes in the East River on approach to LaGuardia Airport, killing 65 of the 73 people on board.
  • December 16, 1960 – Mid-air collision between TWA Flight 266 (inbound to Idlewild Airport, now JFK) and United Airlines Flight 826 (inbound to LaGuardia Airport) over Miller Field, Staten Island. The TWA aircraft crashed at the site, killing all aboard, while the United aircraft continued flying for about eight miles until it crashed in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, narrowly missing a school. All 134 aboard the aircraft died, along with six persons on the ground in Brooklyn.
  • March 1, 1962 – American Airlines Flight 1 crashes immediately after takeoff from Idlewild Airport, killing all 95 on board.
  • October 3, 1962 – 23 are killed and 94 injured when an improperly maintained and operated steam boiler explodes and rips through a New York Telephone Company building cafeteria at lunchtime in the Inwood section of Manhattan.
  • November 30, 1962 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 512 crashes when trying to make a go-round after failing to land at Idlewild Airport in the fog. 25 of the 51 on board are killed.
  • April 20, 1963 – Three brush fires on Staten Island destroy 100 homes.
  • August 28, 1963 – The Career Girls Murders: Emily Hoffert and Janet Wylie, two young professionals, are murdered in their Upper East Side apartment by an intruder. Richard Robles a young white man was ultimately apprehended in 1965 after investigators erroneously arrested and forced a false confession from a black man, George Whitmore who was completely innocent of the crime. Although Whitmore was compelled to wrongfully spend many years incarcerated he was eventually released after his innocence was established, while Robles, now 69, remains in prison as of 2012.
  • March 13, 1964 – Kitty Genovese is stabbed 82 times in Kew Gardens, Queens by Winston Moseley. The crime is witnessed by numerous people, none of whom aid Genovese or call for help. The crime is noted by psychology textbooks in later years for its demonstration of the bystander effect, although an article published in the New York Times in February 2004 indicated that many of the popular conceptions of the crime were instead misconceptions. Moseley, now 77, remains incarcerated as of 2012.
  • July 18, 1964 – Riots break out in Harlem in protest over the killing of a 15-year old by a white NYPD officer. One person is killed and 100 are injured in the violence.
  • 1964 – 1964/1965 New York World's Fair
  • February 8, 1965 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 663 crashes at Jones Beach when after takeoff from JFK it is forced to evade inbound PanAm Flight 212. All 84 on board are killed.
  • February 21, 1965 – Black nationalist leader Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom by three members of the Nation of Islam.
  • November 9, 1965 – New York City is affected as part of the Northeast Blackout of 1965.
  • January 1, 1966 - New York City Transit workers strike for 12 days following failed contract negotiations between TWU Local 100 and the MTA.
  • October 17, 1966 – A fire across 23rd Street from Madison Square kills 12 members of the New York City Fire Department when a floor collapses beneath them. It was the worst day in the FDNY's history until September 11, 2001.
  • October 8, 1967 – James "Groovy" Hutchinson, 21, an East Village hippie/stoner, and Linda Fitzpatrick, 18, a newly-converted flower child from a wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut family, are found bludgeoned to death at 169 Avenue B, an incident dubbed "The Groovy Murders" by the press. Two drifters later plead guilty to the murders.
  • July 3, 1968 – Bulgarian immigrant and Neo-Nazi, Angel Angelof, opens fire from a lavatory roof in Central Park, killing a 24-year old woman and an 80-year old man before being gunned down by the police.
  • June 28, 1969 – A questionable police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar, is resisted by the patrons and leads to a riot. The event helps inspire the founding of the modern gay rights movement.
  • 1970 – The Knapp Commission begins its investigation of police corruption
  • March 6, 1970 – Greenwich Village townhouse explosion: Three members of the domestic terrorist group the Weathermen are killed when a nail bomb they were building accidentally explodes in the basement of a townhouse on 18 West 11th Street.
  • May 21, 1971 – Two NYPD officers, Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini,are gunned down in ambush by members of the Black Liberation Army in Harlem. The gunmen, Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom, still in prison as of 2012, were rearrested in jail in connection with the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer.
  • April 7, 1972 – Mob Boss Joe Gallo is gunned down at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy. The incident serves as the inspiration for the Bob Dylan's epic "Joey" recorded in 1975.
  • August 22, 1972 – John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Natuarale hold up a Brooklyn bank for 14-hours, in a bid to get cash to pay for Wojtowicz' gay lover's sex change operation. The scheme fails when the cops arrive, leading to a tense 14-hour standoff. Natuarale is killed by the police at JFK Airport. The incident served as the basis for the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.
  • February 10, 1973 – 40 workers are killed in an explosion while cleaning an empty LNG tank in Bloomfield, Staten Island.
  • March 3, 1973 – The 102-year-old Broadway Central Hotel at 673 Broadway collapses, killing four residents.
  • January 24, 1975 – Fraunces Tavern, a historical site in lower Manhattan is bombed by the FALN killing 4 people and wounding more than 50.
  • June 24, 1975 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 66 from New Orleans strikes the runway lights at Kennedy airport, probably due to wind shear. 113 of the 124 people on board are killed.
  • December 29, 1975 – A bomb explodes in the baggage claim area of the TWA terminal at LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 and injuring 74. The perpetrators were never identified.
  • July 29, 1976 – David Berkowitz (aka the "Son of Sam") kills one person and seriously wounds another in the first of a series of attacks that terrorized the city for the next year.
  • November 25, 1976 – NYPD officer Robert Torsney fatally shoots unarmed 15-year old Randolph Evans in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Torsney is found not guilty by reason of insanity the following year and is released from a mental hospital in 1979.
  • May 16, 1977 – A New York Airways helicopter idling at the helipad on the MetLife Building – then the PanAm Building – toppled over and its rotor blade sheared off. The blade killed four people on the roof and then fell over the edge and down 59 stories and a block over to Madison Avenue where it killed a pedestrian.
  • May 25, 1977 – A fire at the Everard Baths at 28 West 28th St. in Manhattan killed 9 patrons.
  • July 13–14, 1977 – New York City again loses power in the blackout of 1977. Unlike the previous blackout twelve years earlier, this blackout is followed by widespread rioting and looting. Many neighborhoods, most notably Bushwick, were almost completely devastated.
  • October 12, 1977 – "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning." During Game 2 of the 1977 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, a fire rages out of control at an abandoned elementary school near Yankee Stadium. The images and a dramatic statement on national television by sportscaster Howard Cosell is widely seen as the symbolic nadir of a dark period in city history. The story of 1977 in New York City is later featured in such works as the movie Summer of Sam by Spike Lee and the non-fiction book Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler.
  • October 12, 1978 – Sid Vicious allegedly stabs his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death in their room in the Hotel Chelsea.
  • May 25, 1979 – Six year-old Etan Patz vanishes after leaving his SoHo apartment to walk to his school bus alone. Despite a massive search by the NYPD the boy is never found, and was declared legally dead in 2001.
  • March 14, 1980 – Ex-Congressman Allard Lowenstein is assassinated in his law offices at Rockefeller Center by Dennis Sweeney, a deranged ex-associate.
  • April 1, 1980 - Second New York City Transit strike lasts 11 days.
  • December 8, 1980 – Ex-Beatle John Lennon is murdered in front of his home in The Dakota.
  • June 22, 1982 – Willie Turks, an African-American 34-year old MTA worker is set upon and killed by a white mob in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. 18-year old Gino Bova was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in 1983.
  • October 29, 1984 – 66-year old Eleanor Bumpurs is shot and killed by police as they tried to evict her from her Bronx apartment. Bumpurs, who was mentally ill, was wielding a knife and had slashed one of the officers. The shooting provoked heated debate about police racism and brutality.
  • December 22, 1984 – Bernhard Goetz shoots four men on a subway who tried to rob him, generating weeks of headlines and many discussions about crime and vigilantism in the media.
  • December 16, 1985 – Mob boss Paul Castellano is shot dead in a gangland execution on E. 46th Street in Manhattan.
  • July 7, 1986 – A deranged man, Juan Gonzalez, wielding a machete kills 2 and wounds 9 on the Staten Island Ferry. In 2000 Gonzalez was granted unsupervised leave from his residence at the Bronx Psychiatric Hospital.
  • August 26, 1986 – The preppie murder: Jennifer Levin an 18-year old student is murdered by Robert Chambers in Central Park after the two had left a bar to have sex in the park. The case was sensationalized in the press and raised issues over victims' rights, as Chambers' attorney attempted to smear Levin's reputation to win his client's freedom.
  • September 26, 1986 - The death of Oswaldo Gonzalez. Killed execution style in Brooklyn, NY. Drug related.
  • November 19, 1986 – 20-year old Larry Davis (criminal) opens fire on NYPD officers attempting to arrest him in his sister's apartment in the Bronx. Six officers were wounded, and Davis eluded capture for the next 17 days, during which time he became something of a folk hero in the neighborhood. Davis was stabbed to death in jail in 2008.
  • December 20, 1986 – A white mob in Howard Beach, Queens, attacks three African-American men whose car had broken down in the largely white neighborhood. One of the men, Michael Griffith is chased onto Shore Parkway where is he hit and killed by a passing car. The killing prompted several tempestuous marches through the neighborhood led by Al Sharpton.
  • May 19, 1987 – 11-year old Juan Perez is mauled and killed by two polar bears after he and his friends sneak into their enclosure at the Prospect Park Zoo that night.
  • July 9, 1987 – 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger, a girl afflicted with Down Syndrome, is abducted and murdered in Staten Island by a sex offender and suspected mass murderer, Andre Rand.
  • November 2, 1987 – Joel Steinberg and his lover Hedda Nussbaum are arrested for the beating and neglect of their 6-year old adopted daughter Lisa Steinberg who died two days later from her injuries. The case provoked outrage that did not subside when Steinberg was released from prison in 2004 after serving 15 years.
  • April 14, 1989 – Trisha Meili (aka the Central Park Jogger) is violently raped and beaten while jogging in Central Park. The crime is later attributed to a group of young men who were practicing an activity they called "wilding". However, DNA evidence later proved the originally charged teens innocent; a convicted serial rapist confessed to the crime.
  • August 23, 1989 – Yusuf Hawkins an African-American 16-year old student is set upon and murdered by a white mob in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn in one of the city's worst-ever racial attacks.
  • January 25, 1990 – Avianca Flight 52 to Kennedy airport crashes at Cove Neck, Long Island, after missing an approach and then running out of fuel. 73 of 158 passengers are killed.
  • March 7, 1990 – 12-year old Haitian immigrant David Opont is mugged and set on fire by a 14-year old assailant, who remained anonymous because he was tried as a minor. The attack created an outpouring of support throughout the city for Opont who eventually recovered from his burns.
  • March 8, 1990 – The first of the copycat Zodiac Killer Heriberto Seda's eight shooting victims is wounded in an attack in Brooklyn. Between 1990 and 1993, Seda will wound 5 and kill 3 in his serial attacks. He is captured in 1996 and convicted in 1998.
  • March 25, 1990 – Arson at the Happyland Social Club at 1959 Southern Boulevard in the East Tremont section of the Bronx kills 87 people unable to escape the packed dance club.
  • September 2, 1990 – Utah tourist Brian Watkins is stabbed to death in the Seventh Avenue – 53rd Street station by a gang of youths. Watkins was visiting New York with his family to attend the US Open Tennis tournament in Queens, when he was killed defending his family from a gang of muggers. The killing marked a low point in the record murder year of 1990 and led to an increased police presence in New York.
  • November 5, 1990 – Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, is assassinated at the Marriott East Side Hotel at 48th Street and Lexington Avenue by El Sayyid Nosair.
  • August 19, 1991 – A Jewish automobile driver accidentally kills a seven-year-old African-American boy, thereby touching off the Crown Heights riots, during which an Australian Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum, was fatally stabbed by Lemrick Nelson.
  • August 28, 1991 – A 4 train crashes just north of 14th Street – Union Square, killing 5 people. Motorman Robert Ray, who was intoxicated, fell asleep at the controls and was convicted of manslaughter in 1992.
  • December 28, 1991 – Nine people were crushed to death trying to enter the Nat Holman gymnasium at CCNY. The crowd was trying to gain entry to a celebrity basketball game featuring hip-hop and rap performers including Heavy D and Sean Combs.
  • March 22, 1992 – Ice buildup without subsequent de-icing causes US Airways Flight 405 to crash on takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. 27 of the 51 on board are killed.
  • December 10–13, 1992 – A noreaster strikes the US Mid-Atlantic coast. The storm surge causes extensive flooding along the city shoreline.
  • December 17, 1992 – Patrick Daly, Principal of P.S. 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn is killed in the crossfire of a drug-related shooting while looking for a pupil who had left his school. The school was later renamed the Patrick Daly school after the beloved principal.
  • February 26, 1993 – A bomb planted by terrorists explodes in the World Trade Center's underground garage, killing six people and injuring over a thousand, as well as causing much damage to the basement. See: World Trade Center bombing
  • June 6, 1993 – The Golden Venture, a freighter carrying 286 illegal immigrants from China runs aground a quarter-mile off the coast of Rockaway, Queens killing 10 passengers.
  • December 7, 1993 – Colin Ferguson shoots 25 passengers, killing six, on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train out of Penn Station.
  • March 1, 1994 – 1994 New York school bus shooting – Rashid Baz a Lebanese-born Arab immigrant opens fire on a van carrying members of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect of Jews driving on the Brooklyn Bridge. A 16-year old student, Ari Halberstam later dies of his wounds. Baz was apparently acting out of revenge for the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron, West Bank.
  • August 31, 1994 – William Tager shoots and kills Campbell Theron Montgomery, a technician employed by NBC, outside of the stage of the Today show. Tager is also identified as one of possibly two men who assaulted CBS News anchor Dan Rather on Park Avenue in 1986.
  • December 15, 1994 - Disgruntled computer analyst Edward J. Leary firebombs a #3 train with homemade explosives at 145th Street, injuring two teenagers. Six days later, he firebombs a crowded #4 train at Fulton Street, injuring over 40. Leary is sentenced to 94 years in prison for both attacks.
  • December 22, 1994 – Anthony Baez, a 29-year old Bronx man dies after being placed in an illegal chokehold by NYPD officer Francis X. Livoti. Livoti is sentenced to 7 and a half years in 1998 for violating Baez' civil rights.
  • December 8, 1995 – A long racial dispute in Harlem over the eviction of an African-American record store-owner by a Jewish proprieter ends in murder and arson. 51-year old Roland Smith, Jr., angry over the proposed eviction, set fire to Freddie's Fashion Mart on 125th Street and opened fire on the store's employees, killing 7 and wounding four. Smith also perished in the blaze.
  • March 4, 1996 – Second Avenue Deli owner Abe Lebewohl is shot and killed during a robbery. The murder of this popular deli owner and East Village fixture remains unsolved as of 2012.
  • June 4, 1996 – 22-year old drifter John Royster brutally beats a 32-year old female piano teacher in Central Park, the first in a series of attacks over a period of eight days. Royster would go on to brutally beat another woman in Manhattan, rape a woman in Yonkers and beat a woman, Evelyn Alvarez to death on Park Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In 1998 Royster was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
  • July 17, 1996 – TWA Flight 800 departs Kennedy airport and crashes in the Atlantic Ocean south of Long Island, killing all 230 people on board.
  • February 23, 1997 – Abu Ali Kamal, a 69-year old Palestinian immigrant opens fire on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, killing one and wounding six before taking his own life. In 2007 Kamal's daughter told the New York Daily News that the shooting was politically motivated.
  • May 30, 1997 – Jonathan Levin a Bronx teacher and son of former Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin is robbed and murdered by his former student Corey Arthur.
  • August 9, 1997– Abner Louima is beaten and sodomized with a plunger at the 70th precinct house in Brooklyn by several NYPD officers led by Justin Volpe.
  • November 7, 1997 – A Manhattan couple, Camden Sylvia, 36, and Michael Sullivan, 54, disappear from their loft at 76 Pearl Street in Manhattan after arguing with their landlord over a lack of heat in their apartment. The landlord, Robert Rodriguez, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, larceny and credit card fraud following the missing persons investigation. The couple is presumed dead.
  • September 2, 1998 – Swissair Flight 111 departs Kennedy airport and crashes off the coast of Nova Scotia.
  • January 3, 1999 – 32-year old Kendra Webdale is killed after being pushed in front of an oncoming subway train at the 23rd Street station by Andrew Goldstein, a 29-year old schizophrenic. The case ultimately led to the passage of Kendra's Law.
  • February 4, 1999 – Unarmed African immigrant Amadou Bailo Diallo is shot and killed by 4 New York City police officers, sparking massive protests against police brutality and racial profiling.
  • March 8, 1999 – Amy Watkins a 26-year old social worker from Kansas who worked with battered women in the Bronx, is stabbed to death in a botched robbery near her home in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Her two assailants were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
  • October 31, 1999 – EgyptAir Flight 990 departs Kennedy airport and crashes off the coast of Nantucket.
  • March 24, 2000 - Patrick Dorismond is shot and killed by an NYPD officer in a case of mistaken identity during a drug bust.
  • May 24, 2000 – Five employees of a Flushing, Queens, Wendy's restaurant are killed and two are seriously wounded during a robbery that netted the killers $2,400.

Read more about this topic:  Timeline Of New York City Events, Crimes And Disasters, Historic Events, Crimes, or Disasters

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