This week in history, the Apollo Theater, famed for its amateur nights, opened its doors and launched the careers of countless performers. Conversely, the Beatles gave their last live performance atop a London recording studio. See how these events and more happened below:
Apollo Theater Opens
One of the most famous clubs and music halls in the country, Harlem’s Apollo Theater, opened its doors on this day in 1934. After being used as a dance hall and “whites-only” theater, the building fell into disrepair in the late 1920s; the theater was purchased and repaired by Frank Schulman in 1933. The Apollo quickly gained popularity for its showcases of black entertainers. The theater’s “Amateur Night” has helped such famous performers as Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin get into show business.
Vietnam Peace Treaty
After years of fighting, the U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War with the “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” at the Paris Peace Conference on this day in 1973. The agreement called for a ceasefire between the North and South Vietnamese, release of U.S. prisoners of war and urged the leaders to find a civil way of mediating their differences. South Vietnam was allowed to keep the land it had gained, as well. After the U.S. pulled out its troops, the South quickly fell to the Communist North.
National Geographic Society Started
Coming together from the fields of geography, cartography, education and the sciences, 33 explorers and friends incorporated the National Geographic Society on this day in 1888. The group met in Washington, D.C.’s Cosmo Club two week’s prior to this date to discuss their ideas for a “society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” Most famous for its magazine and striking photography, the National Geographic Society promotes conservation efforts and owns a cable television station.
A national tragedy and an interstellar setback for NASA happened on this day in 1986. The Challenger space shuttle exploded a mere 73 seconds after lift-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Investigators determined that the cold weather on the morning of the launch contributed to the failure of an essential seal around a rocket booster that caused the explosion. The Challenger explosion claimed the lives of seven astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, the winner of a nationwide search to be “the first teacher in space.” The disaster led to a review of many shuttle safety features and launch procedures.
The Seeing Eye
People with disabilities gained some independence with help from man’s best friend on this day in 1929. The Seeing Eye, the world’s most famous guide dog training program, was founded in Nashville, Tennessee, to assist blind people gain independence in everyday life. The school moved to New Jersey in 1931, where it remains, training and breeding “seeing eye dogs.” Dogs undergo a rigorous four-month training period followed by one month of training with their future partner.
Ireland’s Bloody Sunday
On this day in 1972, British paratroopers killed 14 Northern Irish Catholics during a civil rights rally. The march responded to British policies against Irish nationalists; tensions between the countries and nationalist factions within them had been growing for years. On this Sunday, British troops also injured 17 other people. The 2010 Saville Commission exonerated the demonstrators and blamed the troops for instigating the violence.
Beatles’ Last Live Performance
While recording their last album “Let It Be,” the Beatles climbed to the roof of London’s Apple Records and played one final show for fans and passersby on this day in 1969. The Fab Four had stopped touring in 1966, so this seemingly spur of the moment show was a treat for Beatles enthusiasts. The band would announce its break up publically in mid-1970. The police famously shut down the concert for being too loud.
Jackie Robinson Birthday
One of baseball’s most influential players was born on this day in 1919. Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the major leagues, grew up in Pasadena, California, but would gain fame playing for New York’s Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson won the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year award in 1947 and broke through the color barrier that existed in baseball. His baseball career ended in 1957 as he began to suffer from diabetes. Robinson went on to comment on baseball and politics while remaining an influential member of the sports community. He died in 1972.