1802: Washington, D.C., is incorporated as a city.
1851: A fire breaks out in San Francisco and burns for much of the following day. The fire destroyed three-fourths of the city and killed 30 people.
1877: Tecumseh Park in London, Ontario, Canada, hosts its first baseball game, a contest between the London Tecumsehs and its junior team, the London Atlantics. Now known as Labatt Memorial Park, the stadium is today considered the oldest continually operating baseball grounds in the world.
1898: Golda Meir, the teacher and politician who became the fourth prime minister of Israel in 1969, is born Golda Mabovich in Kiev, Russian Empire.
1901: The Great Fire of 1901 begins in Jacksonville, Fla., when a fire caused by a boiler explosion at a candle factory spreads to a nearby mattress factory. Over the course of the next eight hours, the fire burns 146 city blocks, destroying more than 2,368 buildings, killing seven and leaving almost 10,000 residents homeless.
1903: Singer and actor Bing Crosby, one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century and the star of movies such as "White Christmas," "Going My Way" and "The Bells of St. Mary's," is born Harry Lillis Crosby in Tacoma, Wash.
1906: Actress Mary Astor, best known for her role opposite Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon," is born Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke in Quincy, Ill. Astor, who began her acting career as a teen in the silent movies of the 1920s, also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for 1941's "The Great Lie" and appeared in movies such as "Dodsworth," "Red Dust," "The Palm Beach Story" and "Meet Me in St. Louis."
1919: Folk singer-songwriter and activist Pete Seeger is born in Patterson, N.Y. Seeger became a fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s and had a string of hits during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, including their recording of the song "Goodnight, Irene," which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. The writer of songs such as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Turn, Turn, Turn!," he became a prominent singer of protest music in the 1960s. He died of natural causes at age 94 on Jan. 27, 2014.
1921: West Virginia becomes the first state to legislate a broad sales tax. However, the state wouldn't implement the tax until a number of years later due to issues surrounding its enforcement.
1921: Sugar Ray Robinson, often hailed as the greatest boxer of all time, is born Walker Smith Jr. in either Ailey, Ga., (according to his birth certificate) or Detroit, Mich., (according to his autobiography). Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951, and also won the world middleweight title in the latter year. He retired in 1952 following a loss while attempting to win the World Light Heavyweight title, but returned in 1955, eventually recapturing the middleweight title. He lost and reclaimed that title two more times over the next three years. He retired for good in 1965 with a career record of 173–19–6 and died from Alzheimer's disease at the age of 67 on April 12, 1989.
1926: Actress Ann B. Davis, best known for playing housekeeper Alice Nelson on the sitcom "The Brady Bunch," is born in Schenectady, N.Y.
1933: Singer-songwriter and music producer James Brown, one of the founding fathers of funk music with a career that spanned six decades, is born in Barnwell, S.C. Known as "The Godfather of Soul," Brown built a reputation as a tireless live performer and charted 17 No. 1 singles on the R&B charts, including "Try Me," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" and "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud."
1934: Pop singer Frankie Valli, best known for hits such as "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man" and "Rag Doll" recorded with The Four Seasons, is born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio in Newark, N.J. Valli also had No. 1 hits with the solo songs "My Eyes Adored You" and "Grease."
1936: Future Baseball Hall of Fame great Joe DiMaggio, familiarly referred to by the nicknames "Joltin' Joe" and "The Yankee Clipper," makes his major-league debut for the New York Yankees. DiMaggio, who played only for the Yankees during his 13-year career and is best known for his 56-game hitting streak during the 1941 season, helped the team to World Series titles in each of his first four seasons and added five more championships before he retired in 1951.
1937: Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone with the Wind" wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
1946: TV sportscaster Greg Gumbel is born in New Orleans, La. The older brother of news and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel, he became the first black announcer to call play-by-play of a major sports championship in the United States when he announced Super Bowl XXXV for CBS in 2001.
1947: Magician Doug Henning, who started his career with a live theatrical magic show and became a TV star in the mid-1970s, is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Henning earned a Tony Award nomination in 1974 for his Broadway show "The Magic Show" and more than 50 million viewers tuned in for the December 1975 broadcast of the TV special "Doug Henning's World of Magic," in which he recreated Harry Houdini's famous and highly dangerous water torture escape. The show was the first of seven annual broadcasts that would eventually bring Henning seven Emmy nominations.
1948: The U.S. Supreme Court rules, in Shelley v. Kraemer, that covenants prohibiting the sale of real estate to blacks and other minorities are legally unenforceable.
1951: The United States Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees begin their closed door hearings into the dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur by U.S. President Harry Truman. MacArthur was relieved of overall command in Korea for making public statements that contradicted the Truman administration's policies. The decision led to a storm of public controversy for Truman, with polls showing the majority of the public disapproved of the decision and his approval rating falling to 22 percent by early the next year.
1951: Singer-songwriter and music producer Christopher Cross, whose 1979 debut album earned five Grammys and who is known for hits such as "Sailing," "Ride Like the Wind" and "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," is born Christopher Charles Geppert in San Antonio, Texas.
1957: Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley agrees in principle to move the team from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Los Angeles, Calif., during a meeting with Los Angeles city officials. The team would move following the 1957 MLB season.
1960: The off-Broadway musical comedy "The Fantasticks" opens in New York City's Greenwich Village. The production would run for a total of 42 years and 17,162 performances, making it the world's longest-running musical.
1960: The Anne Frank House opens in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
1968: Dr. Denton Cooley of the Texas Heart Institute performs the first successful heart transplant in the United States on Everett Thomas, whose heart was damaged from rheumatic heart disease. Thomas lived for 204 days with the heart donated from a 15-year-old girl. In 1969, Cooley would become the first heart surgeon to implant an artificial heart in man.
1970: Actor Bobby Cannavale, best known for his TV work on the shows "Third Watch," "Will & Grace," "Nurse Jackie" and "Boardwalk Empire," is born in Union City, N.J. Cannavale also appeared in movies such as "The Station Agent," "Snakes on a Plane" and "Shall We Dance?"
1973: The 108-story Sears Tower in Chicago is topped out at 1,451 feet as the world's tallest building. It would hold that distinction for 25 years, until the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, opened in 1998.
1975: Actress Christina Hendricks, best known for her role as Joan Harris on the TV series "Mad Men," is born in Knoxville, Tenn. She also had recurring roles on "ER" and the short-lived sci-fi series "Firefly" and has appeared in movies such as "Life as We Know It," "Drive" and "I Don't Know How She Does It."
1978: The first unsolicited bulk commercial email (which would later become known as "spam") is sent by a Digital Equipment Corporation marketing representative to every ARPANET address on the west coast of the United States.
1979: Margaret Thatcher is elected to her first term as prime minister of the United Kingdom.
1984: Professional dancer Cheryl Burke, best known for the dancing competition show "Dancing with the Stars," is born in San Francisco, Calif. Burke became the first female professional dancer to win the competition, pairing with with 98 Degrees member Drew Lachey in the second season, and won again in the third season, that time pairing with former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith.
1988: The White House acknowledges that first lady Nancy Reagan had used astrological advice to help schedule President Ronald Reagan's activities. The closely guarded secret outed in a memoir by former White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, who wrote that the first lady first turned to astrologer Joan Quigley in 1981 after John Hinckley's attempted assassination of the president.
1990: Levi Johnston, the former fiancé of Bristol Palin, is born in Alaska. Johnston first received media attention in August 2008 when U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced that her daughter Bristol was five months pregnant with Johnston's baby and that the two were engaged. The couple eventually broke up, amid several public feuds between their families, and Johnston began pursuing a career as a model and a actor. He also wrote a book about his experiences with the Palin family, titled "Deer in the Headlights."
1999: The southwestern portion of Oklahoma City, Okla., is devastated by an F5 tornado, killing 48 people, injuring 665, and causing $1 billion in damage. The tornado was just one of at least 66 from an outbreak of tornadoes across Oklahoma and Kansas on the day. It also produced the highest wind speed ever recorded, measured at 301 +/- 20 mph.
2002: The superhero action movie "Spider-Man," starring Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, and directed by Sam Raimi, premieres in theaters. The film would become a critical and financial success, earning $821.7 million worldwide to rank as 2002's third highest-grossing film.
2006: Earl Woods, the father of professional golfer Tiger Woods, dies of a heart attack at the age of 74 in Cypress, Calif. A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran, the elder Woods introduced his son to golf when Tiger was 2 years old and coached him for his first years in the sport. Earl Woods was an athlete himself as a single-figure handicap amateur golfer who had been one of the earliest black college baseball players at Kansas State University.
2007: American astronaut Wally Schirra, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury, dies of a heart attack due to malignant mesothelioma at the age of 84 in La Jolla, Calif. Schirra, who was the fifth American to fly into space, is the only person to fly in all of America's first three space programs (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) and logged a total of 295 hours and 15 minutes in space.
2010: United and Continental airlines announce that the two companies will merge, creating the world's largest airline. The merger became official the following year, with the new company retaining the United Airlines name.
2011: American actor Jackie Cooper, the first child actor to receive an Academy Award nomination, dies of natural causes at the age of 88 in Santa Monica, Calif. Cooper was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor at the age of 9 for the 1931 movie "Skippy," making him the youngest actor to be nominated for the award. For nearly 50 years, he would remain the youngest Oscar nominee in any category, until he was surpassed by Justin Henry's nomination, at age 8, in the Best Supporting Actor category for 1979's "Kramer vs. Kramer." As a child actor, Cooper also appeared in the "Our Game" comedy series and also appeared in movies such as "The Champ," "The Bowery" and a 1934 version of "Treasure Island." As an adult he worked as a TV executive, producer and director, with his work directing episodes of "M*A*S*H" and "The White Shadow" earning him Emmy Awards. He also found renewed fame in the 1970s and 1980s as Daily Planet editor Perry White (pictured) in the "Superman" film series starring Christopher Reeve.