On this day, Sept. 21 ...
1912: Harry Houdini first publicly performs his "Water Torture Cell" trick at the Circus Busch in Berlin.
Also on this day:
- 1893: One of America's first horseless carriages is taken for a short test drive in Springfield, Mass., by Frank Duryea, who had designed the vehicle with his brother, Charles.
- 1938: A hurricane strikes parts of New York and New England, causing widespread damage and claiming some 700 lives.
- 1970: "NFL Monday Night Football" makes its debut on ABC as the Cleveland Browns defeat the New York Jets, 31-21.
- 1981: The Senate unanimously confirms the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female justice on the Supreme Court.
- 1985: In North Korea and South Korea, family members separated for decades are allowed to visit each other as both countries open their borders in an unprecedented family-reunion program.
- 1987: NFL players call a strike, mainly over the issue of free agency. (The 24-day walkout prompts football owners to hire replacement players.)
- 1989: Hurricane Hugo crashes into Charleston, S.C. (the storm is blamed for 56 deaths in the Caribbean and 29 in the United States).
- 1996: President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages a day after saying the law should not be used as an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against gays and lesbians. (Although never formally repealed, DoMA would be effectively overturned by U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2013 and 2015.)
- 2008: Baseball says farewell to the original Yankee Stadium as the Bronx Bombers defeat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3.
- 2009: Record flooding hits the Atlanta area, leaving neighborhoods, schools and even sections of roller coasters submerged in several feet of water.
- 2014: Thousands of demonstrators fill the streets of Manhattan and cities around the world to urge policy makers to take action on climate change.
- 2017: Facebook says it would provide congressional investigators with the contents of 3,000 ads that had been bought by a Russian agency; it had already released the ads to federal authorities investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.