On This Date: February 7, 2019

1812
Earthquakes in Missouri cause a fluvial tsunami near Mississippi — that’s when a river starts to run backward!
The tremor was one of a series of quakes that had begun in December the previous year. The February 7th one happened to be the strongest, registering an 8.8 magnitude.
By some estimates, it was the strongest quake in human history.
It made church bells in Boston ring, unprovoked. In Cincinnati, brick walls crumbled. More than 30 boats were hurdled over waterfalls that had formed along the river immediately, killing hundreds.
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1904
A small fire in Baltimore begun by a poorly discarded lit cigarette ends up igniting the city.
The blaze burned for 31 hours, razing 80 blocks of the downtown area.
It took down 1500 buildings and damaged 1,000 more. Property damage was estimated at nearly $100 million in 1904-dollars.
Fortunately, the fire was contained to the business district, and did not claim any lives or homes.
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1964
Beatlemania arrives in the United States when the fab four land in America for the first time.
Their hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand” had just landed the number one spot on American music charts six days earlier.
More than 3,000 screaming, rioting fans were on hand to greet the singers.
Two days later they would appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. Their first public show was February 11 at the Coliseum in Washington D.C.
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1984
The first astronaut flies untethered in space.
Captain Bruce McCandless maneuvered freely outside the Challenger shuttle. He controlled a rocket pack that he designed himself.
He safely re-entered the shuttle 90 minutes later.
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1990
The Communist Party eases its totalitarian control across the Soviet Union.
At the behest of President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Central Committee reversed policies that make it the only legal party in the country.
Gorbachev would resign by the end of 1991, and the Soviet Union dissolved January 31 that year.
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