40 YEARS AGO The Final Frontier
Captain Kirk and the intrepid crew of the USS Enterprise set out to "boldly go where no man has gone before" when "Star Trek" premières September 8, 1966. Poor ratings get the spacey TV series canceled after three seasons, but fervent fans—known as Trekkies—and their dollars propel it to cult status through syndication, four spinoffs and ten movies.
210 YEARS AGO: Farewell
Seven years after he was sworn into office, George Washington announces his retirement from the presidency, September 19, 1796. "Every day the encreasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is necessary to me as it will be welcome." Washington dies three years later, at 67, of a throat infection.
25 YEARS AGO: Solemn Oath
September 25, 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first female justice on the Supreme Court. O'Connor's court-swinging opinions on such controversial issues as abortion and the death penalty prompt Forbes magazine in 2004 to call her the sixth most powerful woman in the world. She retires January 31, 2006.
100 YEARS AGO: Typhoon Terror
There is no warning on September 18, 1906, when a 77-mph typhoon blows into Hong Kong's busy harbor. Two hours later, 10,000 people are dead, ocean liners perch in the city's streets, and 600 junks—the entire fishing fleet—lie on the harbor bottom. Today a radioed number system warns of typhoons within 500 miles of the city.
340 YEARS AGO: Fire! Fire! Fire!
On September 2, 1666, London baker Thomas Farrinor fails to fully smother the embers in his oven before going to bed. Soon his house, and much of the city, is engulfed in flames. It is chaos, reports the London Gazette, with people "in night dresses rushing wildly about the streets crying piteously & praying to God." Farrinor's oversight is disastrous: four-fifths of the city, including St. Paul's Cathedral, is toast.