The following list of events reportedly all really happened, even before players and game masters threw anything supernatural into the mix…
Before 1500 … Native Americans in the area include the Lenape tribe (later called the “Delaware” by the English), the Mohegan “wolf” peoples of the Montauk and Shinnecock tribes, and the Poospatuck and Unkechaug tribes (on Long Island).
1524 … Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer operating under a French flag, becomes the first European to set eyes on New York and Narragansett bays. He names the site New Angouleme.
1607 … English colonists land in America and found Jamestown in Virginia, about 400 miles south of where New York City will arise.
1609 … Under charter to find an eastern route to China for the Dutch East India Company, English explorer Henry Hudson sails up the river which would later bear his name.
1614 … The Dutch found a fur trading settlement called New Amsterdam at the southern tip of an island at the mouth of the Hudson River (site of modern New York City).
1624 … The Dutch make an expanded, permanent colony in the region, naming it New Netherland.
1626 … According to later popular myth, Dutchman Peter Minuit purchases Manhattan from local native tribes for $24 worth of glass beads.
1639 … Johannes Bronck founds a settlement north of the Harlem River (in modern Bronx).
1643 … Dutchmen found a permanent settlement to the east, naming it Flushings (in modern Queens).
1647 … Peter Stuyvesant is named governor of New Amsterdam.
1650s … A Dutch captain named De Vries purchases land from local natives to found Vriesland, a settlement on an island across from New Amsterdam (on modern Staten Island). De Vries is reknown for having good relations among the local natives.
1651 … In Europe, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes publishes “Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil,” in which he rejects the belief in witches and opposes witch hunts.
1653 … A new and improved wall is built to better defend New Amsterdam (modern Wall Street follows its path).
1660 … Relations between Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam and local native tribes suddenly turn sour. Tensions erupt in violence when natives wipe out Vriesland, probably because the larger village was too well defended to attack.
1664 … Second Anglo-Dutch War: Four English warships help Britain conquer the area. The main village settlement is renamed New York, in honor of King Charles II’s brother, the Duke of York.
1668 … A yellow fever epidemic strikes the city for the first time.
1673 … Dutch forces recapture the settlement and rename it New Orange.
1674 … British forces recapture the settlement and change its name back to New York.
1689 … William Leister leads an anti-Catholic rebellion and seizes control of the island for two years.
1692 … In Massachusetts, the village council of Salem (just north of Boston, 230 miles northeast of New York) begins a series of witchcraft trials which, after two years, will involves the arrest of more than 150 people and the capital executions by hanging of 14 women and five men.
1702 … Yellow fever epidemic kills more than 500 people. Further outbreaks will plague the city for decades.
1734 … John Peter Zenger is jailed for slander in New York, but is acquitted, laying the foundation for freedom of the press.
1754 … King’s College founded in lower Manhattan. (The institution would later be renamed Columbia University and move uptown.)
1742 … First volunteer fire department formed.
1776 … Amid growing colonial discontent, New York declares independence from Great Britain and joins the Federal Union (the American Revolution). A state constitution is adopted the following year.
1776 … British forces seize New York, forcing colonial revolutionaries to evacuate. Gen. George Washington says farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern (54 Pearl St.) before fleeing to Fort Washington.
1777 … A decisive victory over a 9,000-strong British army near the upstate town of Saratoga wins the colonial revolutionaries prestige enough to draw French support.
1778 … Fire near Cruger’s Wharf destroys 64 homes.
1783 … Under the Treaty of Paris, the British leave New York City. Immediately following the end to occupation, a fire sweeps the city and destroys 1,000 homes.
1789 … New York serves as capital of the United States for about a year (or two). President George Washington is inaugurated into office on Wall Street amid much pomp and ceremony.
1790 … The Tammany Society founded at Tammany Hall on East 14th Street. This group of mostly Irish immigrants soon is essentially running city politics until the organization’s collapse in 1932.
1792 … The New York Stock Exchange founded.
1794 … Minor yellow fever epidemic leads to creation of Bellevue Hospital.
1795 … Yellow fever epidemic kills 732.
1796 … The “Coffee House Slip Fire” destroys about 50,000 structures near Murray Wharf.
1798 … The “great epidemic,” a major yellow fever epidemic, kills 2,086 people.
1805 … Yellow fever epidemic frightens as many as 50,000 people to flee the city.
1811 … Close to 100 buildings burn down on Chatham Street. Commissioners’ plan adopted for grid-based streets through Manhattan’s northward expansion.
1812 … American and British forces go to war in Canadian provences for three years, yielding no real change in territory between the rival nations. As a precaution during this time, the defenses of New York City are fortified.
1820s … Overcrowding, poverty and disease are common in the Lower East Side slum known as Five Points (intersection of Worth St., orig. Anthony St., and Baxter St., orig. Orange St.) From here will emerge the violent Irish street gangs known as the Forty Thieves, the Roach Guards, the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits. (These gangs will be disbanded and gone by end of the Civil War in 1865.)
1821 … The only hurricane in recorded history to directly strike the area causes a storm surge of 13 feet in one hour, flooding the city south of Canal Street.
1825 … The Erie Canal is completed, resulting in a surge in transport and trade to the city.
1827 … Interracial abolitionists succeed in ending legal slavery in the city. New York becomes a hub for abolition activism.
1832 … A cholera pandemic kills more than 3,500 people in the city, many in the lower class neighborhoods and in particular around Five Points.
1834 … The city of Brooklyn is incorporated.
1835 … In December, a fire rages for two days and destroys the Financial District; sub-zero temperatures kept water frozen in firefighter’s hoses.
1835 … New York surpasses Philadelphia as the most populated city in North America.
1835 … The New York Herald newspaper begins publishes on-the-scene investigation and crime reports.
1840s … Potato famine in Ireland drives a surge in Irish families immigrating to New York.
1841 … The horrific kidnapping, torture and death of “Beautiful Cigar Girl” Mary Rogers of Nassau Street exposes the general corruption and incompotence of the city’s police force. Author Edgar Allen Poe writes about the murder, but the case is never solved.
1845 … The New York City police department is reformed under a system with 10 times the number of officers across the city, now based out of several new district houses.
1848 … Another cholera epidemic begins.
1849 … Cholera epidemic continues, ends up causing 5,071 deaths in the city.
1850s … German immigration to New York City and upstate areas reaches its highest rate.
1853 … The World’s Fair is hosted at the Crystal Palace.
1854 … Cholera epidemic kills 2,509.
1857 … “Old merchant aristocracy” wins backing to create Central Park.
1861 … Civil war is declared between the Union north and the Confederate south.
1863 … President Lincoln’s war conscription laws prompt the Draft Riots, which overwhelm police and mark the worst public unrest in the city’s history. More than 1,000 people are killed, 8,000 are injured, and 300 buildings destroyed. Many African Americans flee the city.
1865 … The U.S. Civil War ends. Many freed slaves settle in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
1866 … Another cholera epidemic kills “only” 1,137, its spread limited by new health and sanitation laws.
1868 … Elevated trains begin operation in Lower Manhattan.
1870 … The Orange Riots break out between Irish Catholics and protestants opposed over parades organized to commemorate a religious battles won back in 1690.
1871 … Boiler explosion aboard the Westfield II Staten Island Ferry kills 125 among hundreds of Manhattanites making a weekend trip to the beaches.
1874 … Police crush a demonstration involving thousands of unemployed workers during the Tompkins Square Park Riot, located in the East Village.
1876 … A stage scenery fire envelopes the Brooklyn Theatre during a performance of “The Two Orphans” and kills at least 276 people, primarily patrons in the upper gallery.
1880s … Large numbers of Eastern Europeans and Jews immigrate and settle in New York City.
1880 … The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens.
1882 … A train wreck occurs just south of Spuyten Duyvil Creek when a local train from Tarrytown crashes into the tail end of an express from Albany which had stopped on the tracks in order to make an emergency repair. At least 10 persons were killed, including a state senator.
1883 … A rumor that the Brooklyn Bridge is going to collapse causes a stampede that kills 12.
1886 … Two years after being presented by the French, the Statue of Liberty is completed bearing the invocation “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
1888 … The “White Hurricane” (the Great Blizzard of ’88) paralyzes the city as temperatures fall as much as 60 degrees. About 21 inches of snow fall while winds whip it into drifts 20 feet deep.
1892 … The Ellis Island Immigrant Station opens for the inspection of immmigrants entering the United States.
1896 … A 9-day-long heat wave with temperature above 90 degrees, stagnant air and oppressive humidity cause deaths in crowded tenements in areas such as the Lower East Side.
1898 … New York legally reformed to include all five boroughs into one city (Brooklyn had been independent).
1899 … Henry Bliss becomes the first person killed in an automobile accident in the United States when he steps off a streetcar at 74th St. and Central Park West and is struck by a taxicab.
1900s … Italian immigrants surge into New York City.
1904 … Longacre Square is renamed Times Square.
1904 … The steamship General Slocum catches fire in the East River, killing 1,021 people on board. The event ends the existence of the German neighborhood Little Germany.
1904 … The underground subway train system opens.
1906 … Famed architect Stanford White is shot and killed by Pittsburgh coal and railroad baron scion Harry K. Thaw at what was then Madison Square Gardens. The murder would soon be dubbed “the Crime of the Century” as the young millionaire claimed insanity.
1908 … A train collision in the original Park Avenue tunnel kills 17 and injures 38.
1908 … The first Manhattan-Brooklyn subway link is opened.
1910 … Reformist Mayor William Jay Gaynor is shot in the throat in Hoboken, New Jersey by former city employee James Gallagher. He eventually dies in September 1913 from effects of the wound.
1911 … The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (Greene Street and Washington Place, just east of Washington Square) kills 146 garment workers. The tragedy gives rise to the formation of labor unions and factory safety standards nationwide.
1913 … The Armory Show, an international art exposition, showcases modern art.
1915 … The Great War (WWI) in Europe begins between the Entente Powers (France, Russia, Great Britain, Italy) and the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Turkish Ottoman Empire).
1916 … Black Tom Explosion set off by German saboteurs at a munitions arsenal on a small island in New York Harbor kills seven in Jersey City and causes damage as far as the Brooklyn waterfront and even Times Square.
1916 … Harlem Renaissance flourishes as the city becomes the largest destination in North America for the urban African diaspora.
1916 … Nathan Handwerker sets up a hot-dog stand at Coney Island.
1917 … United States enters the Great War on behalf of the Entente Powers, which looses the support of Russia after the Bolshevik revolution that same year.
1918 … Armistice signed in Europe, ending the Great War.
1918 … The Great Influenza Pandemic rages across the country and worldwide. In one particularly virulent October day, 851 people died in New York City alone.
1920 … Following the Volstead Act and Eighteenth Amendment, nationwide prohibition on the sale of alcohol begins. New York had been the largest opponent of this measure.
1920 … The Wall Street bombing kills 38 at “the precise center, geographical as well as metaphorical, of financial America and even of the financial world.” Anarchists were suspected (Sacco and Vanzetti had been indicted just days before) but no one was ever charged with the crime.
1924 … First Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is held.
1924 … Struggling author H.P. Lovecraft moves to New York and, during the next three years, writes several detailed horror stories, including one about a Persian demon named Lilith whose cult offers her children as living sacrifices beneath the waterfront slums of Brooklyn.
1927 … The Holland Tunnel opens.
1927 … Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs for the Yankees.
1928 … A subway crash caused by a defective switch below Times Square kills 16 and injures 150.
1928 … The first animated electric sign lights up in Times Square.
1929 … “Black Tuesday” strikes on Oct. 29, as the stock market crash damages industrial economies all around the world. Personal incomes, tax revenues, and profits plummet; crop prices fall by 40 to 60 percent. The “Great Depression” will last for another decade, undermine democracies and help tyrants come to power on promises to “fix” things.
1931 … The Empire State Building is completed.
1933 … Various federal acts repeal national alcohol laws and prohibition ends.
1933 … In the Midwest portion of the United States, the “Dust Bowl” begins with an annual series of dust storms ravaging the ecology, causing crop failure and drought. The storms last until 1939.
1934 … Knickerbocker Village opens as the first public housing project.
1935 … The arrest of a shoplifter inflames racial tensions in Harlem and escalates to rioting and looting, with three killed, 125 injured and 100 arrested.
1937 … Heavy rains cause a tenement in New Brighton, Staten Island, to collapse, killing 19.
1938 … The New England Hurricane of 1938 strikes Long Island and continues into New England, killing 564. In New York City, ten people are killed and power is lost across upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
1939 … Hitler’s Germany invades Poland, triggering war with Great Britain and France. The United States officially declares itself neutral in the matter, although President Roosevelt secretly begins supplying British forces without Congress noticing. Many of New York’s Germans publicly side with their native land.
1939 … New York hosts its second Worlds Fair.
1939 … LaGuardia Airport open.
1939 … Having fled the anti-Semitic fascist regime of Benito Mussolini a year earlier, Italian scientist Enrico Fermi continues his work at Columbia University and successfully splits the atom.
1939 … Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard prepares, and German physicist Albert Einstein signs, a letter warning President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the Nazis were probably planning to build an atomic bomb.
1940 … “Axis” powers officially unite (Germany, Italy, Japan). Public opinion in the United States continues to support neutrality. Mandatory draft registration begins in the United States.
1940 … George Metesky plants the first bomb of his 16 years as “The Mad Bomber.”
1941 … Germany invades the Soviet Union. U.S. policy begins to shift against the Axis; German and Italian assets are frozen, consulates ordered closed. A German U-boat fires on a couple U.S. ships. In December, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ends all doubt and the U.S. enters the war in full.
1941 … U.S. Army Corp of Engineers North Atlantic Division, based out of the 18th floor of 270 Broadway, begins a secret weapon program codenamed “The Manhattan Project,” headed by American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Laboratory work is performed at Columbia University, with field work done at sites across the United States.
1942 … Presidential executive order 9066 allows German and Italians in New York to become imprisoned, their property seized. On the west coast, thousands of Japanese end up in internment camps for the duration of the war. In Europe, the Axis advance begins to slow.
1943 … A race riot erupts in Harlem after an African-American soldier is shot by the police and rumored to be killed. The incident touches off a simmering brew of racial tension, unemployment, and high prices to a day of rioting and looting. Several looters are shot dead,with blood everywhere, and about 500 persons are injured and another 500 arrested.
1943 … Axis forces around the world begin to suffer defeats in battle.
1943 … Rodgers and Hammerstein open their first Broadway musical, “Oklahoma.”
1944 … The Soviets box in Germany and Allied forces liberate France. U.S. forces firebomb Tokyo.
1945 … American scientists and military officials perform the Trinity Site test, exploding the first atomic bomb in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Witnessing the event, chief scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer is quoted to simply say aloud “It worked,” but he would later say he was thinking of his translation from of a passage from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one… Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
1945 … A B-25 Mitchell bomber accidentally crashes into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, killing 13 people.
1945 … German forces crushed. Berlin is invaded by Soviets and, essentially, raped and pillaged. Two U.S. nuclear bomb attacks force Japan to surrender. WWII ends.
1946 … Fire destroys the St. George terminal of the Staten Island Ferry, killing three and injuring 280.
1946 … Returning war veterans surge the population of New York, especially in Queens. The “baby boom” begins. A large number of Puerto Ricans immigrate into the city.
1947 … The Dodgers hire Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in major league baseball.
1948 … Ed Sullivan hosts his first show.
1948 … New York becomes the most populated city in the world, claiming the title over London.
1949 … Holland Tunnel fire caused by exploding truck carrying eighty 55-gallon drums of carbon disulfide seriously damages the tunnel’s infrastructure and injures 66, with 27 hospitalized, mostly from smoke inhalation.
1952 … United Nations complex built.
1952 … The Franklin National Bank issues the first credit card.
1953 … The subway token is introduced.
1957 … Northeast Airlines Flight 823 crashes on Rikers Island on takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, killing 21 of the 101 on board.
1960 … Mid-air collision between TWA Flight 266 (inbound to Idlewild Airport, now JFK) and United Airlines Flight 826 (inbound to LaGuardia Airport) over Miller Field, Staten Island. The TWA aircraft crashed at the site, killing all aboard, while the United aircraft continued flying for about eight miles until it crashed in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, narrowly missing a school. All 134 aboard the aircraft died, along with six persons on the ground in Brooklyn.
1960s … Economic problems fuel a rise in poverty and crime through New York. Dominicans, Jamaicans and Haitians immigrate into the city in large numbers.
1962 … Eastern Air Lines Flight 512 crashes when trying to make a go-round after failing to land at Idlewild Airport in the fog. 25 of the 51 on board are killed.
1963 … The “Career Girl Murders” case: Emily Hoffert and Janet Wylie, two young professionals, are murdered in their Upper East Side apartment by an intruder. Richard Robles, a young white man, was ultimately apprehended in 1965 after investigators erroneously focused on a black man, George Whitmore, who was convicted of the crime. Whitmore was released after his innocence was established, while Robles, now 64, remains in prison.
1963 … Three brush fires on Staten Island destroy 100 homes.
1964 … Kitty Genovese is stabbed 82 times in Kew Gardens, Queens, by Winston Moseley. The crime is witnessed by numerous people, none of whom aid Genovese or call for help. The crime is noted by psychology textbooks in later years for its demonstration of the bystander effect, although an article published in the New York Times in February 2004 indicated that many of the popular conceptions of the crime were instead misconceptions.
1964 … Riots break out in Harlem in protest over the killing of a 15-year old by a white NYPD officer. One person is killed and 100 are injured in the violence.
1964 … New York’s third World’s Fair open.
1964 … The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island to Brooklyn.
1965 … Black nationalist leader Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom by three members of the Nation of Islam.
1965 … New York City is affected as part of the Northeast Blackout of 1965.
1966 … A fire across 23rd St. from Madison Square kills 12 members of the New York City Fire Department when a floor collapses beneath them.
1966 … Construction of the World Trade Center begins.
1967 … James “Groovy” Hutchinson, 21, an East Village hippie/stoner, and Linda Fitzpatrick, 18, a newly-converted flower child from a wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut family, are found bludgeoned to death at 169 Avenue B, an incident dubbed “The Groovy Murders” by the press. Two drifters later plead guilty to the murders.
1968 … Bulgarian immigrant and Neo-Nazi Angel Angelof opens fire from a lavatory roof in Central Park, killing a 24-year old woman and an 80-year old man before being gunned down by the police.
1968 … The “Savage Seven” street gang gains citywide attention.
1969 … A questionable police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar, is resisted by the patrons and leads to a riot. The event helps inspire the founding of the modern gay rights movement.
1970 … North tower of the World Trade Center opens.
1970 … The first New York Marathon is run around Central Park.
1970 … Three members of the domestic terrorist group the Weathermen are killed when a bomb they were preparing accidentally explodes in the basement of a townhouse on 18 West 11th Street.
1970s … The Black Spades collection of African-American street gangs expands and grows in power. “Pimps, hookers, drug dealers own the night, and the police are powerless to stop it.”
1971 … Two NYPD officers, Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini,are gunned down in ambush by members of the Black Liberation Army in Harlem. The gunmen, Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom, still in prison as of 2007, were rearrested in jail in connection with the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer.
1972 … John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Natuarale hold up a Brooklyn bank for 14-hours, in a bid to get cash to pay for Wojtowicz’ gay lover’s sex change operation. The scheme fails when the cops arrive, leading to a tense 14-hour standoff. Natuarale is killed by the police at JFK Airport. (The incident served as the basis for the 1975 film “Dog Day Afternoon.”)
1972 … Mob Boss Joey Gallo is gunned down at Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy. The incident serves as the inspiration for the Bob Dylan’s epic “Joey” recorded in 1975.
1972 … South tower of the World Trade Center opens.
1973 … A group of 40 workers are killed in an explosion while cleaning an empty LNG tank in Bloomfield, Staten Island.
1975 … A bomb explodes in the baggage claim area of the TWA terminal at LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 and injuring 74. The perpetrators were never identified.
1975 … A major fire strikes the World Trade Center.
1975 … Eastern Air Lines Flight 66 from New Orleans strikes the runway lights at Kennedy airport, probably due to wind shear; 113 of the 124 people on board are killed.
1975 … Fraunces Tavern, a historical site in lower Manhattan, is bombed by the FALN killing four people and wounding more than 50.
1976 … David Berkowitz, aka the “Son of Sam,” kills one person and seriously wounds another in the first of a series of attacks that terrorized the city for the next year.
1976 … NYPD officer Robert Torsney fatally shoots unarmed 15-year old Randolph Evans in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Torsney is found not guilty by reason of insanity the following year and is released from a mental hospital in 1979.
1977 … “Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.” During Game 2 of the 1977 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, a fire rages out of control at an abandoned elementary school near Yankee Stadium. The images and a dramatic statement on national television by sportscaster Howard Cosell is widely seen as the symbolic nadir of a dark period in city history.
1977 … A New York Airways helicopter idling at the helipad of the PanAm Building (now MetLife building) topples over and its rotor blade sheared off. The blade kills four people on the roof and then falls over the edge, down 59 stories and a block over to Madison Avenue where it kills a pedestrian.
1977 … New York City again loses power in the blackout of 1977. Unlike the previous blackout 12 years earlier, this blackout is followed by widespread rioting and looting.
1977 … Studio 54 opens at 254 West 54th St., becoming the city’s hedonistic hub for cocaine use, disco music, and public sex.
1978 … Sid Vicious allegedly stabs his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death in their room in the Chelsea Hotel.
1979 … Etan Patz, age 6, vanishes after leaving his SoHo apartment to walk to his school bus alone. Despite a massive search by the NYPD the boy is never found, and was declared legally dead in 2001.
1980 … A wild “The End of Modern-Day Gomorrah” party is held to close Studio 54 after its owners are arrested for tax evasion. Although the club reopened the following year, its original flair for hedonism was never the same.
1980 … Ex-Beatle John Lennon is murdered in front of his home in The Dakota on Central Park West.
1980 … Ex-Congressman Allard Lowenstein is assassinated in his law offices at Rockefeller Center by Dennis Sweeney, a deranged ex-associate.
1980s … The Bloods and Crips gangs, originally from Los Angeles, begin building power bases in New York. The local Latin Kings and the Netas both clash and ally with the larger, more organized crimelords.
1982 … Willie Turks, an African-American 34-year old MTA worker, is set upon and killed by a white mob in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. Gino Bova, 18, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in 1983.
1984 … 66-year old Eleanor Bumpurs is shot and killed by police as they tried to evict her from her Bronx apartment. Bumpurs, who was mentally ill, was wielding a knife and had slashed one of the officers. The shooting provoked heated debate about police racism and brutality.
1984 … Bernhard Goetz shoots four men on a subway who tried to rob him, generating weeks of headlines and many discussions about crime and vigilantism in the media.
1984 … Crack epidemic sweeps the city, growing to its height in 1990.
1985 … Mob boss Paul Castellano is shot dead in a gangland execution on E. 46th Street in Manhattan.
1986 … 20-year old Larry Davis (criminal) opens fire on NYPD officers attempting to arrest him in sister’s apartment in the Bronx. Six officers were wounded, and Davis eluded capture for the next 17 days, during which time he became something of a folk hero in the neighborhood.
1986 … A deranged man, Juan Gonzalez, wielding a machete kills 2 and wounds 9 on the Staten Island Ferry. In 2000 Gonzalez was granted unsupervised leave from his residence at the Bronx Psychiatric Hospital.
1986 … A white mob in Howard Beach, Queens, attacks three African-American men whose car had broken down in the largely white neighborhood. One of the men, Michael Griffith is chased onto Shore Parkway where is he hit and killed by a passing car. The killing prompted several tempestuous marches through the neighborhood led by Al Sharpton.
1986 … The preppie murder: Jennifer Levin an 18-year old student is murdered by Robert Chambers in Central Park after the two had left a bar to have sex in the park. The case was sensationalized in the press and raised issues over victims’ rights, as Chambers’ attorney attempted to smear Levin’s reputation to win his client’s freedom.
1987 … 11-year old Juan Perez is mauled and killed by two polar bears after he and his friends sneak into their enclosure at the Prospect Park Zoo that night.
1987 … 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger, a girl afflicted with Down Syndrome, is abducted and murdered in Staten Island by child sex offender and suspected mass murderer Andre Rand.
1987 … Joel Steinberg and his lover Hedda Nussbaum are arrested for the beating and neglect of their 6-year old adopted daughter Lisa Steinberg who died two days later from her injuries. The case provoked outrage that did not subside when Steinberg was released from prison in 2004 after serving 15 years.
1988 … A rally of “drug pushers, homeless people and young people known as ’skinheads'” in Tompkins Square Park clashes violently with police, who were blamed for inciting the mob into fighting through abusive tactics.
1989 … Trisha Meili (aka the “Central Park Jogger”) is violently beaten and repeatedly raped while jogging in Central Park. The crime is later attributed to a group of young men who were practicing an activity they called “wilding.” However, DNA evidence later proved the originally charged teens innocent; a convicted serial rapist confessed to the crime.
1989 … Yusuf Hawkins, an African-American 16-year old student, is set upon and murdered by a white mob in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn in one of the city’s worst-ever racial attacks.
1990 … 12-year old Haitian immigrant David Opont is mugged and set on fire by a 14-year old assailant, who remained anonymous because he was tried as a minor. The attack created an outpouring of support throughout the city for Opont who eventually recovered from his burns.
1990 … Arson at the Happyland Social Club at 1959 Southern Boulevard in the East Tremont section of the Bronx kills 87 people unable to escape the packed dance club.
1990 … Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, is assassinated at the Marriott East Side Hotel at 48th Street and Lexington Avenue by El Sayyid Nosair.
1990 … The first of the copycat Zodiac Killer Heriberto Seda’s eight shooting victims is wounded in an attack in Brooklyn. Between 1990 and 1993, Seda will wound 5 and kill 3 in his serial attacks. He is captured in 1996 and convicted in 1998.
1990 … Utah tourist Brian Watkins is stabbed to death at the Seventh Avenue (IND station) by a gang of youths. Watkins was visiting New York with his family to attend the US Open Tennis tournament in Queens, when he was killed defending his family from a gang of muggers. The killing marked a low point in the record murder year of 1990 and led to an increased police presence in New York.
1991 … A 4 train crashes just north of 14th Street–Union Square, killing 5 people. Motorman Robert Ray, who was intoxicated, fell asleep at the controls and was convicted of manslaughter in 1992.
1991 … A Jewish automobile driver accidentally kills a 7-year-old African-American boy, thereby touching off the Crown Heights riots, during which an Australian Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum, was fatally stabbed by Lemrick Nelson.
1992 … A noreaster strikes the Mid-Atlantic coast. The storm surge causes extensive flooding along the city’s shoreline.
1992 … Patrick Daly, Princial of P.S. 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is killed in the crossfire of a drug-related shooting while looking for a pupil who had left his school. The school was later renamed the Patrick Daly school after the beloved principal.
1993 … A terrorist bombing damages the parking structure under the World Trade Center north tower.
1993 … Colin Ferguson shoots 25 passengers, killing six, on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train out of Penn Station.
1993 … The Golden Venture, a freighter carrying 286 illegal immigrants from China, runs aground a quarter-mile off the coast of Rockaway, Queens, killing 10 passengers.
1994 … Anthony Baez, a 29-year old Bronx man, dies after being placed in an illegal chokehold by NYPD officer Francis X. Livoti. Livoti is sentenced to 7 and a half years in 1998 for violating Baez’ civil rights.
1994 … Rashid Baz, a Lebanese-born Arab immigrant, opens fire on a van carrying members of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect of Jews driving on the Brooklyn Bridge. A 16-year old student, Ari Halberstam ,later dies of his wounds. Baz was apparently acting out of revenge for the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron, West Bank.
1994 … Rikers Island becomes the de facto hub for gang coordination, despite the members imprisonment.
1994 … Former prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani becomes mayor and initatives several police and public reforms aimed at reducing crime.
1995 … A long racial dispute in Harlem over the eviction of an African-American record store-owner by a Jewish proprieter ends in murder and arson. 51-year old Roland Smith, Jr., angry over the proposed eviction, set fire to Freddie’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street and opened fire on the store’s employees, killing 7 and wounding four. Smith also perished in the blaze.
1996 … John Royster, a 22-year old drifter, brutally beats a 32-year female piano teacher in Central Park, the first in a series of attacks over a period of eight days. Royster would go on to brutally beat another woman in Manhattan, rape a woman in Yonkers and beat a victim Evelyn Alvarez to death on Park Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In 1998 Royster was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
1996 … Second Avenue Deli owner Abe Lebewohl is shot and killed during a robbery. The murder of this popular deli owner and East Village fixture remains unsolved.
1996 … TWA Flight 800 departs Kennedy airport and crashes in the Atlantic Ocean south of Long Island, killing all 230 people on board.
1997 … A Manhattan couple, Camden Sylvia, 36, and Michael Sullivan, 54, disappear from their loft at 76 Pearl Street in Manhattan after arguing with their landlord over a lack of heat in their apartment. The landlord, Robert Rodriguez, was never implicated in any crime, and as of 2007 the couple remain missing.
1997 … Abner Louima is beaten and sodomized with a plunger at the 70th precinct house in Brooklyn by several NYPD officers led by Justin Volpe.
1997 … Abu Ali Kamal, a 69-year old Palestinian immigrant, opens fire on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, killing one and wounding six before taking his own life.
1997 … Jonathan Levin, a Bronx teacher and son of former Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin, is robbed and murdered by his former student Corey Arthur.
1999 … 32-year old Kendra Webdale is killed after being pushed in front of an oncoming subway car at the 23rd Street (BMT Broadway Line) station by Andrew Goldstein, a 29-year old schizophrenic. The case ultimately led to the passage of Kendra’s Law.
1999 … Amy Watkins a 26-year old social worker from Kansas who worked with battered women in the Bronx, is stabbed to death in a botched robbery near her home in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. In 2001, her assailant, David Jamison was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
1999 … EgyptAir Flight 990 departs Kennedy airport and crashes off of the coast of Nantucket.
1999 … Unarmed African immigrant Amadou Bailo Diallo is shot and killed by four New York City police officers, sparking massive protests against police brutality and racial profiling.
2000 … Five employees of a Flushing, Queens, Wendy’s restaurant are killed and two are seriously wounded during a robbery that netted the killers $2,400. The incident was dubbed the Wendy’s Massacre due to the brutal nature of the killings.
2001 … American Airlines Flight 587 crashes into the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens shortly after takeoff from Kennedy airport, killing all 265 on board and five persons on the ground.
2001 … Sept. 11 terrorist attacks destroy the World Trade Center towers.
2001 … Three people are killed and two are wounded during a robbery in the apartment of actress Jennifer Stahl above the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan. The victims were bound and shot point-blank in the head. The man convicted of the crime, Sean Salley, was a former roadie for George Clinton and a struggling rapper. He was later apprehended in Florida.
2003 … New York loses power in a blackout that affects eight states as well as parts of Canada.
2003 … Othniel Askew shoots to death political rival City Councilmember James E. Davis in the City Hall chambers of the New York City Council.
2003 … Staten Island Ferry crash: The Staten Island Ferry boat Andrew J. Barberi collides with a pier at the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, killing ten people and injuring 43 others.
2005 … Nicole duFresne, an aspiring actress, is shot dead in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan after being accosted by a gang of youths.
2005 … Peter Braunstein sexually assaults a co-worker while posing as a fireman, later leading officials on a multi-state manhunt.
2006 … 66-year old Romanian immigrant Dr. Nicholas Bartha commits suicide by blowing up his townhouse at 34 East 62nd Street in Manhattan while in the basement of the building. Bartha chose to demolish his home rather than relinquish it to his ex-wife as ordered by the courts.
2006 … A general aviation aircraft owned by New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashes into the 31st floor of the Belaire Apartments on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Lidle, 34, is killed in the crash along with his flight instructor.
2006 … Criminology graduate student Imette St. Guillen is brutally tortured, raped, and killed in New York City after being abducted outside the Falls bar in the SoHo section of Manhattan. Bouncer Darryl Littlejohn is arrested in connection with the crime.
2006 … Four NYPD officers fire a combined 50 shots at a group of unarmed men in Jamaica, Queens wounding two and killing 23-year old Sean Bell. The case sparks controversy over police brutality and racial profiling.
2006 … Jeff Gross, founder of the Staten Island commune Ganas is shot and wounded by former commune member Rebekah Johnson. Johnson was captured in Philadelphia on June 18, 2007 after being featured on America’s Most Wanted.
2006 … Jennifer Moore, an 18-year old student from New Jersey, is abducted and killed after a night of drinking at a Chelsea bar. Her body is found outside a Weehawken motel. 35-year old Draymond Coleman is arrested in connection with the crime.
2006 … Matthew Colletta, a 34-year old man suffering from mental illness, goes on a shooting spree in Queens. One man is killed and five are wounded before Colletta is apprehended by the NYPD in Queens early the next morning.
2006 … Michael Sandy, a 29-year old man is hit by a car on the Belt Parkway after being beaten by a group of white attackers. Sandy died of his injuries on October 13, 2006. The attack, which is being investigated as a hate crime hearkened back to the killing of Michael Griffith in 1986.
2006 … Nixzmary Brown is allegedly abused to death by her stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, in their Brooklyn apartment.
2007 … 32-year-old David Garvin goes on a shooting rampage in Greenwich Village, killing a pizzeria employee at DeMarco’s, a restaurant owned and operated by the family of famed pizza maker Dominick DeMarco of DiFara’s Pizzeria. In addition Garvin shoots and kills two auxiliary police officers before NYPD officers fatally shoot him.
2007 … A fire started by a space heater claims the lives of 10 people, nine of them children, in the Bronx neighborhood of High-Bridge. The home housed 22 immigrants from the African nation of Mali.
2007 … A steam pipe explosion kills one and wounds twenty others near the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 41st street in Manhattan.
2007 … Rapper Stack Bundles is fatally shot and robbed in the lobby of his apartment building.