Learn what happened in business in today’s past


September 21:

1938: As forecasters predict a few clouds or scattered showers, the Hurricane of 1938 crashes across Long Island and coastal Connecticut with 186-mph winds, killing some 600 people, flattening 275 million trees, and doing $306 million in damage. The stock market is blown over, too; while the Dow closes up one point for the day, at 139.29, the market loses 7% of its value over the next four trading days.

Weatherwise Magazine, November/December, 1999, p. 19; http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastdead.html; http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastcost.html; http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastdeadlya1.html; http://www.accuweather.com/iwxpage/paws/news/991231wacky.htm; http://www.djindexes.com

1931: The day after the Bank of England abandons the gold standard, U.S. stocks tumble. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunges 6.2% to an intraday low of 104.79, and the New York Stock Exchange authorities debate closing the market. But NYSE President Richard Whitney insists that the market should remain open, and the executives compromise by instituting a temporary ban on short-selling. By day's end, stocks have recovered almost all their lost ground, with the Dow closing at 110.83, down less than 1%.

John Brooks, Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street, 1920-1938 (Harper & Row, New York, 1969), p. 132; Peter L. Bernstein, The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2000), p. 315; Barrie A. Wigmore, The Crash and Its Aftermath: A History of Securities Markets in the United States, 1929-1933 (Greenwood Press, Westport, Ct., 1985), p. 301; Phyllis S. Pierce, ed., The Dow Jones Averages 1885-1980 (DowJones Irwin, Homewood, IL, 1982), not paginated.

1893: Charles E. and J. Frank Duryea proudly show off the first gasoline-powered automobile built in the U.S., taking their new Duryea out for a public spin through the streets of Springfield, Mass.


1784: The first daily newspaper in the United States, the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, begins publishing.