Personally, we're surprised anything at all has happened on New Year's Eve. Isn't everyone focused on the evening's activities? Apparently not. Nature, for one, pays no attention. Nor, it seems, do politicians.
1687 - The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.
1695 - The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.
1857 - Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
1862 - U.S. President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
1869 - Henri Matisse was born.
1879 - Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ
1891 - New York's new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.
1897 - Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.
1923 - In London, the BBC first broadcast the chimes of Big Ben.
1937 - Anthony Hopkins was born.
1955 - General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.
1961 - The Beach Boys played their first show as The Beach boys at a Ritchie Valens Memorial Concert.
1971 - The Beatles broke up.
1972 - Joey MacIntyre from New Kids on the Block was born.
1974 - Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
1984 - Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car accident.
1999 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.
1999 - Sarah Knauss died at the age of 119 years. She was the world's oldest person. She was born September 24, 1880.
Info courtesy of on-this-day.com.