Not Your Century

On hiatus as of March 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis. Get unlimited access to the Chronicle. | A daily celebration of the news — and the news media — of years gone by. King Kaufman takes you on a quick tour of the Bay Area and the world as it used to be, which often colors the world of your century.

Best of NYC: First!
A collection of episodes about firsts and beginnings to celebrate the start of the holiday season: The first cable car run in San Francisco, the first federal prisoners to arrive at Alcatraz, and the founding of the Black Panthers.
17 min
1992: Revenge of the Nerds
Booming Santa Clara County is home to the largest concentration of computer engineers in the world, and they're almost all men. Mental health experts say they're paying a price for the boom. Lost episode from Aug. 30.
5 min
1983: Hillside Strangler Guilty
The Hillside Strangler terrorized Los Angeles for months in 1977 and '78. It turns out there were two stranglers, Kenneth Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono, whose trial was the longest in U.S. history to that point. Lost episode from Oct. 31.
6 min
1963: JFK Assassinated
Like every city, town, village and hamlet in America, San Francisco grinds to a halt as news spreads that President John F. Kennedy has been shot and killed in Dallas.
4 min
1985: A Spy For Israel Arrested
In a rare case of espionage involving an ally, Jonathan Pollard, a Navy intelligence analyst, is busted for selling U.S. secrets to Israel. He says he did it to right a wrong. Prosecutors say he did it for money.
5 min
1945: Nuremberg Trials Begin
Not long ago, they'd been powerful men in a country that had conquered much of Europe. Now these 21 former Nazi leaders listen meekly as they're charged with crimes against humanity.
5 min
1973: Sweeping Powers for Nixon
With the Watergate scandal in full swing, the Democratically controlled Senate votes to give Republican President Richard Nixon broad authority to respond to the energy crisis stemming from the OPEC oil embargo.
5 min
1978: The Jonestown Massacre
Rep. Leo Ryan, D-San Mateo, and four others are killed and his legal aide, Jackie Speier, is among those injured in a shooting at an airstrip in Guyana, a prelude to more than 900 members of the formerly San Francisco-based People's Temple dying in the jungle.
11 min
Bay Area 2020, Part 2
In the second of two parts, we look at the predictions and scenarios in the San Francisco Chronicle's 1999 "guide" to life in the Bay Area in 2020, including one very big thing that, you won't be surprised to hear, they didn't mention.
5 min
Bay Area 2020, Part 1
In 1999, the San Francisco Chronicle published a special section, a guide to life in the Bay Area in the unimaginably distant year of 2020. How'd the predictions do? First of two parts.
5 min
1953: Robin Hood Is a Commie!
Steal from the rich and give to the poor? That sounds like communism! And an Indiana official says the Prince of Thieves should be banned from textbooks. He isn't, but the controversy spawns the Green Feather Movement, an important moment in college campus activism.
5 min
1936: Bay Bridge Opens
Emperor Norton ordered a bridge to be built between San Francisco and Oakland via Yerba Buena Island in 1872. Now, more than a half-century later, that bridge opens in the most appropriate way: With a massive traffic jam.
5 min
1918 World War I Ends
The world erupts in celebration as Germany signs the Armistice, ending the fighting in the War to End All Wars. Hundreds of thousands pour into the streets all over the Bay Area, delirious with joy.
5 min
1923: The Beer Hall Putsch
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and 600 of his followers take over a beer hall where Bavaria's military leader is speaking. The leader gives way, but the coup fizzles, and Hitler decides on a new strategy.
5 min
1917: The Bolshevik Revolution
The Bolsheviks storm the Winter Palace and overthrow the Provisional Government in the second Russian Revolution of the year. A bloody civil war remained to be fought before the Soviet Union was established.
5 min
1968: Strike at San Francisco State
The Black Students Union and the Third World Liberation Front call a student strike to protest the lack of representation for people of color in the curriculum, faculty and administration. The strike will last into March and have a profound impact on American higher education.
4 min
1967: Ronald Reagan's "Gay Ring"
Washington columnist Drew Pearson accuses California's conservative governor of doing nothing about a gay sex scandal in his administration. Reagan denies it. But you'll never guess where the columnist got his information.
5 min
1979: Iranians Storm U.S. Embassy
It's the start of the Iran Hostage Crisis, a 444-day episode that would convulse American politics and culture: Students loyal to revolutionary Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take more than 60 hostages.
5 min
1950: Assassins Target Truman
A pair of well-dressed men walk up to Blair House — the temporary presidential residence — and open fire. They're Puerto Rican nationalists, trying to assassinate President Harry Truman, who pokes his head out the window to check on the commotion.
5 min
1926: Death Shackles Houdini
The King of Magicians dies on Halloween. Of course he does. Joe Posnanski, author of the new biography "The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini," talks about what made Houdini great — which also might be what killed him.
10 min
1938: The Martians Are Coming!
Orson Welles' radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" causes nationwide panic about a Martian invasion. At least, that's the legend. Really, hardly anyone heard the show, and the few people who panicked thought it was the Germans who were coming.
6 min
1929: Black Tuesday
Here comes the Great Depression. The stock market crash wasn't a one-day event, but the one day known as Black Tuesday shattered records, and it was a wild day on the Wall Street of the West, Montgomery Street in San Francisco.
4 min
1995: Mayor Jordan Takes a Shower
A week and a half before Election Day, Frank Jordan, running for re-election, thinks it'll be fun to go along with a morning radio show stunt. One result is a photo of him and two DJs naked in his shower. Another is a very happy opponent, Willie Brown.
5 min
1929: Secretary Fall Is Convicted
Albert B. Fall, secretary of the Interior under President Warren G. Harding, is found guilty of taking a bribe in the Teapot Dome scandal. He's the first Cabinet member ever convicted of a felony.
4 min
1906: San Francisco City Hall Scandal
The grand jury is in session. The boodlers who may end up in the dock? — that's how the Chronicle put it. Mayor Eugene "Handsome Gene" Schmitz and Abe Ruef, the Boss Tweed of San Francisco, the head of the city's political machine.
5 min