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.

1995: Selena's Killer Convicted
Yolanda Saldivar said she meant to kill herself, not Selena Quintanilla, when they met in a motel room to hash out charges that Saldivar was embezzling money from "the queen of Tejano music." A jury didn't believe her.
6 min
1975: "I Am a Homosexual"
With those words, on the cover of Time magazine, Air Force Technical Sgt. Leonard Matlovich becomes the face of the gay rights movement in America.
5 min
1989: A Miracle in the Rubble
After four of the saddest days in Bay Area history, at last there's a reason for hope and joy: Longshoreman Buck Helm has been found alive in the rubble of the Cypress Structure.
5 min
1989: Loma Prieta Earthquake, Part 2
San Francisco Chronicle reporters talk about where they were when the earth shook on Oct. 17, 1989, and what they did once it stopped. Memories from Kevin Fagan, Nanette Asimov, John Wildermuth, Bruce Jenkins and Sam Whiting.
18 min
1989: Loma Prieta Earthquake, Part 1
A magnitude 6.9 earthquake kills more than 60 people, injures hundreds, damages the Bay Bridge and other roadways and buildings, and interrupts the Giants vs. A's World Series. Citizens and first responders remember where they were.
21 min
1995: The Million Man March
They came to Washington in fleets of buses, caravans of cars, and scores of redeye flights. The march may or may not have attracted a million men — the crowd size was hotly disputed in the aftermath — but it was massive.
5 min
1966: Black Panthers Founded
Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, a pair of Oakland political activists, form an organization to protect the African American community from police violence. They call it the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.
5 min
1919: Marcus Garvey Shot
A man bursts into the offices of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and shoots its founder, who survives. Garvey is best remembered for his "back to Africa" sentiments, but his views on black self-sufficiency had a huge influence on the Civil Rights Movement.
5 min
1906: San Francisco Segregates Japanese Kids
A San Francisco Board of Education order forces all students of Japanese heritage to attend one school. It's a win for anti-Japanese immigration forces, but it angers President Theodore Roosevelt and causes an international incident.
5 min
1913: Panama Canal Opens
President Woodrow Wilson presses a telegraph key in Washington and 4,000 miles to the south, eight tons of dynamite blow away the last barrier between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at the Panama Canal. First through? A pair of Americans in a rowboat.
4 min
1967: Che Guevara Killed
The Argentine doctor turned Cuban revolutionary icon had a grandmother born in San Francisco and "the blood of the Irish rebels in him." He's executed on the battlefield in Bolivia, where he was leading forces in a rebellion against the CIA-backed government.
5 min
1933: Coit Tower Dedicated
The old hearts of retired San Francisco volunteer firemen fluttered under their red shirts as they listened to speeches about Lillie Hitchcock Coit, their mascot and admirer, who left a third of her estate to further "the beauty of the city which I have always loved."
5 min
1960: JFK, Nixon Go Toe-to-Toe
Their first televised debate — the first presidential debate in U.S. history — had been pretty tame. But now, in a TV studio in Washington with no audience, the gloves are off as the young senator from Massachusetts and the vice president battle over how to handle the Cold War.
5 min
1957: "Howl" Is Not Obscene
Allen Ginsberg isn't on trial for writing the poem but another poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, is — for selling it at his City Lights Books. The hippest crowd that ever gathered at the Hall of Justice cheers the verdict.
5 min
1995: O.J. Simpson Acquitted
It wasn't the first 20th century trial to be dubbed the Trial of the Century. But it might be the one that keeps the title. The gloves didn't fit, and the Juice was acquitted.
6 min
1950: "Peanuts" Debuts
"Good ol' Charlie Brown," a little boy sitting on a curb says as a soon-to-be-familiar character with a round head strolls pass. "How I hate him!" The angst-filled, psychologically fraught newspaper comic has arrived.
5 min
1964: Free Speech Movement Born
A former grad student sits in a car at UC-Berkeley but he's not going anywhere. He's under arrest, the car is surrounded by fellow protesters, and Mario Savio is standing on the roof giving a speech. It's the first hours of the Free Speech Movement.
4 min
1982: Extra Deadly Tylenol
Seven people die in the Chicago suburbs after taking Extra Strength Tylenol laced with cyanide. The murders are never solved. The case, which terrorized America, changed the way medicine and food are packaged.
4 min
1983: Drug and Alcohol Crowd at the White House!
That's what Interior Secretary James Watt called the audience for the Beach Boys when he banned them from a July Fourth concert at the National Mall. But whoops: The Reagans dug the nostalgia act. Originally aired June 13, 2019.
5 min
1923: General Theory of Relativity Confirmed
You'll be glad to know Albert Einstein was right. Astronomers at the Lick Observatory in San Jose confirmed it by examining photos of a 1922 eclipse. How did that confirm Einstein? We asked an astronomer at the Lick Observatory. Originally published April 12, 2019.
6 min
1995: Talking With the Unabomber
"I'm just very fortunate that I'm not dead," UC Berkeley professor Tom Tyler said after receiving a letter from the Unabomber. It was his manifesto, not a mail bomb. And Tyler wrote back. Originally published July 3, 2019.
6 min
1905: "I Am Poisoned!"
Jane Lathrop Stanford, co-founder of the university, survives a poisoning attempt at her palatial home in San Francisco. Devastated, she sails to Hawaii, vowing never to return to her house. She doesn't. A second poisoning kills her—a murder that Stanford's president covers up. Originally published March 1, 2019.
5 min
1967: Ballet Superstars Busted
A complaint in the Haight leads to the cops breaking up a hippie pot party. Among those under arrest: Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. Rudy pouts and tells reporters, "You're all children!" Originally published July 11, 2019.
4 min
1989: The FBI's Gay Spying Program
The Chronicle's Randy Shilts reports that the FBI conducted exhaustive and apparently illegal surveillance of the gay-rights movement from the '50s to the '70s, despite never finding evidence of any subversive activity or crime.
5 min
1952: Charlie Chaplin Exiled
Once one of America's most beloved movie stars, the great comedian was now being hounded by the FBI for his leftist politics and by the media for a series of personal scandals. Sailing for London, he learns he's not welcome to return to the U.S.
5 min