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15 Notable Anniversaries to Celebrate in 2024

With the new year comes a bevy of anniversaries, including famous births, world-changing political events, and major pop culture moments. What popular social network is two decades old? What landmark legislation was signed 60 years ago? Which two U.S. territories are celebrating 65 years of statehood? These 15 major events are hitting some celebration-worthy milestones in 2024.

25 Years of the Euro

The euro, currency of 20 member nations of the European Union, debuted on January 1, 1999. It was cashless (no paper money was involved; only debit cards, etc.) until 2002. Six more countries will eventually adopt the euro once they’ve met certain conditions, but one — Denmark — opted out entirely, preferring to stick with the krone.

The State of Alaska Turns 65

Alaska became the 49th U.S. state on January 3, 1959. The United States purchased the land from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million. Residents voted to become a state in 1946 after several eventful decades, including the Klondike gold rush in the 1890s, but Congress didn’t approve statehood until 1958.

The Winter Olympics Celebrate a Century

The International Olympic Committee supported what was originally called International Winter Sports Week in the French Alps in 1924 as a satellite event to the main Olympic Games, and it was such a rousing success that they retroactively called it the Winter Olympics and decided to have one every four years. Until 1992, they took place in the same year as the Summer Olympics.

Two Decades of Facebook

Facebook first launched as TheFacebook.com, it was exclusive to Harvard students. It later expanded to other prestigious universities, and eventually to anyone with a college email address. It opened up to everybody in 2006 — but early adopters may want to note that their 20-year college reunions are coming up soon.

The Eiffel Tower’s 135th Anniversary

The Eiffel Tower is perhaps the most iconic Parisian landmark, originally designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, or International Exposition. At the time, it was the tallest building in the world at 312 meters tall, or a little more than 1,023 feet — a title it held for 41 years.

50 Years Since ABBA’s Eurovision Victory

The Eurovision Song Contest is like the songwriting Olympics. It’s sponsored by the European Broadcasting Union, and member national broadcasters choose a song and an artist to represent their countries — sometimes with their own competition, sometimes not. Then, over three nights, the selected artists compete in an international broadcast, and one song and artist emerge victorious.In 1974, the big winner was, for the first time ever, Sweden, with perhaps one of the greatest cultural exports to ever emerge from Eurovision: “Waterloo” by ABBA. The contest propelled the group to instant stardom. The group had performed under different names before then, but the ABBA the world knows and loves started 50 years ago.

80 Years Since the Normandy Landings

On June 6, 1944, three major Allied forces of World War II — the United States, Great Britain, and Canada — all landed in five separate coastal locations by sea, land, and air in Normandy, France, then under Nazi control, at the same time. This is sometimes called the Normandy Landings, the Normandy Invasion, or D-Day, and it’s one of the most celebrated moments of WWII.

60 Years of the Civil Rights Act

The idea of outlawing discrimination based on race was highly controversial in the early 1960s, but after a long and difficult battle by civil rights advocates and a lot of holdup in both the House and Senate, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964. It outlawed racial segregation in employment, public places, and many businesses. After continued advocacy — including the well-known Selma to Montgomery March in Alabama — the Voting Rights Act passed the following year.

30 Years of Amazon

Amazon.com went live as a virtual bookstore in 1995 — but a year earlier, former Wall Street executive Jeff Bezos started the company in his Bellevue, Washington, garage. At the time, it was named Cadabra, but that had an unfortunate similarity to the word “cadaver,” so he switched it to Amazon. The rest is history: Amazon sells pretty much everything, and Bezos is one of the richest people in the world.

Ernest Hemingway’s 125th Birthday

Famed writer Ernest Hemingway, author of The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, and many other acclaimed works, was born July 21, 1899, in a suburb of Chicago. His works earned him a Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, exactly 70 years ago. (He also loved cats.)

The State of Hawaii Turns 65

Alaska and Hawaii became U.S. states in the same year, with Hawaii becoming the 50th state on August 21, 1959. The archipelago became a U.S. territory in 1900 after President William McKinley annexed it in 1898 despite protests from Lili’uokalani, the last queen of Hawaii. It took nearly 60 years for the territory to achieve statehood, which gave Hawaii legislative representation.

60th Anniversary of the First Bullet Train Trip

Shinkansen, Japan’s high-speed rail line also known as the Bullet Train, took its inaugural trip on October 1, 1964, less than two weeks before that year’s Tokyo Olympic Games started. The line, which traveled at around 130 miles per hour, cut the travel time from Tokyo to Osaka by around half, from 6.5 hours to 3 hours, 10 minutes. Most Shinkasen today operate at around 186 miles per hour, but some run up to 200, making them still among the fastest trains in the world.

200th Anniversary of Mexico’s 1st Constitution

Mexico’s Independence Day, celebrated on September 16, commemorates a rallying cry for independence from Spain in 1810. The country gained independence in 1821 and, after a brief transitional period, adopted its first constitution as an independent nation on October 4, 1824. That constitution was the first of several: It was replaced in 1836, then effectively reinstated in 1847. Another more liberal constitution went into effect in 1857. Mexico’s current constitution was adopted on February 5, 1917, after the Mexican Revolution.

35 Years Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall

In 1961, Soviet-controlled East Germany built a barrier around West Berlin, which was fully enclosed by East Germany but controlled by Western forces. Eventually, this barrier scaled up to a large concrete edifice known as the Berlin Wall. The wall started to come down on November 9, 1989, with official demolition beginning the following year.

30 Years of PlayStation

After a failed attempt to partner with Nintendo to release its console, Sony decided to launch a new gaming system on its own. The PlayStation launched on December 3, 1994, in Japan, and came to America the following September. Unlike the cartridge-based Nintendo and Sega systems, Sony released its games on CD, something that the Sega Dreamcast and Microsoft Xbox would also do when they debuted in 1999 and 2001, respectively. By the time it ceased production in 2005, PlayStation One had shipped more than 100 million units.

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