On July 17, 1970: The three-day New York Pop Festival opened on Randall’s Island. Still riding high off of the unexpected triumph of Woodstock the previous year, NYC music executives tried to recreate the commercial and popular success in New York, to no avail. Not only did half the big name line-up not show up, the festival was also picketed by 18 radical groups who demanded (confusingly) that both a portion of the ticket sales go to worthy causes and that everyone should get in for free. The latter demand was inadvertently put into effect when gate crashers literally crashed through the gates.
FLIGHT TWA 800 CRASHED
On July 17, 1996: Trans World Airlines Flight 800 crashed shortly after taking off from JFK airport. The Paris-bound flight exploded in mid-air about 11 minutes after take off before plunging into the water just off Long Island, killing all 230 people aboard. Though the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) maintains that the crash was the cause of a fuel tank explosion, conspiracy theories abound, claiming that the NTSB falsified reports and that there was something much more sinister at work.
On July 17, 1899: James Cagney was born in New York City. He first gained attention after playing the lead role in the 1929 play Penny Arcade. He then won an Oscar for his role as ‘George M. Cohan’ in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and received two other Oscar nominations for his roles in 1955’s Love Me or Leave Me and in 1938’s Angels with Dirty Faces.