December 31st

2009
Both a Blue Moon and lunar eclipse occured on the same day. The next such event to happen on New Year's eve will be in 2028.
Blue moon
2006
The death toll for Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000.
Media coverage of the Iraq War
1997
Michael Kennedy, 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.
Michael LeMoyne Kennedy
1994
Date skipped in Kiribati. The Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands in Kiribati skip December 31st due to a change in their time zone from UTC−11:00 to UTC+13:00 and UTC−10:00 to UTC+14:00, respectively.
Talk:Kiribati
1993
Entertainer Barbra Streisand performed her first paid concert in 22 years, singing to a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
Barbra Streisand in Concert
1987
Robert Mugabe sworn in as Zimbabwe's president.
Robert Mugabe
1985
Rock singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas.
List of fatalities from aviation accidents
1983
Coup in Nigeria. A military coup in Nigeria overthrew the civilian government of Shehu Shagari and installed Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari.
1983 Nigerian coup d'état
1974
Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
Executive Order 6102
1964
The al-Fatah guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their first terrorist raid on Israel.
Palestine Liberation Organization
1963
Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formally dissolved.
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
1961
The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
Marshall Plan
1958
Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista tells his Cabinet he is fleeing the country.
François Duvalier
1951
The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
Marshall Plan
1946
President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
Proclamation 2714
1938
The first breath test for drivers, 'drunkometer,' was introduced in Indianapolis.
1909
Manhattan Bridge opens for traffic. The Manhattan Bridge, one of the first suspension bridges ever constructed, was opened to traffic on this day. The bridge was designed by Leon Moisseiff and crosses the East River in New York City.
Manhattan Bridge
1907
The first annual ball drop at Times Square. The annual tradition of dropping a ball at 11:59 pm to mark the start of the New Year was organized for the first time by Adolph Ochs, the owner of the New York Times.
Times Square Ball
1890
Ellis Island (NYC) opens as a US immigration depot.
Ellis Island
1879
Thomas Edison gave the first public demonstration of an electric incandescent lamp.
Thomas Edison
1862
President Abraham Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
Presidency of Abraham Lincoln
1861
22,990mm of rain falls in Cherrapunji Assam in India in 1861, a world record.
Cherrapunji
1857
Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
Province of Canada
1775
Battle of Quebec in American Revolutionary War. Americans defeated trying to take British stronghold
Battle of Quebec (1775)
1744
English astronomer James Bradley announces discovery of Earth's nutation motion (wobble).
James Bradley
406
80,000 Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine at Mainz, beginning invasion of Gallia.
Crossing of the Rhine