• On Dec. 2, 1867, English writer Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in the United States, in a New York City theater. Dickens was a hit with the American public. The line for his first reading was more than a mile long.
• On Dec. 6, 1884, in Washington, D.C., workers place a 9-inch aluminum pyramid atop a 555-foot tower of white marble, completing construction of the Washington Monument. A city law passed in 1910 restricted the height of new buildings to ensure that the monument would remain the tallest structure in Washington, D.C.
• On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol. Mississippi, the last dry state in the Union, ended Prohibition in 1966.
On Dec. 3, 1967, 53-year-old Lewis Washkansky receives the first human heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa. Washkansky was given drugs to keep his body from rejecting the heart, but those drugs also left him susceptible to sickness, and 18 days later he died from double pneumonia.
• On Dec. 1, 1990, in the Channel Tunnel, or “Chunnel,” 132 feet below the English Channel, workers drill through a wall of rock, connecting the two ends of an underwater tunnel linking Great Britain with the European mainland. The Channel Tunnel opened for passenger service on May 6, 1994.
(c) 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.