Today in history

Published May 1, 2014 at 01:07AM

— From wire reports

Highlight: In 1898, Commodore George Dewey gave the command, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley,” as an American naval force destroyed a Spanish squadron in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

In 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain was created as a treaty merging England and Scotland took effect.

In 1786, Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” premiered in Vienna.

In 1911, the song “I Want a Girl (Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad),” by Harry Von Tilzer and Will Dillon, was first published.

In 1931, New York’s 102-story Empire State Building was dedicated. Singer Kate Smith made her debut on CBS Radio on her 24th birthday.

In 1941, the Orson Welles motion picture “Citizen Kane” premiered in New York.

In 1960, the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance plane over Sverdlovsk and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers.

In 1961, the first U.S. airline hijacking took place as Antulio Ramirez Ortiz, a Miami electrician, commandeered a National Airlines plane that was en route to Key West, Fla., and forced the pilot to fly to Cuba.

In 1963, James Whittaker became the first American to conquer Mount Everest as he and Sherpa guide Nawang Gombu reached the summit.

In 1964, the computer programming language BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) was created by Dartmouth College professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz.

In 1971, the intercity passenger rail service Amtrak went into operation.

In 1982, the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tenn., was opened by President Ronald Reagan.

In 1992, on the third day of the Los Angeles riots, a visibly shaken Rodney King appeared in public to appeal for calm, pleading, “Can we all get along?”

Ten years ago: Attackers stormed the offices of Houston-based ABB Lummus Global Inc. in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, killing six Westerners and a Saudi; all four attackers were killed after an hour-long police chase in which they dragged the body of an American from the bumper of their car. The European Union swelled from 15 nations to 25 by taking in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, along with the Mediterranean nations of Cyprus and Malta.

Five years ago: Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his retirement effective at the end of the court’s term in late June. (President Barack Obama chose federal judge Sonia Sotomayor to succeed him.)

One year ago: Workers around the world united in anger during May Day rallies — from fury in Europe over austerity measures that cut wages, reduced benefits and eliminated many jobs altogether, to rage in Asia over relentlessly low pay, the rising cost of living and hideous working conditions. Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was a unanimous choice as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.

Singer Judy Collins is 75. Actor Dann Florek is 63. Country singer Tim McGraw is 47. Movie director Wes Anderson is 45.