Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “The Gates” opens in New York’s Central Park

On February 12, 2005, 7,503 orange curtains unfurl across New York City’s Central Park from thousands of gates. The art installation, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “The Gates,” will be gone by the end of the month, but it will leave a lasting impression and be remembered as one of the best-known and most beloved works of site-specific public art.

Husband-and-wife artistic duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude first conceived of the project in 1979. The city rejected their proposal in 1981, but, as the artists later stated, the arduous process of getting approval for such a massive installation on city property was itself an artistic performance. “He adds a dimension to the work, no matter what he thinks,” Christo said of the parks commissioner who first rejected “The Gates.” After years of negotiating and resistance from the denizens of the Upper West Side, construction began in 2004 and Mayor Michael Bloomberg unfurled the first curtain on the morning of February 12, 2005.

Like the couple’s previous works, which included wrapping Berlin’s Reichstag in cloth and hanging an enormous orange curtain across a Colorado mountain pass, “The Gates” was as conceptually simple as it was logistically challenging. It took over eight hundred workers to install the thousands of 16-foot-high gates, hung with cloth panels, which straddled 23 miles of Central Park’s pathways and transformed the park into a unique, ephemeral work of art.

Despite initial complaints from prominent locals like late-night host David Letterman, tourists flocked to see “The Gates” and most in the art world considered it an unmitigated success. “In the winter light, the bright fabric seemed to warm the fields, flickering like a flame against the barren trees,” wrote the New York Times. “Even at first blush, it was clear that ‘The Gates’ is a work of pure joy, a vast populist spectacle of good will and simple eloquence, the first great public art event of the 21st century.”

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Angela Merkel becomes Chancellor of Germany

Year
2005
Month Day
November 22

Angela Merkel is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany on November 22, 2005. The first woman to hold the position, Merkel emerged as one of the strongest forces in European politics over the subsequent decade. She has frequently been called the most powerful woman in the world and the de facto leader of the European Union.

Merkel was raised and educated in East Germany. She earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry and worked as a research scientist, only entering politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall. After serving as a spokesperson for the caretaker East German government, she was elected to the Bundestag in the first election after unification in 1990. Helmut Kohl, the first chancellor of the reunified state, appointed her to successive cabinet positions and championed her career. When Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union was voted out in 1998, Merkel became the party’s Secretary-General and then its Leader. After a tight election and two weeks of negotiations with the CDU’s coalition partners, Merkel became Chancellor in 2005.

Merkel’s tenure has been characterized by her desire for a strong EU and by the crises it has faced. Governing from the center-right, by European standards, she drew criticism from the left after the 2008 financial crisis due the perception that Germany was imposing severe austerity measures on Greece. In 2015, she made the controversial announcement that Germany would process asylum applications for Syrian refugees who had arrived elsewhere in Europe, including those being forced out of Hungary by far-right prime minister Viktor Orban. Merkel was close with American presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but questioned the United States’ commitment to Europe after meeting with Donald Trump. She is also an outspoken critic of Britain’s decision to leave the EU and of Vladimir Putin.

Though her popularity in Germany has vacillated considerably, Merkel is currently the longest-tenured head of government in Europe. She stepped down as leader of her party in 2018 and has announced that she does not plan to run for re-election as Chancellor in 2021.

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Suicide bombers stage attacks in Bali

Year
2005
Month Day
October 01

On October 1, 2005, suicide bombers strike three restaurants in two tourist areas on the Indonesian island of Bali, a popular resort area. The bombings killed 22 people, including the bombers, and injured more than 50 others. This was the second suicide-bombing incident to rock the island in less than three years. (In 2002, a series of three bombs killed 202 people, many of them foreign nationals in Bali on vacation, including 88 Australians.)

The blasts occurred nearly simultaneously, hitting two outdoor restaurants in the Jimbaran beach resort and a third in Kuta, a tourist center about 19 miles away. The attacks, like those in 2002, were thought to be the work of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), an extremist Islamist militant group with links to al-Qaida. JI is also believed to be responsible for the bombing of a Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2003 that resulted in the deaths of 12 people and of the Australian embassy in Indonesia in 2004, in which 10 people died.

Though Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world, the island of Bali is mainly Hindu.

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Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph agrees to plead guilty

Year
2005
Month Day
April 08

Eric Rudolph agrees to plead guilty to a series of bombings, including the fatal bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, in order to avoid the death penalty. He later cited his anti-abortion and anti-homosexual views as motivation for the bombings. 

Eric Robert Rudolph was born September 19, 1966, in Merritt Island, Florida. He served a brief stint in the U.S. Army and later supported himself by working as a carpenter. On July 27, 1996, a 40-pound pipe bomb exploded in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, killing one woman and injuring over 100 people. A security guard named Richard Jewell was initially considered the prime suspect in the case. Then, on January 16, 1997, two bombs went off at an Atlanta-area medical clinic that performed abortions, injuring seven people. In February of that same year, a bomb detonated at a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta, injuring four people. On January 29, 1998, a bomb exploded at a Birmingham, Alabama, women’s health clinic, killing a security guard and critically injuring a nurse.

Rudolph became a suspect in the Birmingham bombing after witnesses reported spotting his pickup truck near the clinic before the bomb went off. Authorities then launched a massive manhunt in North Carolina, where he was spotted stocking up on supplies. In February 1998, Rudolph was officially charged as a suspect in the Birmingham bombing. In March 1998, Rudolph’s brother Daniel cut off his hand to protest what he saw as the mistreatment of Eric by the F.B.I and the media. In May of that same year, Eric Rudolph was named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and a $1 million reward was offered for his capture. In July, a North Carolina health food store owner reported that Rudolph had taken six months’ of food and supplies from him, leaving $500 in exchange.

READ MORE: Why the Hunt for the Real Atlanta Bomber Took Nearly 7 Years

In October 1998, Rudolph was officially charged in the three Atlanta bombings. He continued to elude authorities, who believed he was hiding in the Appalachian wilderness and possibly getting assistance from supporters in the region. Then, on May 31, 2003, after over five years as a fugitive, Rudolph was arrested by a rookie police officer who found him digging through a grocery store Dumpster in Murphy, North Carolina. On April 8, 2005, just weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin, the Department of Justice announced that Rudolph would plead guilty to the charges against him in all four bombings. He was later sentenced to four life terms without parole and in August 2005 was sent to the supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado.

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Police search Van der Sloot home in Holloway disappearance

Year
2005
Month Day
June 15

On this day in 2005, more than two weeks after American teen Natalee Holloway vanished while on a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba, police there search the home of 17-year-old Joran Van der Sloot, one of the last known people to see the young woman alive. Although Van der Sloot would emerge as a prime suspect in the case, he was never charged. Holloway’s disappearance generated massive media attention in the United States; however, her body never has been found, and in 2012 she was declared legally dead.

Holloway, an 18-year-old from Mountain Brook, Alabama, was last seen leaving an Aruban bar and restaurant with Van der Sloot and two of his friends, Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18, in the early hours of May 30. The young men initially claimed they dropped the blonde teen at her hotel around 2 a.m.; however, the three, who were arrested on June 9, later changed their stories. Van der Sloot reportedly admitted to being alone with Holloway on the beach on May 30, after being dropped there by the Kalpoe brothers, but said he never harmed her. After a judge deemed there was not enough evidence to hold them, the Kalpoes were released from custody in early July. Van der Sloot, who was born in the Netherlands and raised in Dutch-speaking Aruba, was released in September. A string of additional suspects were detained but no charges were filed. Despite extensive searches of the island and surrounding ocean by investigators and volunteers, the case remained unsolved.

In 2007, police re-arrested Van der Sloot and the Kalpoes in connection with Holloway’s disappearance, but once again soon released them due to insufficient evidence. The following year, a Dutch television program aired a secretly made tape in which Van der Sloot alleged Holloway had collapsed on the beach, and that after failing to revive her he had disposed of her body. He later retracted this statement.

On June 3, 2010, Van der Sloot was arrested in South America in connection with the slaying of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, in Lima, Peru. Flores was murdered on May 30, 2010, exactly five years to the day after Holloway went missing. Van der Sloot met the Peruvian college student at a Lima casino while he was there for a poker tournament. After Flores was found dead in a hotel room, beaten and with a broken neck, hotel surveillance video linked the Dutchman to the crime. After his arrest, he admitted to Peruvian authorities he had killed Flores following an argument. However, he later recanted this confession, saying he was frightened and confused when he made it. On the day Van der Sloot was arrested in South America, U.S. authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with a plot to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s family in exchange for revealing the location of her remains.

On January 11, 2012, Van der Sloot, who has been behind bars in Peru since his June 2010 arrest, pleaded guilty in a Lima courtroom to Flores’ murder. His lawyer contended the Dutchman killed Flores due to “extreme psychological trauma” after being accused in Holloway’s disappearance. Van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

One day before the sentencing in Peru, a judge in Birmingham, Alabama, signed an order declaring Natalee Holloway legally dead. The judge made the ruling at the request of Holloway’s father, so that he could settle his daughter’s estate.

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Terrorists attack London transit system at rush hour

Year
2005
Month Day
July 07

On the morning of July 7, 2005, bombs are detonated in three crowded London subways and one bus during the peak of the city’s rush hour. The synchronized suicide bombings, which were thought to be the work of al-Qaida, killed 56 people including the bombers and injured another 700. It was the largest attack on Great Britain since World War II. No warning was given.

The train bombings targeted the London Underground, the city’s subway system. Nearly simultaneous explosions, at about 8:50 a.m., occurred on trains in three locations: between the Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations on the Circle Line; between the Russell Square and King’s Cross stations on the Piccadilly Line; and at the Edgware Road station, also on the Circle Line. Almost an hour later, a double-decker bus on Upper Woburn Place near Tavistock Square was also hit; the bus’s roof was ripped off by the blast.

The attacks took place as world leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were meeting at the G8 summit in nearby Scotland. In his remarks after learning of the blasts, Blair called the attacks barbaric and pointed out that their taking place at the same time as the G8 summit was most likely purposeful. Later, he vowed to see those responsible brought to justice and that Great Britain, a major partner with the U.S. in the war in Iraq, would not be intimidated by terrorists.

Of the four suicide bombers, three were born in Great Britain and one in Jamaica. Three lived in or near Leeds in West Yorkshire; one resided in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. Al-Qaida officially claimed responsibility for the attacks on September 1, 2005, in a videotape released to the al-Jazeera television network.

Two weeks later, on July 21, 2005, a second set of four bombings was attempted, also targeting the city’s transit system, but failed when the explosives only partially detonated. The four men alleged to be responsible for the failed attacks were arrested in late July.

An estimated 3 million people ride the London Underground every day, with another 6.5 million using the city’s bus system.

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Aerosmith and 50 Cent headline a $10 million bat mitzvah

Year
2005
Month Day
November 27

In exchange for a multimillion-dollar fee, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith and rapper 50 Cent took to the stage at New York City’s famous Rainbow Room in the early morning hours of November 27, 2005, as headline performers at the $10 million bat mitzvah of Long Island 13-year-old Elizabeth Brooks

According to the ensuing coverage of the event in the New York Daily News, guests at the Brooks bat mitzvah began their celebration unaware of what lay ahead. When a soprano-sax player who looked suspiciously like Kenny G turned out, in fact, to be Kenny G, the bizarrely star-studded event was only getting started. In the hours preceding the appearances of Aerosmith and 50 Cent, former A-list stars Don Henley, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty all graced the stage at the Rainbow Room, entertaining guests who had been given gift bags containing upwards of $1,000 in personal electronics, including digital cameras that 50 Cent’s bodyguard reportedly tried and failed to stop guests from using to snap keepsake photos of the event. Within days, however, those photos had appeared on numerous blogs, along with thousands of snarky comments. 

The father who spent $10 million celebrating his daughter’s coming-of-age was defense contractor David H. Brooks, CEO of DHB Industries, a Long Island company that manufactured body armor for the United States military. Two years after the lavish event, Brooks was served with a 71-page federal indictment featuring charges of insider trading, tax evasion and raiding his company’s coffers for personal gain—including for the $10 million he used to pay for his daughter’s lavish bat mitzvah. He died in prison in 2016. 

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Trapped Russian sub rescued

Year
2005
Month Day
August 07

On August 7, 2005, a Russian Priz AS-28 mini-submarine, with seven crew members on board, is rescued from deep in the Pacific Ocean. On August 4, the vessel had been taking part in training exercises in Beryozovaya Bay, off the coast of Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka peninsula, when its propellers became entangled in cables that were part of Russia’s coastal monitoring system. Unable to surface, the sub’s crew was stranded in the dark, freezing submarine for more than three days.

At 1 p.m. on August 4, the Priz, trapped at 190 meters below the ocean surface, issued a mayday call. The Russian navy soon began to organize a rescue mission, asking for help from the United Kingdom, United States and Japan. In the ensuing days, while the three countries mobilized rescue crews for the trip to eastern Russia, the Russian navy attempted to first lift the sub from the water and later to drag it to shallower water where it could be reached by divers. Both approaches were complicated by the 60-ton anchor attached to the cables that had ensnared the sub. Finally, with fears mounting that the trapped crew’s oxygen supply would soon run out, the six-man crew of a British-owned-and-operated Scorpio-45 rescue sub arrived and was able to cut the sub loose. All seven on board, which included six Russian navy seamen and one representative of the company that made the sub, survived the ordeal.

The Priz incident occurred just five years after the Kursk, a Russian nuclear submarine, sank, killing all 118 people on board. In that disaster, the Russian government had delayed asking for outside help for some 30 hours and was widely blamed for the sailors deaths. As the disaster unfolded, Russian President Vladimir Putin stunned the public by failing to address the nation and even refused to cut short his vacation in light of the tragedy.

Although Russians everywhere were relieved and happy that the Priz was successfully rescued, others could not believe that the Russian navy had not acquired its own rescue equipment in the five years since the Kursk tragedy. For many, the Priz incident highlighted the effect of a decade of decay on the once-mighty Russian military.

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Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles wed

Year
2005
Month Day
April 09

Nearly eight years after Princess Diana’s death in a car crash was mourned the world over, Prince Charles, her widower and heir to the British throne, weds his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles. The marriage, a private civil ceremony, took place at Windsor Guildhall, 30 miles outside of London. The ceremony was originally supposed to take place on April 8, but had to be rescheduled so as not to conflict with the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

After the civil ceremony, which the queen did not attend, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams blessed the union on behalf of the Church of England in a separate blessing ceremony. An estimated 750 guests attended the ceremony, which was held at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor and was attended by both of Charles’ parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Twenty years earlier, on July 29, 1981, Prince Charles married his first wife, Lady Diana Spencer, who, at 20 years old, was 12 years his junior. Their lavish wedding attracted a television audience of 750 million, making it the most popular program broadcast to that time. Diana’s shy manner and beauty charmed audiences, sparking the international admiration she enjoyed for the rest of her life.

It has since come to light that Charles and Diana’s “fairy-tale” marriage was less than happy, involving infidelity on both sides, and the pair separated in 1992. In an interview several years later, Diana said “there were three of us in the marriage,” likely referring to Charles’ drawn-out affair with Parker Bowles. In 1996, about a year before Diana’s death, the couple divorced.

Prince Charles met his second wife, then Camilla Shand, at a polo match in 1970. They began dating, but Charles soon joined the navy and the relationship fizzled. Though she married army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, she remained friendly with Prince Charles and it is widely believed that an amorous relationship continued between the two even after his 1981 wedding to Diana. Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles divorced in 1995.

Camilla’s lack of popularity with the British public made news long before 1999, when she made her first public appearance as his companion. Though she technically became the Princess of Wales with the marriage, Parker Bowles has announced her preference for the title Duchess of Cornwall, in deference to the beloved late princess. Should Charles become king, she will become Queen Camilla, though she has already announced her intention to use the title Princess Consort, most likely in response to public opinion polls showing resistance to the idea of a “Queen Camilla.”

After the service, which ended with the singing of “God Save the Queen,” Queen Elizabeth hosted a two-hour reception in the State Apartments at Windsor Castle. The couple then left for a honeymoon at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland. Princes William and Harry, who were both said to be happy about the marriage, decorated the Bentley in which the couple left the reception.

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IRA officially disarms

Year
2005
Month Day
September 25

Two months after announcing its intention to disarm, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) gives up its weapons in front of independent weapons inspectors. The decommissioning of the group s substantial arsenal took place in secret locations in the Republic of Ireland. One Protestant and one Catholic priest as well as officials from Finland and the United States served as witnesses to the historic event. Automatic weapons, ammunition, missiles and explosives were among the arms found in the cache, which the head weapons inspector described as “enormous.”

Originally founded in 1919 to militarily oppose British rule in Ireland, the IRA had operated since about the 1960s as the military arm of Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist political party. The IRA (and splinter groups using various derivatives of the name) had used terrorist tactics and assassinations for more than 30 years in their struggle to free Northern Ireland from British rule.

In April 1998, after more than 22 months of negotiating, a 67-page peace accord called the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement was finally signed. Endorsed by the British and Irish governments, eight of Northern Ireland s ten political parties, and the region s voters, the agreement included power-sharing among Catholics and Protestants in government, a commitment to peace and democracy, and a pledge by paramilitary groups on both sides to decommission their weapons within two years. A ceasefire had been in place since 1997, and although they continued to abide by it, the IRA initially refused to give up their weapons. This stalled the peace process for almost six years.

Although many Northern Irish Protestants did not trust that the IRA was truly giving up all of its weapons, the disarmament represented an important step toward lasting peace in the long-troubled region. In the aftermath of the disarmament, IRA splinter groups threatened to continue the violence.

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