German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle discovers the planet Neptune at the Berlin Observatory.
Neptune, generally the eighth planet from the sun, was postulated by the French astronomer Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, who calculated the approximate location of the planet by studying gravity-induced disturbances in the motions of Uranus. On September 23, 1846, Le Verrier informed Galle of his findings, and the same night Galle and his assistant Heinrich Louis d’Arrest identified Neptune at their observatory in Berlin. Noting its movement relative to background stars over 24 hours confirmed that it was a planet.
The blue gas giant, which has a diameter four times that of Earth, was named for the Roman god of the sea. It has eight known moons, of which Triton is the largest, and a ring system containing three bright and two dim rings. It completes an orbit of the sun once every 165 years. In 1989, the U.S. planetary spacecraft Voyager 2 was the first human spacecraft to visit Neptune.
WATCH: The Universe on HISTORY Vault
On September 23, 1972, “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” by singer-songwriter Mac Davis reached the top of the American pop charts. In a year that not only saw Congress pass the Equal Rights Amendment, but also saw Helen Reddy score a #1 hit with her feminist anthem “I Am Woman,” “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” stands in rather stark contrast as one of the more blithely chauvinistic pop hits of all time.
Early in his career, Scott “Mac” Davis was best known within the music industry as a professional songwriter who scored a quartet of late-career hits for Elvis Presley—”A Little Less Conversation” (1968), “Memories” (1969), “In The Ghetto” (1969) and “Don’t Cry Daddy” (1969)—and another for Bobby Goldsboro—”Watching Scotty Grow” (1971). With “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me,” Davis would score his first hit as a performer.
“Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” was sung from the perspective of a young man reluctant to allow a romantic fling to turn into a committed relationship, despite a certain undeniable fondness for his paramour. “You’re a hot-blooded woman-child,” he sings, “and it’s warm where you’re touchin’ me.“But after dispensing with such pleasantries, the protagonist proceeds to explain, “Baby, baby, don’t get hooked on me/’Cause I’ll just use you and I’ll set you free.”
Despite lyrics likely to be deemed chauvinistic by 21st-century standards, “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” found ready acceptance in 1972 and launched Mac Davis on a decade-long run in the pop-cultural spotlight. And in contrast to the apparent callousness of “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me,” Mac Davis proved during that run to be one of the most charming and likable characters in the pop-cultural landscape, not only hosting his own short-lived TV variety show, but also making numerous appearances as an actor on television and in movies. And if the song that made him a star hasn’t aged all that well, his signature tune, “I Believe In Music” and his humorously self-deprecating country hit “It’s Hard To Be Humble” certainly have.
Amid much public excitement, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark return to St. Louis, Missouri, from the first recorded overland journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast and back. The Lewis and Clark Expedition had set off more than two years before to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase.
Even before the U.S. government concluded purchase negotiations with France, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned his private secretary Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, an army captain, to lead an expedition into what is now the U.S. Northwest. On May 14, the “Corps of Discovery,” featuring some two dozen men, left St. Louis for the American interior.
READ MORE: Lewis and Clark: A Timeline of the Extraordinary Expedition
The expedition traveled up the Missouri River in six canoes and two longboats and wintered in Dakota before crossing into Montana, where they first saw the Rocky Mountains. On the other side of the Continental Divide, they were met by Sacagawea’s tribe, the Shoshone Indians, who sold them horses for their journey down through the Bitterroot Mountains. After passing through the dangerous rapids of the Clearwater and Snake rivers in canoes, the explorers reached the calm of the Columbia River, which led them to the sea. On November 8, 1805, the expedition arrived at the Pacific Ocean, the first European explorers to do so by an overland route from the east. After pausing there for winter, the explorers began their long journey back to St. Louis.
On September 23, 1806, after two and a half years, the expedition returned to the city, bringing back a wealth of information about the largely unexplored region, as well as valuable U.S. claims to Oregon Territory.
On September 23, 1992, Manon Rheaume becomes the first woman to play in one of the four major men’s North American pro sports leagues when she takes the ice for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning in a preseason game. The 20-year-old goalie faces nine shots and allows two goals in St. Louis’ 6-4 victory. “I was very nervous,” she tells the Tampa Bay Tribune.
Born in Quebec on Feb. 23, 1972, Rheaume made history in 1984 when she became the first female to play for a boys team in a Canadian Pee-Wee tournament. Seven years later, she made history again when she became the first woman to play in a men’s junior hockey game in Canada.
Tampa Bay was an expansion team in 1992, and Rheaume’s presence in training camp was a public relations bonanza for the team. “I know part of the reason I am here is for publicity,” Rheaume told the Tribune. “But it’s still a chance to play. That’s what I care about.”
Tampa Bay general manager Tony Esposito saw potential in Rheaume. “We’ll give her a serious look,” he told the Tribune. “This isn’t a joke.” Rheaume, however, did not make the team, and she never played in a regular-season NHL game.
In December 1992, Rheaume became the first woman to appear in a regular-season professional hockey game when she played for the Atlanta Knights of the International Hockey League. Rheaume also starred for the Canadian women’s national team.
Rheaume initially retired in 1997 but made a brief comeback for the 2008-09 season.
On September 22, 1994, the television sitcom Friends, about six young adults living in New York City, debuts on NBC. The show, which featured a group of relatively unknown actors, went on to become a huge hit and air for 10 seasons. It also propelled the cast—Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer—to varying degrees of stardom and success in Hollywood.
Of the six main Friends cast members, Jennifer Aniston emerged as arguably the most famous. Aniston played the fashion-loving Rachel Green, who, when the show began, worked as a waitress at Central Perk, a coffee shop that served as a gathering spot for the friends. The actress’s blonde, layered hairstyle during the first season became known as “The Rachel” and was copied by women around the globe. Off-screen, Aniston, whose film credits include The Good Girl (2002), Bruce Almighty (2003), Rumor Has It (2005), The Break-Up (2006), Horrible Bosses (2011), We’re the Millers (2013), Cake (2014) and Dumplin’ (2018), became a tabloid-media fixture for her relationship with the actor Brad Pitt. The couple married in a lavish ceremony in Malibu, California, in 2000 and announced their separation in early 2005.
Courteney Cox, the best known of the cast members when Friends debuted, played Monica Geller, a neurotic, hyper-organized chef. The actress, who first gained notice when she appeared in the 1984 Bruce Springsteen video “Dancing in the Dark,” acted in the popular sitcom Family Ties and co-starred opposite Jim Carrey in 1994’s hit comedy Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994). She was later featured in the successful Scream movies and the TV series Dirt and Cougar Town. The third female Friends cast member, Lisa Kudrow, portrayed the wacky masseuse-musician Phoebe Buffay. Kudrow’s film credits include Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (1997), The Opposite of Sex (1998), Analyze This (1999) and its sequel Analyze That (2002) and P.S. I Love You (2007). In 2005, and again in 2015, she headlined the well-reviewed HBO comedy series The Comeback.
The male Friends included Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, a handsome but dim-witted struggling actor. From 2004 to 2006, LeBlanc starred in the spin-off TV series Joey.
David Schwimmer played Ross Geller, a sensitive paleontologist and Monica’s older brother. One of the main storylines on Friends was Ross’s on-again, off-again relationship with Aniston’s Rachel. Schwimmer’s other acting credits include the 2001 TV mini-series Band of Brothers. Rounding out the Friends cast was Matthew Perry, who played the wisecracking businessman Chandler Bing. Perry’s film credits include Fools Rush In (1997), The Whole Nine Yards (2000) and The Whole Ten Yards (2004); he also co-starred on the short-lived NBC comedy-drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
On May 6, 2004, more than 50 million viewers reportedly tuned in to the final episode of Friends, making it one of the most-watched TV finales in history. A Friends reunion special starring the original cast premiered in 2021 on HBO Max.
On September 22, 1953, the first four-level (or “stack”) interchange in the world opens in Los Angeles, California, at the intersection of the Harbor, Hollywood, Pasadena, and Santa Ana freeways. It was, as The Saturday Evening Post wrote, “a mad motorist’s dream”: 32 lanes of traffic weaving in eight directions at once. Today, although the four-level is justly celebrated as a civil engineering landmark, the interchange is complicated, frequently congested, and sometimes downright terrifying. (As its detractors are fond of pointing out, it’s probably no coincidence that this highway octopus straddles not only a fetid sulfur spring but also the former site of the town gallows.)
Before the L.A. four-level was built, American highway interchanges typically took the form of a cloverleaf, with four circular ramps designed to let motorists merge from one road to another without braking. But cloverleafs were dangerous, because people merging onto the highway and people merging off of the highway had to jockey for space in the same lane. Four-level interchanges, by contrast, eliminate this looping cross-traffic by stacking long arcs and straightaways on top of one another. As a result, each of their merges only goes in one direction–which means, at least in theory, that they are safer and more efficient.
When the iconic Hollywood-Harbor-Pasadena-Santa Ana four-level was born, it was the most expensive half-mile of highway in the world, costing $5.5 million to build. (Today, highway engineers estimate, $5.5 million would pay for just 250 feet of urban freeway.) Road-builders disemboweled an entire neighborhood–4,000 people lost their homes–and excavated most of the hill it stood on, dumping the rubble in the nearby Chavez Ravine, where Dodger Stadium stands today.
Though its design has inspired dozens of freeway interchanges across the United States, many Angelenos dread their encounters with the four-level: It’s as crowded (500,000 drivers use it every day), stressful and treacherous as the cloverleafs of yesteryear. Still, it’s an indispensable part of the fabric and the mythology of Los Angeles.
READ MORE: Los Angeles: A History