February 17th in History

The International Exhibition of Modern Art, New York City, commonly known as the Armory Show

Today in History

  • In Sweden, the day after February 17, 1753, is March 1, 1753, because of the move from thee Julian to the Gregorian calendar in that country. The days February 18—February 28, 1753, do not exist.
  • An Electoral College tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved by the US House of Representatives, who elect Jefferson as President and Burr as Vice President (1801)
  • In Geneva, Switzerland, a group of citizens founds the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, which subsequently became the International Red Cross (1863)
  • American Civil War: The Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic in the first case of a submarine sinking a warship (1864)
  • The first ship passes through the Suez Canal (1867)
  • The controversial International Exhibition of Modern Art, better known as the Armory Show, opens in New York City. It displays work by some of the most influential painters and sculptors of the early 20th century and has a major effect on American art (1913)
  • The US launches the first weather satellite, Vanguard 2 (1959)
  • The Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame opens (1968)
  • Cumulative sales of the Volkswagen Beetle exceed the sales of the Ford Model T (1972)
  • Garry Kasparov beats the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue 4-2 at chess. In a rematch the following year, Deep Blue wins, becoming the first computer system to defeat a world champion chess player under standard time controls (1996)
  • NASA launches the NEAR Shoemaker mission, which will become the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid (1996)
  • Kosovo declares independence (2008)


  • Lola Montez, actress and dancer, mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria (1821)
  • Aaron Montgomery Ward, department store magnate (1844)
  • Banjo Paterson, Australian poet who wrote “Waltzing Matilda” (1864)
  • Thomas J. Watson, chairman and CEO of IBM (1874)
  • André Maginot, politician who advocated the Maginot Line (1877)
  • Red Barber, sportscaster (1908)
  • Andre Norton, author (1912)
  • Arthur Kennedy, actor (1914)
  • Margaret Truman, author and Presidential daughter (1924)
  • Hal Holbrook, actor (1925)
  • Chaim Potok, author (1929)
  • Jim Brown, football player (1936)
  • Mary Ann Mobley, model and actress, Miss America (1939)
  • Gene Pitney, singer-songwriter (1940)
  • Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party (1942)
  • Rene Russo, actress (1954)
  • Lou Diamond Phillips, actor (1962)
  • Larry the Cable Guy, comedian (1963)
  • Michael Jordan, basketball player (1963)
  • Michael Bay, filmmaker (1965)
  • Denise Richards, actress (1971)
  • Paris Hilton, media personality (1981)


  • Giordano Bruno, mathematician and philosopher, burned at the stake (1600)
  • Molière, playwright (1673)
  • Heinrich Heine, journalist and poet (1856)
  • Geronimo, Native American leader (1909)
  • Thelonious Monk, jazz pianist and composer (1982)
  • Lee Strasberg, actor and director (1982)
  • Lefty Gomez, baseball player (1898)
  • Randy Shilts, j0urnalist (1994)
  • Dan O’Herlihy, actor (2005)
  • Kathryn Grayson, actress and singer (2010)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Independence Day (Kosovo)
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day (US)
  • Revolution Day (Libya)

February 17 is the 48th day of the year. There are 317 days (318 in leap years) remaining until the end of the year.