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February 2, 2013

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Feb. 2, the 33rd day of 2013. There are 332 days left in the year. This is Groundhog Day.

Today’s highlight in history:

On Feb. 2, 1913, New York City’s rebuilt Grand Central Terminal officially opened to the public at one minute past midnight.

On this date:

In 1536, present-day Buenos Aires, Argentina, was founded by Pedro de Mendoza of Spain.

In 1653, New Amsterdam — now New York City — was incorporated.

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican-American War, was signed.

In 1870, the “Cardiff Giant,” supposedly the petrified remains of a human discovered in Cardiff, N.Y., was revealed to be nothing more than carved gypsum.

In 1887, Punxsutawney, Pa., held its first Groundhog Day festival.

In 1912, Frederick R. Law parachuted from the torch of the Statue of Liberty in a stunt filmed by Pathe News.

In 1922, the James Joyce novel “Ulysses” was published in Paris on Joyce’s 40th birthday.

In 1943, the remainder of Nazi forces from the Battle of Stalingrad surrendered in a major victory for the Soviets in World War II.

In 1961, hijackers of a Portuguese ocean liner, the Santa Maria, allowed the passengers and crew to disembark in Brazil, a week and a-half after seizing the ship.

In 1971, Idi Amin, having seized power in Uganda, proclaimed himself president.

In 1988, in a speech the broadcast television networks declined to carry live, President Ronald Reagan pressed his case for aid to the Nicaraguan Contras.

Ten years ago: The search continued for pieces of the space shuttle Columbia, a day after the spacecraft disintegrated during re-entry over Texas, killing all seven astronauts. A hotel fire in northeastern China killed some three dozen people. An explosion destroyed a bank building in Lagos, Nigeria, killing at least 46 people.

Five years ago: A gunman killed five women at a Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park, Ill., in an apparent botched robbery attempt (the case remains unsolved). French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former supermodel Carla Bruni were married at the presidential Elysee Palace.

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