Time magazine called it the Decade from Hell. The Boston Red Sox know it as the decade the Curse of the Bambino came to an end. And all Americans know the past decade as the one when terrorism struck home.
The decade began with a sigh of relief when the feared computer Y2K bug failed to materialize as companies adjusted their systems in time. And optimism prevailed when AOL and Time Warner decided to merge in a deal that epitomized the dot-com era's belief in seemingly unlimited growth.
But tensions grew quickly in the 2000s: There was the crash of the Concorde, the beginning of the second Intifada, the attack on the USS Cole, and a hotly disputed presidential election that wasn't officially decided until the Supreme Court halted the recount of ballots in Florida.
The rest of the decade bore witness to:
• Violence. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were the worst of a series of terrorist attacks, followed several years later by a train bombing in Spain and a subway blast in London. After 9/11, the United States led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russia and Georgia tangled in later year, each side blaming the other for the conflict.
• Natural disasters. Nearly 230,000 people spread over several South Asia countries died in a tsunami spawned by an Indian Ocean earthquake. Tens of thousands were killed by earthquakes in Pakistan and China. Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans.
• Economic malaise. The collapse of the dot-com and housing bubbles fostered two financial crises: The second one resulted in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression.
News wasn't bad for everyone. Apple unveiled the iPod, and later, the iPhone.The Boston Red Sox broke an 86-year drought in winning the World Series. Michael Phelps swam into the record books with eight Olympic gold medals. An airline pilot saved more than 150 lives by landing on the Hudson River.
There were plenty of firsts. First Austrian bodybuilder to become the governor of California. First woman to win an Indy race. First female speaker of the House. First Hispanic member of the Supreme Court. First African-American president.
The final year of the decade saw the death of the biggest musical star of his generation; political rancor ("You lie!") over proposals to change U.S. health care, which could result in the most far-reaching government program since the Great Society; and a sex scandal surrounding professional golf's biggest draw.
Hubble Finds Mysterious Disk of Blue Stars Around Black Hole September 2005