February 4, 1999 — Amadou Diallo is shot dead by the police

Amadou Diallo was only 23 years old, and had only been in New York City for about two and half years at the time of his death. Stopped by police, he was shot dead in the act of reaching for his wallet, when police believed he was going for a concealed weapon (Diallo was in fact completely unarmed). Four plainclothes policemen: Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss, fired a total of 41 shots at Diallo, hitting him with 19 them.

Unsurprisingly, all this overkill in the aid of precisely no useful purpose generated a considerable backlash against the NYPD, especially when the four officers were found innocent of all wrong-doing on appeal – even though one of them had shot and killed a different unarmed man two years previously. Although the unit to which the four officers belonged was disbanded as a result of the controversy, all of the men continued to work for the police force for some years after the incident.

March 28, 1999 — Shane Crawford plays his first game as Captain of Hawthorn

Shane Crawford played his first senior game for Hawthorn in 1993, and his talent saw him reach the exalted post of team captain on his seventh season with the club. That same year, he won the Brownlow Medal, the Leigh Matthews Trophy, the Peter Crimmins Trophy, and the Hawthorn Club Best and Fairest awards. He was also selected for the All-Australian team that year. Sadly, an injury led to him relinquishing the captaincy after the 2004 season.

After his recovery, he returned to continue his playing career with Hawthorn, and his 305th and last game was the 2008 Grand Final, in which Hawthorn scored an upset victory over the heavily favoured Geelong team. He was offered another season, but declined it, stating that he preferred to go out on a high. After his retirement from playing, he became a media personality in Australia. In 2012, he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

April 20, 1999 — The Columbine Massacre

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, with murder on their minds. At 11:19 AM, the pair opened fire. By the time the stopped shooting, a little under a half hour later, they had killed 13 people and injured 21 others (3 more people sustained injuries fleeing the pair). At approximately 12:08 PM, the pair finished their rampage by committing suicide.

In the aftermath, the entire American nation descended into a storm of grief and anger. Rumours and blame-throwing flew thick and fast, as a desperate search for an explanation (or, if you’re more cynical, a scapegoat), chased its own tail around and around and around, while the victims of the slayings became martyrs and the killers the greatest villains since Hitler.

More than a decade later, we know little more than we did then. Although several rumours regarding the killings have been thoroughly debunked, many of these remain widely believed. Short of a combination of telepathy and time travel, we will never know.

December 31, 1999 — Official opening of the Millennium Dome in London

One of those great “end of the millennium” boondoggles, the Millennium Dome – now renamed the O2 Dome, because heaven forbid that something not have a company’s name on it – sits in London, touching the Prime Meridian as it makes its way through Greenwich. It was the site of a private party (of the kind referred to as ‘star-studded’ in the more gushing newsrags) on New Year’s Eve, 1999, and opened as an exhibition centre that the public were allowed into the next day.

The Millennium Dome was controversial both during and after its construction – it was seen as a waste of public monies (being largely built with government money), and something of a white elephant. There were originally plans for it to host one of Premier League football teams, but nothing ever came of it. In 2002, the company that ran the Dome declared bankruptcy. Today, it still stands in London, where it is best known in recent years from serving as the site of the gymnastics events of the 2012 Olympics.

December 31, 1999 — The Twentieth Century ends

Technically, the Twentieth Century did not end for another year, at the end of the year 2000. But in the popular imagination, the last day of 1999 was the last day of the millennium. A day when many a religious – and one big secular – apocalypse was counted down to, to hit at the stroke of midnight. But neither the Second Coming nor the Y2K bug proved to be that big a threat.

The Twentieth Century was over with, and now, the 21st Century – the future – could begin. Only it turned out that if apocalypse wasn’t just around the corner, neither was utopia. And only 21 months into the new century, we’d all be dragged into a brand new endless Cold War when we’d just finally shaken off the last one.