“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us” —Hal Borland
At the stroke of midnight on January 1, the year 2017 will officially be over. Designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism by the United Nations, the year 2017 gave us a new American president, a historic solar eclipse, and a Royal engagement. Below are 27 fun facts about the year that was.
27. Super Structures
2017 was a banner year for skyscraper construction, with over 144 buildings over 200 meters being constructed. 15 of those buildings exceeded 300 meters, and two buildings exceeded 500 meters. The structures spanned 69 cities in 23 countries, with China beating out every country, with 73 buildings constructed over 200 meters.
26. Impacting Entertainment
According to USA Today, one of the people who made the biggest impact on entertainment this year was author Margaret Atwood. The television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the most talked-about and celebrated shows of the year. First published in 1985, the book takes place in a totalitarian theocracy where women are stripped of all rights. The image of the handmaids in their red robes and white bonnets immediately became iconic, and has showed up in political protests, Halloween costumes, and more.
25. Box Office Bomb
Matt Damon’s movie Suburbicon was the biggest box-office flop of 2017, grossing only 5.7 million. Rounding out the top 3 were A Cure for Wellness with 8.1 million, and Thank You for Your Service with 9.4 million. None of these films came close to recouping their costs, which were $25 million, $40 million, and $20 million, respectively.
24. Total Eclipse of the Sun
On August 21, 2017, North America was treated to a total solar eclipse. It was the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in almost four decades.
23. Year of Sustainable Tourism
The United Nations designated 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The goal of the initiative is to educate people on how international tourism helps people understand different cultures and the heritage of other civilizations. The hope is that it will help strengthen world peace.
22. Always Check Your Pockets
In May 2017, a New Jersey man was watching TV when he saw a news report about a $24.1 million unclaimed New York Lottery prize that was about to expire. He went to his closet, checked the stack of tickets he’d stuck in a shirt pocket, and was shocked to discover that he in fact had the winning ticket!
21. A Colorful Concoction
On April 19, Starbucks introduced a limited-edition menu item called a “unicorn Frappuccino.” The drink was a bright purple color with blue syrup drizzle, topped with whipped cream and blue and purple sprinkles. The drink quickly became a social media fad, and increased sales at least 4% over the previous quarter.
20. The Ginger Takes It
In September 2017, Ed Sheeran’s single “The Shape of You” topped the Spotify charts for most streamed song of all time with over 1.3 billion plays. Sheeran is also the most streamed artist in the world with over 40 million monthly listeners on the service.
19. What’s in a Name?
According to Nameberry, Atticus and Olivia were the top names for boys and girls, respectively, in 2017. Atticus was the name of the central character in Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as the name of a Roman literary figure.
18. Turning 20
There are a number of major events and pop culture phenomenons that turned 20 in 2017. In 1997, the Backstreet Boys released their debut album, the Spice Girls released the Spice World movie, the movie Titanic smashed box office records, the Harry Potter book series was released, and Ellen DeGeneres made history when she officially came out in an issue of Time magazine. Also notable was the death of Princess Diana, which occurred in summer 1997.
17. Word of the Year
The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary has selected “Feminism” as the 2017 Word of the Year. Lookups for the word increased 70% this year, making it 2017’s most-searched word. The first spike took place around the time of the Women’s March in January 2017, and searches for the word also spiked with the release of Wonder Woman.
16. Binge Watching
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, binge watching TV shows is now commonplace around the world. According to Netflix, we collectively watch 140 million hours of shows and movies per day. Data revealed that one Netflix user streamed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl 365 days in a row, and Mexico has the most members watching Netflix on a daily basis.
15. Chicken Nugget Challenge
In April 2017, Carter Wilkinson, a high schooler, asked Wendy’s how many retweets it would take for him to get free chicken nuggets for a year. The joking answer was 18 million, and while he didn’t quite reach that number, he did beat the long-standing record set by Ellen DeGeneres for most retweets of a single tweet. In addition to free nuggets for a year, Wendy’s also made a donation to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in Wilkinson’s name.
14. Oscars Gaffe
For the first time in Oscars history, the wrong movie was announced for Best Picture in 2017. After first announcing La La Land as the winning film, the film’s producer took the mic and announced Moonlight as the winner instead. A duplicate of the Best Actress envelope had accidentally been handed to the presenters instead of the one for Best Picture, causing the unprecedented mix-up.
13. ALS Treatment
In 2017, the fruits of the research funded by the “ice-bucket challenge” paid off, and Israeli Scientists at Ben-Gurion University announced that they’d developed a new treatment that extends the life expectancy of patients suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The drug may also have implications on the life expectancy of patients with other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
12. Extra-Vehicular Time
In 2017, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the record for most cumulative days spent in orbit by a US Astronaut. She also holds the record for the woman with the most extra-vehicular time, and was the first woman to command the International Space Station.
11. Transforming the Industry
At the 2017 Grammy Awards, Chance the Rapper, an unsigned rapper with a huge following, made history by winning three awards (for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance). His album was released on streaming services only.
10. Operation Pets Alive!
In fall of 2017, Hurricane Harvey left many animals stranded at overcrowded shelters. Southwest Airlines stepped in with “Operation Pets Alive” and transported 60 puppies from Houston to San Diego, where thanks to the Helen Woodward Animal Center, they found new homes.
9. Year of the Rooster
On the Chinese lunar calendar, 2017 was marked as the “Year of the Rooster” and was a “Fire rooster” year. According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with one of the five elements, as well as an animal. The last time fire and rooster combined was in 1957.
RenovaCare developed a device in 2017 called a SkinGun that sprays burn victims with their own stem cells. These cells help the damaged skin regrow without scars. The device is still waiting for FDA approval, but has already proven successful with patients in the US and Germany.
7. Quote of the Year
Kellyanne Conway’s “Alternative Facts” quote topped the Yale Book of Quotations for 2017. The quote is chosen by Fred Shaprio, associate director at Yale Law School, and the quotes are chosen for level of fame, or for their revelation of the spirit of the times.
6. Where Have All the Pilots Gone?
In November, a computer glitch allowed thousands of American Airlines staff to schedule vacation during the last two weeks of December, leaving several flights without pilots. As of November 30, more than 15,000 flights did not have a pilot, first officer, or both, and the airline was left scrambling to schedule employees to avoid cancellations.
5. A Royal Engagment
On November 27, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially announced their engagement. The fact that Markle is an actress, American, and of mixed race signifies a major break from British Royal tradition, and is a step towards modernizing the monarchy.
4. What’s on Your Mind?
“Hurricane Irma,” “iPhone 8,” “iPhone X,” “Matt Lauer,” and “Meghan Markle” were the top five Google searches of the year. “How to” searches were also popular, with people wondering how to make slime, how to make glasses for the solar eclipse, and how to buy bitcoin ranking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
3. The Human Chain
In July 2017, two young boys were swept away by a riptide in the waters of Panama City, Florida. Their mother and most of her relatives immediately jumped into the water to save them, but they too were trapped by the strong current. Others who tried to rescue them also got stuck, leaving nine people struggling to stay alive. That’s when something incredible happened: 80 people formed a human chain from the beach to the water, and they were able to pull all of the exhausted swimmers back to safety.
2. Breaking the Silence
Each year, the editors of Time magazine select a Person of the Year based on a group, person, idea, or object that had the biggest influence on the events of the year. For 2017, the #metoo movement and the courageous women who spoke out against sexual harassment and assault were selected as “The Silence Breakers.” According to Time, “The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover … along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s.”
1. Moving Backward
Despite all the positive social change taking place across the globe, there are still some countries that are not so progressive. One example of this is China banning all LGBT content from the internet following 2016’s ban of LGBT content from Chinese Television. The Chinese Netcasting Services Association will ban what it calls “abnormal” sexual activity including depictions of homosexual relationships and prostitution from the web.
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