Mafia boss heads to prison – Dubbed the "Teflon Don" for his ability to evade prosecution, John Gotti led the Gambino crime family for years after ordering the killing of his predecessor, Paul Castellano. The authorities finally caught up to Gotti, shown in 1990. He was later sent to prison for life after being convicted of murder, racketeering and other crimes.
Violence rages in South Africa – During clashes between rival political parties -- the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party -- a young man clubs the burning body of Lindsaye Tshabalala in Soweto, South Africa, on September 15, 1990. Violence in the early '90s between the two groups left thousands dead.
One Germany – After decades of division after World War II, a treaty that brought together the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic to form a unified Germany was ratified on October 3, 1990. Here, Germans celebrate the news in front of Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate.
Severing ties with the Soviets – One by one, Eastern European countries cut their ties with Moscow in the early 1990s, leading to the fall of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In this 1990 photo from Hungary, a dismantled statue of Joseph Stalin is dragged through the streets of Budapest.
Thousands stand up to the Communists – An estimated 500,000 protesters descended on Moscow's Manezh Square on March 19, 1991, to demand that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his Communist government relinquish power. By the end of the year, their demonstrations succeeded: The Soviet Union officially dissolved in December 1991.
'Seinfeld' signs off – The legendary sitcom that brought us the "Soup Nazi," "Hello ... Newman" and other unforgettable characters and catchphrases got off to a humble start in 1989. But "Seinfeld" went on to become the undisputed king of '90s television. An estimated 76 million US viewers tuned in to watch Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer one last time in the show's finale on May 14, 1998.
Pinatubo awakens – After sitting dormant for over six centuries, the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo rumbled back to life with devastating consequences on June 15, 1991. The eruption blasted hot ash 28 miles into the air and led to the deaths of 847 people, making it the most destructive eruption in the last 100 years, according to the US Geological Survey.
The KGB falls – Once the world's largest police and spy agency, the KGB met its end in 1991 after an unsuccessful coup attempt by its chief officer, Vladimir Kryuchkov. Taken days after the failed coup, this August 23, 1991, photo shows Muscovites stepping on the head of a toppled statue of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.
Mob killing – For his refusal to pay protection money demanded by the Mafia, Italian businessman Libero Grassi was gunned down near his home on August 29, 1991.
Struggle to survive – Though the Gulf War came to an end in 1991, internal conflict continued to roil Iraq in the years after and for much of the 25-plus years since. In this April 5, 1992 photo, frantic Kurdish refugees, forced to flee Saddam Hussein's regime, jostle for a loaf of bread during an aid distribution near the Iraqi-Turkish border.
Carson says 'good night' to 'The Tonight Show' – After nearly three decades of entertaining, Johnny Carson signed off as the host of "The Tonight Show," with the final episode airing on May 22, 1992. The finale concluded with Carson bidding fans a "very heartfelt good night," as he choked back tears.
'Dream Team' dominates in Barcelona – Will we ever see a team so stacked with star power again? Considered by many the greatest sports team ever assembled, the 1992 US men's basketball team featured all-time greats Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, among other Hall of Famers. Here, the "Dream Team" members receive their gold medals after defeating Croatia 117-85 at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
It's-a me, Super Nintendo! – The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES, was released to US consumers in 1991, and became the best-selling gaming console of its generation. With its advanced graphics and classic games like "Donkey Kong Country," "Super Mario World" and "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past," Nintendo sold more than 49 million of the systems worldwide.
'Cheers' to a happy ending – After 11 seasons and 270 episodes, the final episode of "Cheers," titled "One for the Road," aired on May 20, 1993. The farewell for the beloved sitcom was watched by 84 million viewers, making it the second most-watched TV finale of all-time.
Branch Davidian raid – After a 51-day standoff between federal agents and members of the Branch Davidian religious group, federal authorities raided the Waco, Texas, compound where authorities said the group's leader, David Koresh, and his followers were stockpiling weapons. This April 19, 1993, photo shows the massive fire that resulted from the siege, which killed dozens of Branch Davidians and led to criticism of the government's handling of the situation.
Black Hawk Down – The body of a dead US soldier is dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 4, 1993. He was one of 18 Americans killed in a failed raid in the city. The assault was aimed at capturing a notorious Somali warlord, but US forces were met with heavily armed resistance. Two US Black Hawk helicopters were downed in the operation, which also killed hundreds of Somalis.
Famine in Sudan – It's an image you cannot unsee. This photo of a vulture stalking a starving child in 1993 brought the realities of the famine sweeping across Sudan to global audiences in devastating fashion. The photographer, Kevin Carter, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for capturing the image, but Carter killed himself months after receiving the award.
Lorena Bobbitt acquittal – Lorena Bobbitt, shown during her trial, was accused of cutting off her husband's penis while he slept, then driving off with the appendage and tossing it in a field. In January 1994, she was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the couple's divorce was finalized the next year.
Earthquake rocks Los Angeles – In the early morning hours of January 17, 1994, the 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake rattled the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, smashing buildings, toppling interstate highways and leading to at least 57 deaths. In this photo, Ray Hudson mourns the loss of a friend's home, shown engulfed in flames sparked by the earthquake. The quake was the costliest in US history, with damages topping $20 billion.
Kerrigan's knee clubbed – Before the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, right, was injured by a man connected to her rival, fellow US figure skater Tonya Harding, left, sparking one of the biggest scandals in sports history. This made for some awkward practice sessions at the Olympics, like the one shown here in Lillehammer on February 17, 1994. Kerrigan won a silver medal at the Olympics, while Harding placed eighth and was later banned for life from the sport.
Jackie Onassis dies – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is seen on April 4, 1994, in New York's Central Park with her companion, Maurice Tempelsman. The former first lady was known for her style, her love of the arts, and the low profile she kept in the wake of the assassination of her first husband, President John F. Kennedy. Just over a month after this photo was taken, the beloved former first lady died of cancer at age 64.
Night falls ... during the day – On May 10, 1994, New Yorkers and Lady Liberty were treated to an annular solar eclipse, where the moon appears to block out the sun, apart from a "ring of fire" around the edges of the moon. To get this shot, the photographer held a welder's glass over the lens to protect against the intense light of the sun.
'Friends' from the start – Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey were the best of friends on and off the set, a formula that led "Friends" to become one of the most successful TV shows of all time. The show premiered in September 1994 and nearly 10 years later, 52.5 million viewers tuned in to the show's 2004 series finale.
Tickle Me Elmo mania – Going to the mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always dangerous, but never more so than during the 1996 holiday season, when a wiggling, chuckling, red doll triggered never-before-seen delirium. Tickle Me Elmo retailed for around $30, but the fuzzy toys sold for thousands on the secondary market. Stampeding shoppers even injured a few store employees trying to get their hands on one.
Yeltsin dances toward re-election – At a rock concert, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who became the country's first popularly elected leader in 1991, boogies with band members during his campaign for re-election on June 10, 1996. Despite suffering multiple heart attacks in the lead-up to the '96 election, Yeltsin won. He resigned three years later, paving the way for Vladimir Putin's rise to power.
Kerri Strug vaults US gymnastics to gold – For those who remember the 1996 Olympic Games, Kerri Strug's name will forever be synonymous with one word: courage. After injuring her ankle on her first attempt, Kerri Strug needed to stick one final vault to clinch the US' first team gymnastics gold. And she did just that, landing on one foot, before being carried to receive her gold medal by her coach, Bela Karolyi.
American royalty – In a small ceremony on Georgia's secluded Cumberland Island, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette exchanged vows to become husband and wife on September 21, 1996. Shown leaving the chapel where they were wed, their marriage was the culmination of a courtship that fascinated the press and American public for years.
Genocide, then exodus from Rwanda – In 1994, violence erupted in Rwanda in horrifying fashion, as Hutu extremists slaughtered an estimated 800,000 people in just 100 days. The impacts of the genocide rippled across the country for years. This Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken by photographer Martha Rial in December 1996 captured hundreds of Rwandan Hutu refugees migrating with as much as they could carry after they were turned back by Tanzanian soldiers.
The 'rat trick' – Hockey fans have some strange traditions (See: throwing octopi on the ice), but during the Florida Panthers' 1996 run to the Stanley Cup finals, a new one was born. After the Panthers' Scott Mellanby allegedly killed a rat with his stick and then scored twice with the same stick, Panthers fans began celebrating goals by hurling hundreds of plastic rats onto the ice.
Albanian exodus – After decades under a Communist regime, Albania pivoted toward democracy under then-President Ramiz Alia. But the transition did not go smoothly, and Alia's government made a swift descent toward anarchy in 1991. Here, thousands of desperate Albanian refugees are shown packed into the harbor of Brindisi in southern Italy, fleeing the chaos at home.
Creation of the European Union – In the '90s, there was little talk of Brexit or the rise of nationalism, only unity in Europe. In 1993, the Maastricht Treaty went into effect, creating the European Union and granting all citizens of the union's member states EU citizenship. Here, in 1996, a group of European conservatives meet to discuss the Maastricht Treaty and creation of a unified army.
Albright breaks a glass ceiling – Madeleine Albright -- shown testifying on Capitol Hill on January 8, 1997, at a Senate hearing -- served as the US ambassador to the United Nations, before she was unanimously confirmed as the country's first female secretary of state.
Man versus machine – Though considered by many to be the greatest human chess player of all-time, Garry Kasparov found he was no match for his machine rival: IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer. As fans looked on, Kasparov holds his head in his hands at the start of his final match on May 11, 1997, which he lost in 19 moves to give Deep Blue victory in the six-match series.
Exploring the 'Red Planet' – It was not as celebrated as Neil Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind," but NASA's Pathfinder mission was an equally historic scientific feat. On July 4, 1997, the Pathfinder spacecraft delivered a lander and a robotic rover to the Martian surface for the first time, providing scientists on Earth with a trove of information on Mars' atmosphere, rocks and soil. And while it didn't discover life, Pathfinder gave us the best evidence yet that the planet was once warm and wet.
The 'Bite Fight' – After Evander Holyfield stunned Mike Tyson with an 11th-round TKO in their first matchup, boxing fans were anticipating another fight for the ages in their June 28, 1997, rematch. But the fight took a bizarre and gruesome turn in the third round. After a Holyfield headbutt that gashed Tyson's head, Tyson lost his temper in the third round and bit Holyfield on the ear, tearing off a chunk of the cartilage, leaving the wound shown here. Tyson was disqualified from the fight and later lost his boxing license because of the bite.
The death of Princess Diana – In the early morning hours of August 31, 1997, tragic news shocked the world: Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris, along with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and their driver, Henri Paul. Here, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Charles Spencer (Diana's brother), Prince William and Prince Philip stand as Diana's coffin is taken into Westminster Abbey on September 6, 1997. Diana was beloved around the globe for her charity work, and an estimated 2.5 billion people watched the funeral.
Anglicans allow female priests – At London's St. Paul's Cathedral, the Rev. Katherine Young is shown in 1997 after becoming the first woman to be ordained a priest by the Anglican Church.
Dolly the sheep – Science fiction became reality in December 1997, when scientists at Scotland's Roslin Institute introduced the world to Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep produced from an adult cell. Dolly proved that it was possible to create an exact genetic copy of an animal from one of their specialized cells -- in this case, a mammary gland cell.
'I'm flying, Jack!' – As far as blockbusters go, few have matched the success of 1997's "Titanic." The fictionalized love affair that unfolded between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet aboard the doomed ship was a hit with audiences around the globe, and catapulted DiCaprio to superstardom. It also shattered box office records -- despite its hefty $200 million budget, "Titanic" became the first film to push past the $1 billion mark in gross revenue, and it remains among the highest-grossing movies of all time.
US embassies under attack – Within minutes of each other, bombs exploded outside the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 7, 1998. In this photo of the aftermath of the Nairobi attack, rescue workers lift Susan Francisca Murianki, a US embassy worker, over the rubble of a collapsed building. The terror group al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombings, which left 224 dead and more than 5,000 wounded.
Home run number 70* – In 1998, baseball fans were treated to a home run race unlike anything the sport had seen, with St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire and Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa trading long balls all season as they chased Roger Maris' single-season record of 61 home runs. McGwire is shown after belting his 70th and final home run of the 1998 campaign. But his record was broken three seasons later by Barry Bonds, and like many others who played in the so-called "steroid era," McGwire later admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during the 1998 season.
Ripken's incredible streak ends – Revered as baseball's "Iron Man," Cal Ripken Jr. tips his hat to the fans at Baltimore's Camden Yards after sitting out the Orioles game on September 20, 1998. Ripken's decision not to play brought an end to his streak of 2,632 consecutive games played. The record was previously held by Lou Gehrig, who Ripken surpassed by 501 games.
'... Baby One More Time' – Before Kevin Federline and the shaved head era, Mississippi-born Britney Spears was a talented 17-year-old when she burst on the scene in 1999 with her hit single and album, "Baby One More Time." The album climbed to the top of the US Billboard 200 and made the teenage Spears -- shown during a 1998 photo shoot -- an international superstar.
'Sex and the City' - The first episode of HBO's "Sex and the City" premiered on June 6, 1998. The romantic comedy series showcased single women and their relationships in a way new to television. Sarah Jessica Parker -- first from the left -- starred as the quintessential New York City single girl, Carrie Bradshaw.
'The Great One' retires – After 20 years in the National Hockey League, Wayne Gretzky laced up his skates for the last time on April 18, 1999, in a game that his Rangers lost 2-1 in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gretzky stepped away as the league's all-time leader in points with 2,857, and his number 99 jersey is the only number that has been retired league-wide by the NHL.
Ethnic conflict in the Balkans – Agim Shala, a 2-year-old Kosovar refugee, is passed through a barbed-wire fence and reunited with his grandparents in a refugee camp in Kukes, Albania, on May 3, 1999. Shala's family was one of thousands driven from their homes in Kosovo by the deadly fighting in the Balkans.
Tornadoes tear through the Great Plains – On May 3, 1999, 74 tornadoes touched down across Kansas and Oklahoma, killing 46 people and causing almost $1.5 billion in damage. The strongest tornado to form was an F-5 that ripped through Oklahoma City and its suburbs for nearly an hour and a half. Here, Tammy Holmgren and her daughters seek shelter beneath a roadway as a tornado approaches in the distance. Holmgren and her family were unharmed.
US women are World Cup champs – The 1999 US Women's National Team -- the 99ers, as they were called -- played in front of sold out stadiums during their quest for glory at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. It culminated with Brandi Chastain's penalty kick that clinched the Americans' victory in the World Cup final on July 10, 1999. The ensuing celebration, shown, is among the most famous in sports history.
Tragedy strikes the Kennedys again – While flying from New Jersey to attend a family wedding in July 1999, a plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. crashed several miles off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Three days later, Kennedy's body and that of his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, were found in in the Atlantic Ocean miles offshore. On July 22, 1999, the ashes of all three were scattered at sea during the ceremony shown.