50 Years Ago: The World in 1961

A half-century ago, much of the world was in a broad state of change: We were moving out of the post-World War II era, and into both the Cold War and the Space Age, with broadening civil rights movements and anti-nuclear protests in the U.S. In 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly in space, Freedom Riders took buses into the South to bravely challenge segregation, and East Germany began construction of the Berlin Wall. That year, Kennedy gave the okay to the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion into Cuba and committed the U.S. to "landing a man on the Moon" with NASA's Apollo program. JFK also oversaw the early buildup of a U.S. military presence in Vietnam: by the end of 1961, some 2,000 troops were deployed there. Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at the world as it was in 1961.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more
Back

Whitelist

Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Back

Please follow the steps below

Most Recent

  • Gregorio Borgia / AP

    An Earthquake in Central Italy Topples Buildings, Killing Dozens

    Central Italy was struck by a powerful, shallow, 6.2-magnitude earthquake at 3:36 am local time, devastating several mountain villages, and resulting in at least 73 deaths so far.

  • Francois-Xavier Marit / AFP / Getty

    Rio 2016: Photos From the Final Weekend

    Today’s final entry encompasses rhythmic gymnastics, wrestling, triathlon, mountain biking, canoe, modern pentathlon, soccer, the Closing Ceremony, and much more.

  • Mark Havens

    Mesmerizing Motels of the Atomic Age

    An homage to the distinctive and disappearing architecture of a bygone era

  • Noah Berger / AP

    Photos of the Week: 8/13-8/19

    A sunset over Egypt, a moonrise over Syria, a nude statue of Donald Trump, floods in Louisiana, fires in California, Olympics in Rio, a new airship makes its maiden flight, and much more.

Join the Discussion