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 ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Leon Neal / Getty

    Scenes From Glastonbury 2022

    Images from this year’s Glastonbury Festival—back after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus

  • Peter Zay / Anadolu Agency / Getty

    Photos: Protests Against the Overturning of Roe

    Images of protest from Houston, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Raleigh, St. Louis, Portland, New York, Nashville, and many other locations

  • Cesar Manso / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Stonehenge Solstice, Boxing Record, Torch Battle

    Seahorse collection in Brazil, a heat wave in Texas, bison-watching in Yellowstone National Park, a swimming competition in Budapest, an earthquake in Afghanistan, and much more

  • Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty

    Photos From the 2022 Westminster Dog Show

    Images of the dogs and their handlers during the annual competition and preliminary activities