50 Years Ago: The Cuban Missile Crisis

On October 15, 1962, a group of CIA analysts assigned to review aerial photographs of Cuba identified several newly established Soviet medium-range ballistic missile installations -- bases within 100 miles of the United States. The State Department was notified that night, and President John F. Kennedy was briefed the next morning, setting in motion a crisis that brought the world frighteningly close to nuclear war. The U.S. considered options, deployed troops and weapons to Florida, confronted the Soviets at the UN, and shortly set up a naval blockade of Cuba. For 13 tense days, the crisis deepened and people around the world feared the very real possibility of a new, horrific worldwide conflict. On October 27, the U.S. and Soviets reached a secret agreement, where Kennedy would order the removal of missiles in southern Italy and Turkey, and Khrushchev would remove all missiles in Cuba. Over the following weeks, U.S. forces monitored the departure of 42 missiles aboard eight Soviet ships, and the crisis was averted. Gathered here are a few glimpses from those tense Cold War days, as the world approached, then retreated from, the brink of destruction.

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

Most Recent

  • Peter Morgan / Reuters

    Photos: 15 Years Since the 2003 Northeast Blackout

    On August 14, 2003, more than 50 million people across eight U.S. states and parts of Canada were left without power for days in the most widespread blackout in North American history.

  • FTCS (SS) Bob Nguyen / U.S. Navy

    Photos of the Week: Robot Cat, Purple Water, Tunnel of Love

    Missiles fly between Israel and Gaza, dizzying views in Hong Kong, a migrant family is reunited in Guatemala, a boisterous rodeo in Australia, wildfires intensify in California, and much more.

  • Tatan Syuflana / AP

    Images From the Lombok Island Earthquake

    On the Indonesian island of Lombok, near Bali, at least 250 deaths and many hundreds of injuries have been reported, and tens of thousands have been left homeless.

  • Bettmann / Getty

    Historic Cat Photos on International Cat Day

    Fashions and technologies may change over time, but cats never go out of style.