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

  • Andrea Spinelli / Corbis via Getty

    A World Without People

    For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have abandoned many places around the world.

  • Dan Mullan / Getty

    Baku 2017: The Islamic Solidarity Games

    For the past 10 days in Baku, Azerbaijan, 6,000 athletes from 54 nations competed in 21 sports during the fourth iteration of the Islamic Solidarity Games.

  • Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    The Finale of 'The Greatest Show on Earth'

    After a run of 146 years, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, known as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” has come to an end.

  • Pascal Pochard-Casabianca / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 5/13–5/19

    The world’s fastest shed in Wales, France welcomes a new president, a portrait of the late singer Chris Cornell on stage in Atlanta, a new eruption of Mount Sinabung, and much more.

Join the Discussion