The 1960s witnessed some of the most iconic moments in modern history. In a single decade, we saw revolutions start and geniuses come and go. We also were able to see some of the most incredible feats in human achievement that would go on to define our lives to this very day.
Here are some of our favorite interesting facts about the 1960s in America.
1) A Giant Leap for Mankind
This is, without a doubt, near or at the top of every list of facts about the 1960s. On 20 July 1969, the human race defied the odds by stepping foot on the moon. The honor of being the first one, of course, goes to Neil Armstrong. He marked the momentous occasion with his famous line, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
2) An Iconic Hollywood Tradition Began
Although it feels like they were part of Hollywood ever since it began, the famous stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame weren’t actually there until the 1960s. The honor of being the first actress to be placed on the Walk goes to Joanne Woodward.
3) The Flintstones Debuted
One of the most recognized kids’ cartoons of all time, The Flintstones, debuted during the 1960s. The Hanna-Barbera production became the second-most-successful and longest-running cartoon series in television history, behind only The Simpsons.
4) Roger Maris, Record Breaker
Babe Ruth’s all-time high record of 60 home runs in a season remained a lofty goal until Roger Maris of the New York Yankees beat it. He hit his 61st home run on the last game of the 1961 season, officially topping Ruth’s record.
5) Julia Child Became a Household Hit
The culinary world would never be the same after this 1960s fun fact. The decade saw Julia Child publish her now-legendary cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It became a best-seller for the next five years and helped Child establish herself as a culinary icon. She also had her own TV show, The French Chef, in 1962.
6) Martin Luther King Jr. Delivered a Famous Speech
One of the most significant historical moments of the 1960s was Martin Luther King Jr. speaking before a crowd of 250,000 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 1963. That speech, known as the “I Have a Dream’ speech, marked a turning point in the civil rights movement in America. It’s one of the most iconic speeches in American history.
7) President Kennedy Was Assassinated
Maybe the most well-known 1960 historical fact is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald on 22 November 1963. Just three years earlier, JFK won the presidential election against Richard Nixon. He holds the distinction of being the youngest person ever elected president.
8) Beatlemania Arrived in the U.S.
This 1960s fun fact marks the beginning of a musical craze in the U.S. On 9 February 1964, the Beatles first performed before a U.S. audience on the Ed Sullivan Show. They pulled in an incredible 75 million viewers, roughly three-fourths of the total audience in America at the time.
9) A Boxing Legend Was Born
If we were to compile a sports-focused list of 10 facts about the 1960s, the date 25 February 1964 would surely top it. It was when Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston and became the heavyweight champion of the world. Less than a month later, Clay would rename himself as Muhammad Ali.
10) A Famous Landmark Was Built
It’s hard to imagine the city of St. Louis without it; that’s why this 1960s fact might come as a surprise to most Americans. The famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis wasn’t finished until halfway through the 1960s, on 28 October 1965.
11) Woodstock Happened
Although actually held 40 miles southwest of Woodstock, on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, the Woodstock Rock Festival on 15-18 August 1969 brought together more than 400,000 fans to hear some of the greatest rock music every played, and to enjoy “3 Days of Peace & Music.”
12) An Important Science Fiction Achievement
One of the most significant movie facts about the 60s is the debut of Stanley Kubrick’s ambitious space film 2001: A Space Odyssey. While not well-received at the time, it eventually earned the status of many critics’ “Best Films Ever Made” lists.
13) Defining the Childhood of an Entire Generation
On 10 November 1969, Sesame Street debuted on American television. The groundbreaking children’s show featured a combination of live actors, puppets, and animation. It has since touched the lives of more than 80 million children, and continues to be watched in households across America to this very day.
14) Andy Warhol Rocked the Art World
In 1961, then commercial artist Andy Warhol first exhibited his works at the New York department store Bonwit Teller. This event marked a turning point for Warhol and helped put him at the forefront of the avant-garde art movement in the U.S.
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