In 1969, 400,000 people descended on the tiny town of Bethel, New York for the Woodstock Music Festival. The festival ran from Aug. 15-18, and featured dozens of musical acts including The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. Today, it stands out as one of the shining cultural moments of the 1960s, but attempts to replicate it have fallen flat.Ralph Ackerman/Getty Images
Martin Luther King Jr. stands before a crowd of 250,000 people during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. There, King would give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, in which he called on Americans to not judge others "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."AFP/Getty Images
On July 16, 1945, the world changed forever. That day, the American army conducted a nuclear test code-named "Trinity," which produced the first-ever nuclear detonation.
Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called "father of the atomic bomb," described his state of mind following the explosion, later saying:
"We knew the world would not be the same... I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita: 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another."Wikimedia Commons
In one of the most famous American history photos, 11 construction workers casually enjoy lunch 850 feet above New York City in 1932. The photo was, in fact, a publicity shot for the new Rockefeller Center. But in the Depression years, it also provided a spark of joy and inspiration to a beleaguered nation. Wikimedia Commons
As the fight for LGTBQ rights ramped up in the 1970s, many parents wanted to show their support. Here, a number of proud parents demonstrate alongside their LGBTQ children at the Gay Pride parade in New York City on June 30, 1974. Bettmann via Getty Images
"Oh the humanity!"
So cried radio reporter Herbert Morrison on May 6, 1937, as the zeppelin Hindenburg burst into flames in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The horrific crash, which left dozens dead, ended the hopeful era of zeppelin travel. New York Daily News Archive /Getty Images
Following the shocking assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, his vice president Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One.
Next to him is Kennedy's widow, Jackie Kennedy, who insisted on wearing her bloodstained pink dress. She said, "I want them to see what they have done to Jack.” Wikimedia Commons
A group of people wearing face masks pose in California in 1918, during the second wave of the Spanish Flu. The global pandemic killed at least 50 million people worldwide and 675,000 in the United States.Public Domain
The Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison — arrive in New York City in 1964 for their first U.S. trip. Crowds of hysterical fans followed them everywhere, proving that Beatlemania had officially crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Bettmann/Getty Images
Bessie Coleman had one dream: to fly. Born in poverty in 1892, she attended a French flight school after being told that American schools only accepted white men. Coleman later became a stunt pilot in Europe, hoping to make enough money to open a flight school for Black women in the United States. But she died at 34 when one of her planes suffered a mechanical failure. Wikimedia Commons
Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist known for this theory of relativity, also had a sense of humor. Here, he poses at home in Princeton, New Jersey, wearing a pair of fuzzy slippers. Gillett Griffin/Historical Society of Princeton
One of the first waves of American soldiers make their way toward the beaches of Normandy, France on June, 6, 1944 — D-Day.
D-Day left thousands dead, but helped the Allies break into German-occupied France and became a turning point in World War II.
Robert F. Sargent/United States Coast Guard/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images
For 13 years in the United States, from 1920 to 1933, Americans were barred from buying alcohol. However, Prohibition didn't stop Americans from drinking — in fact, it fed an industry of bootleggers and speakeasies across the country.
Here, New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach watches agents pour illegal alcohol into the sewers, circa 1921. Library of Congress
Though she was born a slave in 1822, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849. She went on to help "conduct" the Underground Railroad to free other slaves — and once told Frederick Douglass that she had “never lost a single passenger.”National Museum of African American History and Culture
Joyous California hippies clap and cheer at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on Dec. 6, 1969. Although the concert itself was a disaster — Rolling Stone called it "rock and roll's all-time worst day" — the hippie movement was alive and well, and lived on into the 1970s. Robert Altman/Getty Images
John Muir, a naturalist known as the "Father of the National Parks" saw exploring nature as a near-religious experience. He once commented that he disliked the word "hiking" and prefered "sauntering," explaining:
"Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, 'A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them."Library of Congress
American astronaut Buzz Aldrin takes a step on the moon. The moon landing, on July 20, 1969, dazzled Americans back on Earth and promised to usher forward a new era of space travel. Wikimedia Commons
Two lumberjacks pose next to a giant tree in the Pacific Northwest, circa 1915. Public Domain
Originally called the "New York and Brooklyn Bridge" and the "East River Bridge," the iconic Brooklyn Bridge took 13 years to build. When it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Museum of the City of New York
Margaret Hamilton, NASA's lead software engineer for the Apollo program, stands next to binders of her handwritten code. Her work helped put American astronauts safely on the moon in 1969. Wikimedia Commons
On Feb. 23, 1945, a small crowd of U.S. Marines raised the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima in Japan during World War II. Two of the marines were killed just six days later, and a third was killed about a month after the iconic photo was taken. Wikimedia Commons
People flood Times Square in New York City on May 2, 2011, following the news that 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden had been killed.
His death capped a decade-long search by American forces, and represented a moment of catharsis for many New Yorkers. Mario Tama/Getty Images
James Brock, the owner of Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Florida, pours acid into the hotel pool to disperse Black and white protestors. The protestors targeted the Lodge after it refused to serve Martin Luther King Jr. a week earlier, resulting in King's arrest.
The day after this photo was taken, the Senate passed the Civil Rights Act. Wikimedia Commons
This photo, taken in 1913 by photographer Roland Reed and entitled "The Eagle," depicts three members of the Blackfeet Nation in Glacier National Park.
Though the men wear ceremonial clothing, Native American tribes across the country were pressured to "assimilate" completely. Public Domain
In an image seen around the world, Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise a fist into the air on Oct. 16, 1968. They raised their fists as the American national anthem played, and many took it as a "Black Power" gesture. However, Smith later said it was more of a "human rights" salute. Public Domain
Fourteen-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio screams after the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students at Kent State on May 4, 1970, killing four and wounding nine. The troops had descended on campus to oversee a protest against an escalation in the Vietnam War.
When they opened fire, they struck — and killed — a number of students who were not protesting but merely watching on their way between classes. John Paul Filo/Library of Congress
In December 1947, New York City experienced one of its heaviest snowfalls ever. Jubilant New Yorkers came out to play in the snow, including here at Central Park. Bettmann/Getty Images
Members of the Rat Pack — Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop — smile for the camera outside The Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1962. This group of famous friends made a number of movies together, including Ocean's 11, which saw them rob The Sands. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
As World War II raged, the United States called on women to help with pilot shortages. These female pilots, called Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPS, flew B-26 and B-29 bombers among other military aircrafts in non-combat roles.
Here, pilots Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn walk away from a B-17, called Pistol Packin' Mama, circa 1942. National Archives
In one of the most famous American history photos, photographer Dorothea Lange captures the anguish of the Great Depression in the face of one woman in 1936.
The woman, 33-year-old Florence Owens Thompson, looks off into the distance with an expression of worry as her children bury their heads into her shoulders. Library of Congress
Americans were shocked when the New York Times printed this photo of the Battle of Antietam in 1862. The paper wrote that the photo of dead Civil War soldiers on the ground brought "home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war."
By the time the war ended in 1865, some 750,000 Americans had died. Mathew Brady/Library of Congress
The Statue of Liberty's torch has been closed to visitors since 1916, which makes this 1938 photo especially rare.
Workers on the torch balcony scaled the iconic statue for renovations — and snapped this picture while up high. Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
A couple in Penn Station in New York City share a passionate kiss in 1943. The soldier is about to ship off to fight in World War II. Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb at the Albert P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Then the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, the bombing killed 168 people, including 19 children. BOB DAEMMRICH/AFP via Getty Images
Minutes before Jim Thorpe, pictured here on July 23, 1912, was supposed to compete in the Olympics, his shoes went missing. (If you look closely, you can see he's wearing mismatched shoes.)
Thorpe got a too-small shoe from one teammate, and found another in the trash. Nevertheless, he won the gold medal in the decathlon. Wikimedia Commons
Between May 31 and June 1, 1921, fire roared through the largely Black Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A white mob, enraged at accusations that a Black man had attacked a white woman, ransacked the town and terrorized its residents.
The Tulsa Massacre destroyed the Greenwood District and left some 300 people dead.
Library of Congress
U.S. veteran Oliver Sipple, left, lunges at a gunman targeting President Gerald Ford on Sept 22, 1975. Although Sipple saved Ford's life, he was later outed as gay by the national media. The unwanted exposure destroyed his life. Gordon Stone/AP Photo/San Francisco Examiner
Members of the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-Black unit who fought during World War I, pose for the camera. The Hellfighters fought longer than any other unit yet still faced racist Jim Crow laws when they got home. National Archives
President Bill Clinton looks down and grimaces following news that the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to impeach him on Dec. 19, 1998. Though Clinton was later acquitted by the Senate, his impeachment trial captivated the country — especially since it hinged on his affair with a 22-year-old intern. Robert A. Reeder/The The Washington Post via Getty Images
Smoke plumes from the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, were so huge that they could be seen from space. Here, an image from above shows smoke billowing from Lower Manhattan, where two commercial airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers. USGS/EROS
Emmett Till was just 14 years old when white men kidnapped, beat, and killed him in Money, Mississippi, on Aug. 28, 1955. The men were enraged by accusations that Till had accosted a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, who has since recanted her testimony.
Till's mother insisted on an open-casket funeral, and images of Till's disfigured body helped spark the American Civil Rights Movement. Wikimedia Commons
This is "Little Boy," the atomic bomb that the U.S. Army dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in the final days of World War II.
The bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killed 80,000 people, flattened the city, and changed the world forever. U.S. National Archives
On October 11, 1987, AIDS protesters unfurled an astonishing quilt over the National Mall in Washington D.C. The Aids Memorial Quilt contained 1,920 panels, each dedicated to someone who had died of AIDS.
However the death toll from AIDS was much higher. Between 1981 and 1988, more than 40,000 people died of AIDS in the United States.Wikimedia Commons
This Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, "The Soiling of Old Glory," was taken in 1976 during an anti-busing protest in front of Boston City Hall.
It depicts an angry protester, Joseph Rakes, wielding an American flag. Rakes seems ready to impale lawyer Ted Landsmark, who was just passing through on his way to a meeting when he got caught up in the protests. Wikimedia Commons
A gas station displays an apologetic sign during the 1973 oil crisis.
The crisis, which caused lines at gas stations around the country, started when Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States, because of the U.S. support for Israel. U.S National Archives
Though the Lower East Side of Manhattan is an in-demand area today, it was once reserved for immigrants and poor New Yorkers. Here, children sit near the body of a dead horse — not an uncommon sight — in the early 20th century. Wikimedia Commons
On Nov. 4, 2008, Barack Obama became the first Black man to be elected president in U.S. history. He and his family — wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia — greeted supporters in Chicago's Grant Park following the historic election. Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis via Getty Images
The Wright brothers famously flew the first airplane flight on Dec. 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. But it took a lot of trial and error to get them there. Here, Wilbur Wright tests out an early airplane model in 1902. Library of Congress
Movie star Marilyn Monroe poses in 1954 while filming The Seven Year Itch. Monroe, one of the biggest movie stars of her day, embodied stardom and glamour. But she had a difficult life behind the scenes and died of a likely suicide in 1962. AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman
John F. Kennedy Jr. offers a salute to his father's coffin on Nov. 25, 1963. It was also his third birthday. Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
A soldier looks out over the flooded city of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
The hurricane, one of the worst on record, killed between 1,200 and 1,800 people. Many were poor and people of color.U.S. Airforce
Frederick Douglass, a former enslaved person who became an abolitionist, poses for a portrait in 1879. Douglass was a fiery advocate for abolition, once declaring that the "conscience of the nation must be roused... the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced." National Archives
For three years, two railroad companies worked toward each other — one from the east, and one from the west. On May 10, 1869, the two sides triumphantly met in Promontory, Utah.
The completion of the transcontinental railroad marked a new era in American history, where cross country travel became suddenly much easier and more accessible.
Japanese Americans stand near signs in San Francisco, California, announcing that people of Japanese ancestry must relocate to internment camps.
The internment of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans, which lasted from 1942 to 1945, remains a shameful chapter in American history. President Ronald Reagan offered a formal apology in 1988.
War Relocation Authority
President Richard Nixon flashes the v-for-victory sign as he leaves the White House on Aug. 9, 1974.
Following a series of scandals, including the Watergate Hotel break in, Nixon became the first president to resign from office. He handed power to his vice president, Gerald Ford. Wikimedia Commons