The Most Iconic Images Of The 1980s

Published June 28, 2012
Updated February 12, 2018

Iconic Images Of The 1980s: Tank Man, 1989

Iconic Images Of The 1980s Tank Man

The most iconic image of the Tiananmen Square massacre, this picture depicts the important “unknown rebel” standing in front of the tanks that threatened a peaceful protest in China. Jeff Widener snapped this image.

Tear Down This Wall, 1987

Iconic Images Of The 1980s Tear Down This Wall

Speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, this image captures President Reagan making his powerful speech demanding Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Two years later that’s exactly what would happen.

Iconic Images Of The 1980s:Afghan Girl, 1984

Afghan Girl Photograph

National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry shot this iconic image of Sharbat Gula, a 12-year old Afghan girl. She was one of the students in an informal school within the refugee camp and her haunting face, a rarity to be so fully showcased, much less photographed, made it on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. Sharbat’s image captured the imagination of generations the world-over, becoming a symbol of the 1980 Afghan conflict and plight of refugees.

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Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.