A half-century ago, the space race was heating up and the Cold War was freezing over. Soviet missile bases discovered in Cuba triggered a crisis that brought the U.S. to the brink of war with the U.S.S.R. Civil rights activists won hard-earned victories against segregationists in the American South, and John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Algeria gained independence from France and the U.S. slowly escalated its involvement in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Seattle held a World's Fair called the the Century 21 Exposition, celebrating the themes of space, science, and the future. Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at the world as it was in 1962.
Aerial view of the Space Needle and surrounding area in Seattle in 1962. The Century 21 Exposition, also called the Seattle World's Fair, was held from April 21, 1962, to October 21, 1962. This year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary, the iconic Space Needle was once again painted in its original "Galaxy Gold".
Dr. John W. Mauchly, inventor of some of the original room-size electronic computers, poses in Washington, DC, on November 2, 1962 with one the size of a suitcase after addressing a meeting of the American Institute of Industrial Engineers. He now is working on a pocket variety which, he says, may eliminate the housewife's weekly shopping list and the chore of filling it by hand. He predicted everyone will be walking around with his own personalized computer within a decade.
(AP Photo/Byron Rollins)
Donald Campbell's rebuilt Bluebird, the car in which he plans to make an attempt on the world land speed record on Lake Eyre, Australia, in Spring 1963 on show to the public for the first time as he drives it round the Goodwood Circuit, on July 14, 1962 at the Goodwood Festival of Motoring in Sussex, England. In 1964, Campbell set a record of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h).
In this August 1962 file photo shot by Associated Press photographer Horst Faas, a South Vietnamese soldier holds a cocked pistol as he questions two suspected Viet Cong guerrillas captured in a weed-filled marsh in the southern delta region. The prisoners were searched, bound and questioned before being marched off to join other detainees. Faas, a prize-winning combat photographer who carved out new standards for covering war with a camera and became one of the world's legendary photojournalists in nearly half a century with The Associated Press, died on May 10, 2012 at the age of 79. Please see the NYT's "Horst Faas: A Last Hurrah").
(AP Photo/Horst Faas)
A U.S. crewman runs from a crashed CH-21 Shawnee troop helicopter near the village of Ca Mau in the southern tip of South Vietnam, on December 11, 1962. Two helicopters crashed without serious injuries during a government raid on the Viet Cong-infiltrated area. Both helicopters were destroyed to keep them out of enemy hands.
(AP Photo/Horst Faas)
Cattle walking the last mile to this slaughterhouse are treated to this dazzling, but incongruous display of light before the end in Gross-Umstadt near Darmstadt, West Germany, on November 29, 1962. The chandelier came from a nearby factory that didn't have room to assemble it there, so they decided to assemble it in this slaughterhouse. The name of the Arab ruler who ordered the 532 bulb chandelier made up of 200,000 separate parts is a secret. Also, a secret is the price he paid for it.
A French soldier walks past the body of settler killed on Rue D' Isley in Algiers, on March 26, 1962. Another European lies in the background amid debris of the battle that ensued when European settlers, carrying the French tricolor flag, marched on the center of town in response to a call by the terrorist secret army organization. The French armed forces forcibly dispersed the riot. Some sources estimate the result at 31 dead and 130 wounded.
Britain's Mike Hailwood, winner of the 350 cc Junior Tourist Trophy race, roars round Creg-Ny-Baa corner on his second lap round the Isle of Man circuit in the United Kingdom, on June 6, 1962. Riding an Italian MV Augusta machine, Hailwood's average speed for the 6-lap, 226.4 mile race was 99.95 mph.
Evidence presented by the U.S. Department of Defense, of Soviet missiles in Cuba. This low level photo, made October 23, 1962, of the medium range ballistic missile site under construction at Cuba's San Cristobal area. A line of oxidizer trailers is at center. Added since October 14, the site was earlier photographed, are fuel trailers, a missile shelter tent, and equipment. The missile erector now lies under canvas cover. Evident also is extensive vehicle trackage and the construction of cable lines to control areas.
Aerial picture taken 09 November 1962 on the Cuban coast of the Soviet freighter "Anosov" carrying missiles in accordance with the US-Soviet agreement on the withdrawal of the Russian Missiles from Cuba. American planes and helicopters fly in at a low-level to keep close check on the dismantling and loading operations, while US warships watch over Soviet freighters carrying missiles back to Soviet Union.
Father Luis Manuel Padilla holds a wounded government rifleman shot down in the streets of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, during a bloody revolt against President Betancourt in June 1962. More than 200 were killed before rebels were beaten. This photo won the Pulitzer Prize for Hector Rondon.
(AP Photo/Hector Rondon)
Three NASA personnel suited in space-flight restraining gear prepare to climb aboard the Apollo Spacecraft April 6, 1962. This preliminary mock-up model was placed on display April 6, 13 feet wide and 12 feet high, this command module will be the most complex manned flight device ever designed and built for earth orbit and lunar landing.
Police and Guatemalan student demonstrators battle in street over possession of a Guatemalan flag as a terrified student, left, runs away, on March 16, 1962 in Guatemala City. Similar clashes occurred throughout the day in this riot torn city. Students were protesting the conservative government of Miguel Ydigoras.
Parents of students picket Glenfield Junior High School in Montclair, New Jersey, to dramatize their effort to improve education for the school's students, 90 percent of whom are African-American, in Montclair, New Jersey, prior to the school board's decision on August 22, 1962 to divide Glenfield's 182 students among the wealthy suburb's three other high schools.
A workman removes a restroom sign at Montgomery Municipal Airport, on January 5, 1962, in compliance with a federal court order banning segregation. However, city officials delayed plans to remove waiting room furniture and close toilets and water fountains. But they said these and the airport restaurant will be closed if there is a concerted integration attempt.
An African American and a white girl study a sign in the integrated Long Island community of Lakeview, New York, on April 1962. It reads "Negroes! This community could become another ghetto. You owe it to your 'family' to buy in another community." The sign was an attempt to keep African Americans from exceeding the number of whites who want to live in an integrated town.
Chief U.S. Marshal James McShane, left, and an unidentified marshal at right escort James Meredith, center with briefcase, to the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Mississippi, on October 2, 1962. Meredith, was the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi after integration.