From pop culture to politics, here are 50 captivating moments in American history.
Free at Last
Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, salute a cheering crowd on February 11, 1990—the day he was released after spending 27 years in prison. Four years later, Mandela would be elected president of South Africa.
Marilyn Monroe at Madison Square Garden
Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday" to John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in 1962.
The Death of John Lennon
A crowd forms around New York's Dakota building, where John Lennon was assasinated on December 8, 1980.
Civil rights activists Julia Aaron and David Dennis sit aboard an interstate bus as they and 25 other Freedom Riders are escorted by National Guardsmen from Montgomery, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1961.
The Iran Hostage Crisis
A blindfolded hostage, one of 66 Americans held captive after supporters of Iran's Islamic Revolution took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979.
The Day Nixon Resigned
President Richard Nixon makes his trademark V sign on a less than victorious day—August 9, 1974—just after resigning from office because of the Watergate scandal.
The 1973 Oil Crisis
Cars line up at a Brooklyn service station after the OPEC oil embargo led to skyrocketing gas prices and widespread fuel shortages.
Remembering Princess Diana
Prince Charles and his sons, William and Harry, view the tributes at Kensington Palace after Lady Diana's death in 1997.
Off-Duty at Disneyland
Disney's original theme park was just six years old when this behind-the-scenes photo in a Disneyland employee cafeteria was snapped in 1961.
Elvis' Surprise Visit to the White House
In the Oval Office with President Nixon on December 21, 1970.
The Berlin Wall
An East German border guard passes a flower through a gap in the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the month the wall fell..
Simon & Garfunkel's Central Park Reunion
A half-million fans turned out to hear Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel perform together for the first time in a decade on September 19, 1981. It was the largest crowd ever to attend a concert in Central Park.
The Rwandan Genocide
Children crowd around a French solider at a Tutsi refugee camp during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Apollo 13 Returns
Lunar module pilot Fred W. Haise Jr. waits to be hoisted up to a recovery helicopter after the aborted Apollo 13 mission—intended to be a third landing on the moon—ended with a splashdown in the South Pacific.
The Blackout of 1977
New Yorkers take to the streets during a two-day power outage in July 1977. The electricity blackout led to widespread looting throughout the city.
Promoted as "2 More Days of Peace and Music," this festival marked the 25th anniversary of the original Woodstock with performances by artists including Joe Cocker, Santana and Crosby, Stills & Nash, who were joined on stage by John Sebastian.
Mount St. Helens Erupts
Triggered by an earthquake, the 1980 eruption of the volcano in Washington State caused the death of 57 people.
'I Have a Dream'
The statue of Abraham Lincoln seems to look on as Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his most famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
Three Mile Island
An aerial view of the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania, the site of a partial meltdown on March 28, 1979. It remains the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.
The Closing of Alcatraz
The last prisoners to be held on Alcatraz Island file out as the federal penitentiary, known informally as The Rock, closes in 1963.
Kennedy and Nixon Debate
Jackie Kennedy watches from backstage as her husband debates Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the first-ever televised presidential debate in 1960.
The State Funeral of President Kennedy
The body of John F. Kennedy — the last president to die in office — lies in state in the U.S. Capitol on November 24, 1963, two days after he was assassinated.
A young Adolf Hitler cheers during a World War I rally in 1914. German historians have concluded that this photo was likely doctored by the Nazi party in 1932. It was published the day before the presidential election, amid questions about Hitler's patriotism.
The End of World War II
German POWs watch footage of concentration camps shown to them by their American captors in 1945.
The models for Grant Wood's famous 1930 painting "American Gothic" — the artist's sister and their dentist — visit the work they inspired.
Norman Rockwell's "After the Prom" (1957) and the photographic study that preceded it.
Titanic's Maiden Voyage
The British ocean liner embarks on its fateful trip in April 1912. This is the last known photo of Titanic above water.
The Tip of the Iceberg
This is the iceberg widely believed to have sunk the Titanic on April 15, 1912. The smudges on the side are red and black paint.
Salvador Dali Bedazzled
The Spanish surrealist kisses Raquel Welch's hand after completing a portrait of her in 1965.
Fidel Castro Subdued
The Cuban dictator enjoys ice cream while visiting a American military camp.
One of only two known photos of the United States Supreme Court in session. It was shot in secret in 1932.
The Treaty of Versailles
Spectators in the Palace of Versailles try to catch a glimpse of the signing of the treaty that marked the end of the war between Germany and the Allied Powers, on June 28, 1919.
The Tiananmen Square Protest
The unknown protestor who came to be known as Tank Man stands his ground in Tiananmen Square, 1989.
Traffic blocks the road near the Brandenburg Gate as Germans cross freely from East to West after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The Empire State Building Opens
Visitors admire the view of downtown Manhattan from the observation deck of the Empire State Building on its opening day — May 1, 1931.
The Birth of a Christmas Tradition
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree makes its debut in 1931.
Welcome to Hollywood
The "Hollywoodland" sign first appeared in 1923 as an advertisement for a housing development in the Hollywood Hills. Its last four letters — L-A-N-D — were removed in 1949 so that the sign would refer to the neighborhood rather than the development.
The Caped Crusader
"Batman and Robin," a 15-part serial to be shown in movie theaters, is filmed in 1949.
The MGM Lion
Leo the Lion gets ready for his close-up as the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer mascot is filmed for the studio's iconic logo in 1929.
The Beatles shoot the cover for their 1967 album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
Revelers rest after celebrating VJ Day — August 14, 1945 — in New York.
War Is Over
American soldiers celebrate the news of Japan's surrender in 1945.
The back of Hoover Dam, the last time it would be seen, in 1936, before it became submerged in water.
Walking the Golden Gate Bridge
Foot traffic on opening day — May 27, 1937.
The Death of Gandhi
Mourners climb high to view the funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
African-Americans demonstrate against the Vietnam War during a 1967 peace march in Harlem, New York.
Breaking the Gender Barrier
Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon, keeps running, despite a race organizer's attempt to stop her in 1967.
After the Moonwalk
Neil Armstrong smiles for Buzz Aldrin's camera, moments after his "one small step" on July 20, 1969.
Vietnam War Protests
Police search anti-war activists before sending them on a bus to jail for taking over the University of Michigan's LSCA Building in September 1969.
Crowds gather at Woodstock Festival in Bethel, New York, for "three days of peace and music" in August 1969.
Fresh perspectives on aging in films that are genuinely moving or funny—and often both
Hit singles of the '70s and early '80s that had only one mission—to make you get up and dance
The Backwoods Barbie who became a country-pop icon
Major stars whose performances landed on the cutting room floor
Long-running shows that went out with a bang
The best of the blues-rock legend who gave up a piece of her heart with every song