Summer of ’69 Timeline

May 24, 2019
Woodstock crowd. Gift of James Shelley. © The Museum at Bethel

Woodstock crowd. Gift of James Shelley. © The Museum at Bethel

THIRTEEN Celebrates the Summer of ’69: 50 Years Later is a multiplatform experience celebrating the golden anniversaries of pivotal moments in U.S. history. Our major broadcasts center on the Stonewall uprising in New York City and the LBGTQ fight for civil rights, the world-riveting Apollo 11 moon mission, and the legendary Woodstock music festival in Bethel, NY.

Our Summer of 1969 Timeline highlights key moments for both the nation and New York City. Dive deeper with the videos and links below to learn more. See all our Summer of ’69 programming here.

May 5, 1969
N. Scott Momaday awarded Pulitzer Prize for Literature

N. Scott Momaday awarded Pulitzer Prize for Literature

The Kiowa author becomes the first American Indian to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for House Made of Dawn. In May 2019, he received the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize. This fall, watch the premiere of American Masters — N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear on PBS.

May 5, 1969Learn More  
PHOTO: N Scott Momaday at his mother's desk. Courtesy: N. Scott Momaday
May 1969
City College protests

City College protests

The City University of New York closes down after coalitions of African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and others at the City College of New York protested and occupied campuses to advocate for open admissions for NYC high school graduates, support for low-income students and a new Black and Puerto Rican Studies Department. The latter two objectives were established in September 1969.

PHOTO: May 1969. Unknown, “Five Demands,” CUNY Digital History Archive, accessed May 20, 2019, http://cdha.cuny.edu/items/show/6952
May 23, 1969
The Who releases <em>Tommy</em>

The Who releases Tommy

The British band The Who releases the double album rock opera Tommy, featuring songs like "Pinball Wizard." The Tommy tour stop includes Woodstock in August.

May 23, 1969Learn More  
PHOTO: The Who, performing in Chicago, 1975. L to r: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend. Photo: Jim Summaria.
May 25, 1969

"Midnight Cowboy" released

The first wide-release, X-rated film is "Midnight Cowboy," starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman and directed by John Schlesinger, who was openly gay. The Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Director is set in New York City and includes the line, “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” – which "Ratso" Rizzo yells when a cab nearly hits him in a crosswalk. It is a rare film of its era for gay intimacy.

May 25, 1969
June 6, 1969
Joe Namath briefly retires from football.

Joe Namath briefly retires from football.

The New York Jets won Super Bowl III in January. The team's MVP quarterback briefly retired rather than comply with the NFL request that he give up his stake in a bar, Bachelors III, in New York City's Upper East Side.

June 6, 1969Read More  
PHOTO: The bar Bachelor III in New York City. Joe Namath was once a part-owner.
June 8, 1969

Nixon and the Vietnam War

President Nixon announces the withdrawal of 25,000 U.S. troops from Vietnam.

June 1969
El Museo del Barrio founded in NYC

El Museo del Barrio founded in NYC

Founded by artist Raphael Montañez Ortíz and a coalition of Puerto Rican educators, artists, and activists, the museum is initially conceived to highlight Puerto Rican art and culture within the NYC public school system, later expanding to include the cultural contributions of Latinos and Latin Americans in the United States.

PHOTO: Museum Director Marta Moreno Vega. Photo: Hiram Maristany and José Gomez, Quimbamba: Bilingual Education Quarterly, New York: El Museo del Barrio, January 1973
June 15, 1969

"Hee Haw" debuts on CBS

The country music variety show hosted by Roy Clark and Buck Owens debuts and doesn’t end its initial run until 1993. Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride are guests on the first episode.

June 15, 1969Roy Clark interview 
PHOTO: Roy Clark interview with PBS station OETA.
June 17, 1969
Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin cut from Mayoral Race

Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin cut from Mayoral Race

The NYC mayoral campaign of author Norman Mailer and newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin (who ran for City Council President) ends with the primary vote; the ticket finishes second to last with 5% of the city vote (41,288 votes). Their platform was "New York City: the 51st State," proposing that it secede from New York State.

PHOTO: Handbill for Mailer-Breslin New York City Mayoral Campaign, 1969
June 22, 1969
Judy Garland Dies

Judy Garland Dies

The singer and actress introduced as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and famous for her film career and concert appearances, dies at age 47 in London. Learn about her life in this video segment filmed at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

June 22, 1969Watch Video 
PHOTO: Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz film.
June 22, 1969
The Cuyahoga River Fire

The Cuyahoga River Fire

The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland Ohio flows into Lake Erie. On this day, the river – filled with oil and toxic chemicals – burst into flames. It's considered a key moment in the environmental movement.

June 22, 1969Watch Video 
June 27, 1969
The Faces of the American Dead in Vietnam

The Faces of the American Dead in Vietnam

Life Magazine publishes photographs of 241 Americans killed in Vietnam in one week. Some were among the 72 killed (and 372 wounded) at the 10-day battle of Hamburger Hill from May 10-20.

June 27, 1969Watch Video 
PHOTO: Life Magazine feature on soldiers killed in Vietnam in one week.
June 28, 1969
Stonewall riots begin

Stonewall riots begin

In the early morning hours, gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, fought back against a police raid. This was a first-time and spontaneous uprising (police raids of gay establishments were frequent). The riots unfolded over six consecutive nights.

PHOTO: Still image from Stonewall riots.
July 4, 1969
Last Annual Reminder in Philadelphia

Last Annual Reminder in Philadelphia

This annual July 4 protest for equal rights for gay people takes place for the last time at Independence Hall. The Annual Meeting was first organized in 1965 by Craig L. Rodwell, founder of the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City.

PHOTO: Jack Nichols pickets Independence Hall at the first Annual Reminder in Philadelphia, July 4, 1965.
July 7, 1969

"Give Peace a Chance" released

The anti-war song by John Lennon, performed with his wife Yoko Ono, is released by the Plastic Ono Band in the U.S. It is Lennon’s first solo single while a member of the Beatles. It became an anthem of protests against the Vietnam War.

July 7, 1969Watch Video 
PHOTO: 1969 recording of "Give Peace a Chance."
July 11, 1969
David Bowie releases

David Bowie releases "Space Oddity"

The single by glam rock icon David Bowie is released to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon mission. In 2013, a NASA astronaut on the International Space Station made a music video cover of it.

July 11, 1969 Watch NASA cover  
PHOTO: David Bowie's "Space Oddity" video from 1972, by Mick Rock.
July 12, 1969
<em>Aretha's Gold</em> is released

Aretha's Gold is released

All but two tracks of Aretha Franklin's first greatest hits album is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City. The Queen of Soul's tracks include "Respect," "Dr. Feelgood," "Think" and more.

July 16, 1969
Apollo 11 launch

Apollo 11 launch

The first of six American lunar missions is launched from Cape Kennedy in Florida. NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins are aboard Apollo 11.

July 20, 1969
Moon landing

Moon landing

Apollo 11 lands on the moon, fulfilling a pledge made by the late President John F. Kennedy. Mission commander Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon.

July 24, 1969
Apollo 11 returns to Earth

Apollo 11 returns to Earth

The Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia" brought man to the moon and back. The successful mission ends when the module lands in the Pacific Ocean, 15 miles from the recovery ship and 950 miles from Honolulu, Hawaii.

PHOTO: The Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia."
July 26, 1969
Johnny Cash releases “A Boy Names Sue”

Johnny Cash releases “A Boy Names Sue”

Written by Shel Silverstein, Cash recorded this song at San Quentin Prison in February. After releasing the live single July, it rose to the top of the Billboard country chart and was number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, after "Honky Tonk Women."

August 9-10, 1969

The Manson murders

Actress Sharon Tate and seven others are killed in Los Angeles by Charles Manson and his cult followers.

August 9-10, 1969Learn more  
August 13, 1969
NYC tickertape parade for astronauts

NYC tickertape parade for astronauts

Four million people lined Broadway, from the tip of Manhattan north to 42nd Street and eastward to celebrate the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. On the same day, the Apollo 11 crew continued to Chicago and Los Angeles. See the 8mm home video made in NYC, or click for the reporting for ABC by Peter Jennings.

August 14, 1969

British troops sent to Northern Ireland

After clashes between police and Catholic residents in Northern Ireland, more than 300 British troops are ordered into a Londonderry neighborhood. The temporary assignment and violence escalated and stretched into the decades-long "Troubles," until the peace agreement of 1989. British troops remained until 2007.

August 14, 1969See photos from 1969  
August 14, 1969

The Miracle Mets

Future Hall of Fame pitchers Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver lead the New York Mets in a comeback that builds to winning baseball's World Series in the fall. The Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles.

August 14, 1969
August 15-18, 1969
Woodstock Music Festival

Woodstock Music Festival

Nearly 400,000 people attend this chaotic music festival held in a farm field in Bethel, NY. Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Sly and the Family Stone and more perform.

August 17, 1969
Hurricane Camille

Hurricane Camille

The Category 5 storm with winds up to 190 miles per hour kills more than 250 people in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Virginia. NASA delays the Apollo 12 mission, distributes aid in Mississippi and turns a facility into a homeless shelter. Watch a 1969 FEMA film about preparations for the storm and its devastating aftermath.

August 17, 1969Watch Video 
August 19-21, 1969
Miles Davis records <em>Bitches Brew</em> album

Miles Davis records Bitches Brew album

The jazz trumpeter records his groundbreaking album over the course of three days. Released in 1970, it becomes his first gold album, known for innovations in rhythm and studio effects. In 2020, American Masters—Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool will premiere on PBS.

August 19-21, 1969Learn more about the film  
September 2, 1969

First ATM in U.S.

Chemical Bank installs the first ATM in the U.S. at its branch in Rockville Center, in Long Island's Nassau County.

September 2, 1969
September 2, 1969
Ho Chi Minh Dies

Ho Chi Minh Dies

Ho Chi Minh was the president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and one of its founders. His leadership for Vietnamese independence began when he led Communist Vietnamese forces in the Anti-French Resistance War (First Indochina War) in the 1940s.

September 2, 1969
PHOTO: Hồ Chí Minh meets a North Vietnamese circus troupe after their performance at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, 1967
September 26, 1969
A new home for Dance Theatre of Harlem

A new home for Dance Theatre of Harlem

New York City Ballet icon Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook found Dance Theatre of Harlem, a ballet company and school, in early 1969. Mitchell premieres his first ballet, "Ode to Otis," in February. In late September, the company moves from a garage on 152nd Street to the Church of the Master at 86 Morningside Avenue at 122nd Street, where it remained until September 1971. The company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

PHOTO: Dance Theatre of Harlem founder Arthur Mitchell at Church of the Masters, 1970. Photo: Marbeth.