THE EXCITING SIXTIES
A half-century ago, much of the world was in a broad state of change: We were moving out of the post-World War II era, and into both the Cold War and the Space Age, with broadening civil rights movements and anti-nuclear protests in the U.S. In 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly in space, Freedom Riders took buses into the South to bravely challenge segregation, and East Germany began construction of the Berlin Wall. That year, Kennedy gave the okay to the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion into Cuba and committed the U.S. to "landing a man on the Moon" with NASA's Apollo program. JFK also oversaw the early buildup of a U.S. military presence in Vietnam: by the end of 1961, some 2,000 troops were deployed there. Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at my world as it was in the exciting sixties.
Astronaut Alan Shepard, at left, receives a medal from President John F. Kennedy, with fellow astronauts and Vice President Lyndon Johnson looking on in Washington, D.C. in 1961. (AP photo) #
"That sense of freedom had a place and I don't think you can blame the Sixties for what we are like nowadays. "I think that is an excuse for the way things are now and you can't make excuses."Some things may have got out of hand, but it was a time when people became more liberated."It is not true to say it was a time of hedonism. It is not excessive to say that."We were involved where the next generation is headed and we had some patriotic people leading us and we had ideas how to stop government excesses. The Sixties had a lot to offer."
Golden Gate Bridge from Marshall Beach. San Francisco is one of the few truly unique cities in the United States. It could not possibly be mistaken for another city, and its position on the West Coast at the dramatic mouth of a bay gives it an aura unlike any other place I've been. Its hilly topography alone sets it apart, but from its roots as a Spanish mission to the boom of the Gold Rush, right through the mid-20th century San Francisco Renaissance and 1967's Summer of Love, the city has attracted a mix of people that's kept alive a certain frontier spirit that persisted long after it became one of the country's largest urban centers.
1966 Fox Plaza, it stands on the site of the former Fox Theatre, demolished in 1963. I remember walking thru Van Ness and Market St. the strong winds of San Francisco magnified like a wind tunnel. It Acts like a sail, that many times my hat blew away. My recollection about this building were all positive, all the five years of my stay in Highway design and Urban Planning. The first twelve floors contain office space. Unlike many buildings, Fox Plaza has a 13th floor actually labeled "13", although this floor is the service floor and is not rented out. The 14th floor contains a gymnasium and laundry facilities as well as apartments, while floors 15 through 29 are exclusively rental apartments. The main attraction during coffee break was the fashion show atmosphere of beautiful young ladies well chosen by private companies at Fox Plaza to the delight of bachelors like us.
|John F. Kennedy speaks for the first time as President of the United States in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 1961, during the inaugural ceremonies. (AP Photo)|
Singer Bobby Darin stands beside a hand-made automobile called the "Bobby Darin Dream Car," unveiled on March 31, 1961, in Hollywood, California. Owner Andrew Di Dia, who designed and built the $150,000 car, will take it on a nationwide tour. (AP Photo) #
A Jackson Police Department file booking photograph of Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer provided by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, taken on June 8, 1961. 19-year-old Duke University student and part-time secretary in the Washington office of Senator Clair Engle of California, Trumpauer arrived in Jackson, Mississippi to take part in the June 4, 1961 Mississippi Freedom Ride. She and eight others were promptly arrested and refused bail. Trumpauer served three months in jail, later enrolling in traditionally black Tougaloo college, which had just started accepting white students. (AP Photo/Mississippi Department of Archives and History, City of Jackson, File) #
British rock and roll singer John Lennon of the Beatles arrives in an armored car before a concert in Houston, Tex., on Aug. 19, 1965. Screaming fans surrounded the group from the moment their plane arrived in Houston for radio station KILT's "Back to School Show" at Sam Houston Coliseum. (AP Photo/Ferd Kaufman) #