The 1970s mean two things to many Americans: the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. Both dominated the front pages of every newspaper in the country for a good part of the early ’70s. American troops left Vietnam in 1973, but the last Americans there were airlifted off the roof of the American Embassy in April 1975 as Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese.
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The Conservatives won more votes than Labour (37.9% of the popular vote to 37.1%), but Labour won more seats (301 to 297). Neither party had achieved an outright majority, resulting in a ‘hung parliament’. The Liberals, with 19.3% and 14 seats, held the balance of power. Edward Heath initially held on to office in the hope of persuading the Liberals to enter into a coalition, but the Liberals rejected this idea and Harold Wilson returned to head a minority administration.
In June 1948, the Soviet Union began a blockade of Berlin, which had been divided into occupation zones by the victorious Allies at the end of the war. They hoped to drive the western Allies out of Berlin. The following month, British and American aircraft began to airlift supplies to West Berliners. In total, there were more than 277,000 flights to deliver food, fuel and medicine. In May 1949, the Soviets backed down and lifted their blockade.
July 13, 1977 – The New York City blackout results in massive looting and disorderly conduct during its twenty-five hour duration.
July 21-24, 1976 – Twenty-nine people attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia are killed by a mysterious ailment, one year later discovered as a bacterium.
While daywear looked to the past, evening wear was thoroughly modern. While it may have been known as the “Polyester Decade,” satin, sequins and velvet ruled the dance floor. As disco became increasingly popular, women’s evening wear became increasingly glamorous. The evening dress by Halston is covered in shimmering sequins with a swirling skirt ready for the disco floor (Fig. 7). In the early seventies, women could be seen wearing sequins and hot pants to the disco. Editor Kathryn Hennessy writes of the glamorous styles in Fashion: The Ultimate Book of Fashion and Style:
Fig. 8 – Halston (American, 1932-1990). Evening pantsuit, ca. 1971. Silk. New York: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.969a, b. Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mildred Custin, 1975. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) begin negotiations to curb nuclear capabilities of U.S. and USSR.
October 14, 1964