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Top 15 Symbols of the 1960s With Meanings

Top 15 Symbols of the 1960s With Meanings

The 1960s started off as the golden era of many great inventions. It was in the 1960s that human beings first landed on the moon.

In the 1960s, many great television shows were introduced, and great artists and celebrities emerged all over the world. Fashion trends such as go-go boots to bell-bottoms also reigned. 

Many political movements also took place in the 1960s. Martin Luther King’s famous speech was also witnessed, which served as a basis for many future social revolutionary movements.

Various black movements were supported due to Martin Luther King’s historic speech. In short, there have been many notable events that took place in the 1960s that pioneered great events. 

The world of animation also became more pronounced, and many famous animated series were introduced. The famous ‘Barbie’ also became popular in the 1960s. 

Below are the Top 15 Symbols of the 1960s that distinguished this entire era:

1. Lava Lamps 

Colorful Lava Lamps.
Colorful Lava Lamps
Dean Hochman from Overland Park, Kansas, U.S., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lava lamps were invented in the 1960s by Edward Craven-Walker. The first Lava Lamp was launched in 1963 with the name Astro, which gained instant and enduring popularity.

Lava Lamps became a decorative novelty in this colorful era.

These lamps were made of an illuminated glass cylinder filled with a colorful wax-like substance, and when heated, they used to glow like lava.

This fascinated the people of that era. Lava Lamps surely lit up the 1960s. [1][2]

2. Star Trek

Star Trek Crew.
Star Trek Crew
Josh Berglund, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Star Trek, an American Television Science Fiction Series, was created by American writer and producer Gene Roddenberry.

Star Trek became one of the most popular American entertainment brands in the 1960s and ran on NBC for three seasons (1966-1969).

Various movies, television series, comic books, and novels have been made by expanding the franchise of Star Trek.

They generated an estimated revenue of $10.6 billion, making Star Trek the highest-grossing media franchise. [3][4]

3. Sesame Street

Sesame Street Merchandise.
Sesame Street Merchandise
Walter Lim from Singapore, Singapore, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Television audiences were introduced to Sesame Street on November 10, 1969. Since then, it has become one of the most iconic programs on television.

Sesame Street was designed for preschoolers as an educational television program.

It has been recognized as a pioneer of the contemporary standard by combining entertainment and education in children’s television. It has 52 seasons and 4618 episodes. [5][6]

4. Tie-Dye

Tie-Dye T-shirts.
Tie-Dye T-shirts
Steven Falconer from Niagara Falls, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ancient Shibori method of dyeing fabric was invented in Japan centuries ago, but this method became a fashion trend of the 1960s.

The fabric was wrapped around sticks or gathered and secured with rubber bands, was then submerged in a dye bucket, resulting in the emergence of a funky pattern once the stick or rubber bands were removed.

In the late 60s, the U.S company Rit advertised its dye products which made Tie-Dye a sensation of that time. [7][8]

5. Man on the Moon

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon as photographed by Neil Armstrong.
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon as photographed by Neil Armstrong
NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Millions of people gathered around their televisions on July 20, 1969, to witness the two astronauts of the United States of America do something that has never been done before by any human.

Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, wearing backpacks of oxygen to breathe, became the first human beings to walk on the moon. [9]

6. Twist

Seniors' Twist Dance.
Seniors’ Twist Dance
Image Courtesy: Flickr

The demonstration of Twist on American Bandstand in 1960 by Chubby Checker created much hype for the dance. The youngsters of the time were obsessed with it. Kids across the country regularly practiced it.

It was so popular that kids used to believe that once they mastered the moves, a world of instant popularity would open up to them. [10]

7. Super Ball

Black Super Ball.
Black Super Ball
Lenore Edman, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Super Ball was created during the 1960s by chemical engineer Norman Stingley during one of his experiments where he accidentally created a mysterious plastic ball that wouldn’t stop bouncing.

This formula was sold to Wham-O, who declared that this ball would be perfect for children. It was then repackaged as Super Ball. According to Time Magazine, more than 20 million balls were sold during the 60s.

Super Ball became so popular at one point that it was hard to meet the demand. 

8. Barbie Dolls 

Barbie Dolls Collection.
Barbie Dolls Collection
Ovedc, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The birth of ‘Barbie’ was witnessed in the 60s. By 1965, the sales of Barbie merchandise reached $100,000,000.

The creator of the Barbie dolls, Ruth Handler, made a 3-dimensional doll after watching her daughter playing with the dolls made from paper.

Barbie dolls were named after Ruth Handler’s daughter, Barbara. 

9. The Afro

Man with afro hair.
Afro Hair
Image by JacksonDavid from Pixabay

The Afro was regarded as a symbol of black pride. Before it emerged, black women used to straighten their hair as afros or curly hair were not acceptable socially. Those who styled their hair faced opposition from family and friends.

However, during the mid to late 1960s, when the Black Power Movement gained popularity, the Afro gained popularity.

It was regarded as a popular symbol for activism and racial pride. It was also considered as an integral part of the rhetoric “Black is Beautiful.” [11]

10. The Beatles

In 1960, a rock band by the name The Beatles was formed in Liverpool, with four members – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

They initially started with small gigs in clubs, but later on, they found a spot on the list of the most influential bands of the rock era of the 1960s.

The Beatles also experimented with other musical styles other than rock and roll.

They also experimented with pop ballads and psychedelia. [12]

11. The Flintstones 

The Flintstone Figurines.
The Flintstone Figurines
Nevit Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Flintstones aired from 1960-1966 on ABC-TV on Prime Time. It was a Hanna-Barbera Production. Being the first animated series of network television, Flintstones had 166 original episodes.

Flintstones became so popular that in 1961 it was nominated for an Emmy in the category of “The Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor.”

For many other animated TV series, Flintstones was considered as a model as it had a major impact on the animation world.

The Flintstones influenced many cartoons of modern times. [13]

12. Martin Luther King

Martin Luther Close Up Photo.
Martin Luther Close Up Photo
Cees de Boer, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Martin Luther King’s public speech “I Have a Dream” is one of the most popular and influential speeches of the 1960s. Martin Luther King was an American Civil Rights Activist and Baptist minister.

He delivered the speech on August 28, 1963, during a protest in Washington for jobs and freedom.

His speech focused on economic and civil rights and called for an end to racism in the United States. His famous speech was delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters in Washington, D.C.

This speech is regarded as the most iconic speech in American history.

The speech of Martin Luther King reflects notions related to abuse, exploitation, and the mistreatment of black people. [15]

13. Bean Bag Chair

People Sitting at Bean Bags.
People Sitting at Bean Bags
kentbrew, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Three Italian designers introduced the concept of the “Sacco” (bean) Bag Chair in 1968. This design attracted consumers due to its reasonable price and features.

It also appealed to the consumers due to its uniqueness. Soon the bean bag chair became very popular and still is to this day. [14]

14. Bell Bottoms

Bell bottoms were extremely fashionable in the 1960s. Both men and women adorned them. Usually, bell-bottoms were made of different types of fabrics, but more often than not, denim was used.

They had an 18-inch circumference, and the hems were slightly curved. They were usually worn with Chelsea boots, Cuban-heeled shoes, or clogs. 

 15. Go-Go Boots 

White Go-Go Boots.
White Go-Go Boots
Mabalu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Andre Courreges, a French fashion designer, created the go-go boot in 1964. Height-wise, these boots came up about mid-calf and were white with low heels.

The shape of the go-go boots soon changed into square-toed boots that were about knee length with block heels within a few years.

Go-go boots sales accelerated with the help of celebrities who started wearing these boots for singing shows on television.  


The 1960s is considered to be one of the most iconic and memorable decades in the world. Many great inventions took place in the 1960s, and milestones were achieved by artists, leaders, and famous personalities. 

Which of these top 15 symbols of the 1960s were you already aware of? Let us know in the comments below. 



Header image courtesy: Minnesota Historical Society, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Saturday 25th of June 2022

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