Independent since 1776, the United States of America is 241 years old. With the average life expectancy now hovering around 80 years, that means the entire history of the country—from powdered wigs to the Internet of Things—spans a little more than just three back-to-back modern human lifetimes. Historically speaking, America is a young country.
The centenarians who defied the odds and lived to be 100 today could have grandparents who were alive in 1860, provided that both their parents and grandparents gave birth at the age of 30. For a 20 year old whose parents and grandparents both gave birth at the age of 20, their three-generation lineage would date back only to 1960—a full century later.
A lot happened during that century. If someone said “British invasion” at the beginning of it, Redcoats with muskets would likely have come to mind. Just beyond the other end of that timeline, however, the same utterance would have probably sparked a conversation about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Chances are good that your actual grandparents were born somewhere in between. Here’s a year-by-year peek at how the world looked as the parents of your parents began their life journeys.