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When Was America Greatest?

Updated September 2, 2020 7.5k votes 825 voters 26.9k views20 items

List RulesVote up the periods of U.S. history when you reckon America was at its greatest.

Depending on who you are, when you were born, and which socio-economic class you lucked into, the time period when America was great could be anywhere from the Revolutionary era to the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s. Even the greatest eras in American history were marred by ugliness and misfortune. Booming economic times shared space with terrorist attacks and the displacement of indigenous people. Put on your thinking cap and vote up the times when was America great.

From the Civil Rights movement to the waves of feminism that date back to the first great awakening, every era has had something going for it. But when was America last great? What era can you look back on and place a demarcation saying there’s been a steady decline in greatness ever since? Have we hit that moment in history yet? Vote up the periods of U.S history to which you think “Make America Great Again” refers.

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  • 1

    The Post-WWII Boom

    What made it great: Massive economic prosperity, malt shops, The Catcher in the Rye

    What made it not so great: Institutionalized racism, the threat of atomic annihilation, Atlas Shrugged

    354
    185
    Was this the greatest era?
  • 2

    The Space Race

    The Space Race is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list When Was America Greatest?
    Photo: jurvetson / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    What made it great: Neo-futurism, we went to the moon, a massive jump in technology.

    What made it not so great: Sending animals into space to die, rocket development, finding exactly zero space aliens

    288
    168
    Was this the greatest era?
  • 3

    The Revolutionary Era

    The Revolutionary Era is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list When Was America Greatest?
    Photo: Daniel Mennerich / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    What made it great: America winning its independence, no cell phones, people still loved poetry.

    What made it not so great: All that fife music, slavery, no indoor plumbing

    239
    211
    Was this the greatest era?
  • 4

    The Go-Go Eighties

    The Go-Go Eighties is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list When Was America Greatest?
    Photo: Blude / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    What made it great: MTV, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the phrase "gag me with a spoon"

    What made it not so great: Yuppies, Reaganomics, cocaine

    239
    214
    Was this the greatest era?
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