If you could travel back in time to a single moment in history, which would it be?
There are restrictions: You couldn’t alter history in any way, and you’d just be a ghostly observer (so no trying to have an affair with Cleopatra, for example, or telling Lincoln not to head for the theater). So, where would you go?
Even within those restrictions, travelers on Reddit came up with some fascinating and even heart-breaking answers. If time travel ever becomes a thing, these folks are good to go.
35. A Day In The Life Of The Criminal Medicis, Perhaps
Honestly, just a regular day in a large medieval city like Paris, London, etc. Just to see how the people looked, how they spoke, what they did in their day-to-day lives, and how everything looked different from today.
34. And Then I Would Use A Similar Argument Next Time I Asked For A Raise
452 AD. I want to hear the discussion between Pope Leo I and Attila the Hun that convinced Attila to just turn around and not invade Italy.
33. Looking At Love At First Sight
I would travel back to when the elderly guy I provide care for was young, still in med school, and just met his wife to be. I want to know who the man was before he became a successful person and before he started to lose his mind.
32. But Would It Be All Greek To You?
The trial of Socrates. Our primary knowledge of him and his work comes from his students, Plato and Xenophon, and there’s reason to believe that they used Socrates as a figure to promote their own works. I’d like to see the reality of what happened. But if Socrates was anything like his pupils described, it would really be a sight to see him in action before the Athenian court.
31. Sheer Energy Exploding, Even If I Can’t Undo It
The Halifax explosion. It destroyed an entire town, eradicated 2000 people, and injured 9000. The blast wave tore down trees, bent iron, and crumbled buildings. That amount of carnage and mayhem would be absurd to see, it would be too large to even imagine.
30. Ghosts Get To Watch The Cubbies For Free
Well, since you said I cannot change anything to the better… I’ll just go with the fun one and that is travel back in time to watch the Chicago Cubs win the 1908 World Series at the old west side grounds. I imagine it would be a lot cheaper to attend that game than it would be today, but then again, being a ghost, I guess it doesn’t matter.
29. You Realize You Wouldn’t Be Allowed To Point Out There Was Room For Jack On Rose’s Raft, Right?
I’m fascinated with the sinking of the Titanic, so naturally, I would go back in time and watch the filming of the movie firsthand.
28. If You Get A Second Trip, See If King George Was Too Mad To Notice The Largest Signature
The signing of the Declaration of Independence (July 2, 1776, announced on July 4), just especially to see why John Hancock signed his name so big, and if he really did make a statement along the lines of, “The King can’t not see this signature.”
27. When Happily Ever After Was Still An Option
I’d watch my parents wedding. They divorced when I was seven and my father passed away when I was in high school, so I don’t have many memories of them together beyond being cordial for the sake of the kids. It would be nice to see them happy, even for a day.
26. Back To The Island Where A Whole Colony Disappeared
Roanoke Island. I’ve always been fascinated by what actually happened there. Did the indigenous take them in? Were they slaughtered? Why was “Croatian” carved in the settlement? So many questions I’d like to have answered.
25. What Happened Before Fire Burned The Back Story?
I would lurk around the house of the Sodder children. There were nine kids plus their parents in a house, and only the parents and four kids made it out when the house caught fire. But evidence indicates the fire was likely an arson and no evidence of the five kids that supposedly passed away in the fire were ever found.
Did they make it out before the fire? Were they kidnapped?
24. Take Me To See Pure Relief
I would probably choose World Trade tower 2, 78th-floor sky lobby, on September 11th, 2001. I have heard the memories shared of the conditions and scene after the second plane struck that tower, but I would love to hear, for myself, the elation from the survivors when Orio Palmer, and the other fire fighter, reached that level.
Also, if I could do it again, I wouldn’t mind seeing into the struggle that was going on at Windows on the World in tower one after the first plane hit. I’d want to see the members of the meeting there, which was going on before the restaurant was even supposed to be open for the day when they realized that they had no way out.
23. Say Hi To Mom And Dad And Me For Me
I would go back to late 1958 or early 1959, to a Scottish seaside town where my parents built and operated a small shop. I’d just like to see them, what they did, and were like at the same age as my kids are now, and see myself as a baby.
There were better days later, but there were happy days then too. And I miss them a lot. Just to see them again would be good.
22. The Best Concert Of All Time, Once I Figure Out Which One That Was
I likely would choose the Beethoven concert in December 1808. Three of his most famous middles period works premiered that evening, and Beethoven was a soloist in the piano.
I’m also a big Beatles fan, and would love to have had the chance to hear them live. I don’t have too much interest in going to a noisy Beatlemania concert, but would probably either choose a Hamburg set from before they were famous to see if it lives up to the hype, or I would go to the rooftop concert in 69.
It would really depend on my mood when I had to make the choice.
21. Maybe We All Felt Like Making Snow Angels, Who Knows?
I would love to go back 12 years and see my parents immigrating to Canada, seeing them excited, boarding the flight with little nearly-four-year-old me in tow. Apparently, they were both dressed in fancy clothing and were very exhausted. I wonder how they would feel seeing so much snow for the first time.
20. You’d Be Way Ahead Of Everyone Else In Thinking Wooden Horses Were Pretty Sketchy
Standing on the crenellations of Troy and observing the trojan war. I’d surreptitiously glance at Helen of Troy so I can determine if she is as beautiful as purported. I’d like to witness Achilles and Hector’s fight too, and see if any discrepancies between reality and Homer’s depiction are apparent.
I’d like to see if Agamemnon is as domineering and charismatic as history portrays. Or maybe the Trojan war didn’t exist; I’d like to see what did. I’ve always been enthralled by Greek mythology, if this one contained a modicum of truth, I’d be exultant.
19. Note Whether They Thought Leia And Luke Had Chemistry
I’d watch the original Star Wars with an audience in 1977. I want to understand the pure wonder they felt when they saw that groundbreaking stuff.
18. Time Travel Could Make Unsolved Mystery Shows Obsolete
I guess I’d go with 12 hours or so on either side of the death of Jon Benet Ramsey, just because that being unsolved is a weird thorn in my mind (never mind the affront to justice and decency, I just kinda wanna know). I know it doesn’t rate high as history goes, but I would like to satisfy my own curiosity as to what happened, grisly as the truth no doubt is.
17. And Did He Really Write That Speech On An Envelope?
I would love to see Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address. The mythos surrounding both the speech and the man are so great, I wonder if his delivery would match expectations. Would you see the strength and resolve through his exhaustion? What did he sound like? How did he stand? It’s such a monumental piece of American history and all we have are the words spoken.
16. Watching 9/11 With An Adult’s Eyes
9/11. I’m from the tri-state area and obviously 9/11 is a huge deal; still affects many families here and I know multiple families who lost a loved one that day. However, on 9/11/2001, I was only two years old and I don’t remember it at all. I feel an element of guilt being alive during the attacks and not seeing or remembering it. I think it’s something that as part of where I live and my identity that I should experience.
15. This Is Another Question For The Sphinx
When the sea-peoples attack Egypt. It was one of the many factors of the Bronze Age collapse, and nobody knows who or what this odd culture was, so seeing them in person could clear up one of the biggest mysteries of ancient history!
14. The Day An Ancestor’s Life Was Spared
My great-grandma lived in France during World War Two. At one point, she was captured by the Nazis and put on a train to be taken to a prison camp. For some reason, the train just stopped and let everyone off. I’d like to know why that happened, because it’s the reason I’m alive today.
13. When Lava Flowed Freely Over Washington State
I have a bit of an interest in local geology. I might go back and watch me some epic eruptions in the Cascade mountain range. Or! I’d love to see what the Columbia flood basalt looked like while it was happening. That’s an event that we’ll never get to see in our lifetime: just huge amounts of lava oozing out over an area of land about 1/3 the size of the whole state of Washington.
12. Even Years Later, I Want To Know The Reason
Back to the day my mom and dad separated. I’m 35 and it’s stupid that it still bothers me, because I was too young to form a memory of it… but it hasn’t ever been talked about in my family and the few efforts I’ve made to bring it up are all deflected. The only thing I know is my dad left suddenly and that was that. I really just want to know the truth about what happened.
11. Witnessing The Breaks Of Naval Warfare
I’d go back and watch the battle of Jutland. There are so few good Navel battles in modern history it’s hard to get a good idea of what they were like. Even the major powers ran mostly on theory because of how little precedent there was to go off of.
Plus, a number of the British ships supposedly went up in some of the most incredible and fiery explosions in history. It would be a spectacular sight.
10. Seeing How Special Effects Affect Real People
Battle of Trafalgar. Then I’d probably realize that while it looks spectacular from afar with all the beautiful ships and cannon fire, watching people die en masse is not really fun.
9. This One Could Also Help Dad Get Out Of The Doghouse
When I delivered my son, I had a c-section and my husband didn’t film it or take a pic of my son coming out of me. I wanted to see that miracle. The doctor didn’t even ask if I wanted to see it through a mirror or something. It’s gory, but it’s a part of me and my son’s life that I wanna witness.
8. Epic Hippie Music, Please, Hold The Mud
Woodstock. With the exception of the mud, bad smells, and horrifying port-a-johns, seeing all those bands live in one place had to be incredible. Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Santana, et al.
7. I’d Have A Gospel According To Me
If I can specify a day without knowing the exact date then I would love to go back in time and see what Jesus actually did/said just so I could get that cleared up a bit. Let’s see that tomb!
I am not a Christian, but I mean, I should just go and do my due diligence.
6. Do You Remember That Time In September (No One Was Dancing The Night Away)?
September 12, 1683, Vienna.
The Battle of Vienna had to this day the largest cavalry charged in human history in where a coalition of Polish, Lithuanians and various nations of the Holy Roman Empire fought and won against the Ottoman Empire, saving the city of Vienna and the 10,000 or so militia defending the city. If they were any later, the Turkish forces would have sapped the walls and took the city with the massive host of around 140,000 soldiers. The sound of the winged hussars charging down the hill into the Turkish host would of been something immense.
5. Historical Moments Worth $60 Million Or More
I’d stalk Thomas Beale and find the location of his hidden gold and silver. If this fails, I’ll find where his cipher went which also reveals the location.
Then, I would go back to normal time and get the treasure; estimated worth 60 some million today.
I’ll be rich and can pretend to be this great explorer.
Or stalk other individual with treasures. I wouldn’t mind getting less then 60 million if it was a cool discovery. Perhaps Ancient Aztec treasures.
4. I Just Want To Follow The Money
First, prepare. Find a bunch of rich people (millionaires and billionaires) that I can reach out and talk to. Tell them I have a challenge for them. I can travel through time and I can witness anything for a full day and bring back the information. I would not let them outbid each other, I would simply set two demands: $27,300,272 USD, after taxes and other deductibles, to my account, in escrow before giving them the requested information. And secondly, I would like them to give me one sock and one bright white candle without going into the fact that during a live television broadcast I will share the experience with them one-on-one.
The one who brings me the most interesting proposed experience wins.
3. Way, Way Back And Not To The Future
The first day. The creation of the universe, however it may have been made. I want to witness nothing turn into everything we know. I need to know, as that’s the biggest unknown. It’d probably be a beautiful sight, as well: An explosion followed by the emptiness filled with… Stuff. Particles coalescing into a mass.
2. Family Myth Or War Hero? Here’s How We Find Out
The Battle of Hastings.
The story I heard from my family (re: not necessarily a reliable source) was that one of my ancestors was an ally of William the Bastard’s, who ended up being so helpful he was granted land, a coat of arms, etc. As I understand it, this man’s name was something along the lines of Raw or Rao (never learned how it was spelled, damned French), and as such his children were the sons of Raw, or Rawsons.
I’m a history nerd, so not only would I get to observe one of the formative moments in the time since Christ as far as modern civilization is concerned, but I get to see if my grandmother’s story holds up.
1. I Want To Meet My Grandpa Even If Ghostly Me Couldn’t Hug Him
I’d want to go back in time and meet my paternal grandfather at least once. He passed away before I was born and I heard he was a brilliant man (like he would give you his things if you didn’t have money; stuff like that). He always wanted a baby girl, but had all sons. He would have wanted to meet me, his first ever grandchild (and granddaughter). I would just like to talk with him and thank him for everything that he has done (thanks to him I went to college with NO student loans).