What time period would you have lived in, if you could have lived at any time?
If I could have my pick of history, I would have been a reporter, first in Japan, and then in Europe, for one of the California newspapers between the end of the U.S. Civil War and the start of World War I.
So much of our modern life can be traced to this time period; the birth of instant news, mass-produced novels, entertainment and communication for and by the masses, all of it had its birth in the roughly fifty years between these two events. I could wish to have been able to see all that firsthand, but where I am torn is between the thought of seeing it without any knowledge of the present and the opposite.
Were I able to experience all those events and meet the people of the day while retaining knowledge of modern events would be to experience the beginning and to see where the patterns start. One would be looking so carefully for certain events and personalities that one might miss other figures and events that have fallen by the wayside of history.
On the other hand, to experience all that without the benefit of what comes next, would be like living in the real world. We have no foreknowledge of what is to come and that lack informs our every decision. We try to keep to the safe and narrow path, collectively, so that we can insure ourselves against any possible outcome.
Either way, with a time machine or a forgotten incarnation, the end of the nineteenth century and the birth of the twentieth is when I would go.