You’ve heard that a photo is worth a thousand words, but photos like the collection here have stories with so much more to say. These pictures give an insight into what life was like in eras as disparate as the 18th century and the 1970s. You’ll see what life was like for a kid in America during the baby boom, and how the Native people of America lived long before the modern metropolis existed. These rare historical aren’t just informative, they’re a fun look at a time long gone, and maybe a time that you wish you could go back to. Prepare to be astonished and read on!
Portrait of Robert Earl Hughes (1926 – 1958), who was the world’s heaviest man, as he pets the family dog, in Fishhook, IL, 1949.
(Photo by Robert Natkin/Getty Images)
Robert Earl Hughes, who was the heaviest person in the world during his lifetime, supported himself financially by selling photographs of himself, like this one seen here. He also made guest appearances at carnivals, circuses, and fairs throughout the United States. The Missouri-born Hughes was a fairly average infant until he contracted whooping cough at the age of five months old. It is believed that the whooping cough caused his thyroid gland to rupture, which in turn, led to his tremendous weight gain. At his max, he tipped the scales at 1,071 pounds. Although he died in 1958, he remains the heaviest human on record who was about to walk and not completely bedridden.
People Living with a Normal Life with Mummies in Venzone, Italy in 1950
What a ghastly tradition! The residents of Venzone, Italy, hang out with the mummified remains of their dead relatives. They live with the corpses in their homes, seat them at their dining tables, and take them out for some fresh air, as this photo shows. The macabre tradition began back in the 14th century. When the Great Plague swept through the village, so many residents died that there wasn’t room in the cemetery to bury them, so the bodies were stacked up in the church basement. Fast forward 300 years to 1647 when the church was being rebuilt. The bodies, now mummified, had to be moved, but the residents believed that God had sent their ancestors back to them. So families reclaimed their mummified relatives and took them home. The tradition continued until the 1950s and was photographed by Life magazine photographer, Jack Birns.
Walt Disney takes a final stroll through Disneyland before the gates open in 1955
On Sunday July 17, 1955 in Anaheim, California, Disneyland opened its gates at 2:30 PM, with an array of sights for families across the country to behold. With five themed lands and 18 attractions, the park was, and still is, a must experience place. At the opening ceremony Walt Disney christened his 160-acre park with these words:
To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts which have created America… with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
A woman being chased by young men and boys with wooden clubs during the Lviv pogroms, the 1941 massacres of Jews by Ukrainians.
In the summer of 1941, the Lviv pogroms, a series of riots, took place in what is now Lviv, Ukraine, but was then German-occupied land in Eastern Poland. In the riots, Ukrainian nationals, joined by German death squads, targeted and killed thousands of Jews. This was part of the anti-Jewish movement at the time and is considered to be part of the Holocaust. Jewish citizens, like the woman in this photograph, were hunted down and violently killed, a tragic part of Ukrainian history that is often overlooked.
Ladder 3 was one of the first firetrucks to show up at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001
As soon as disaster struck on the morning of September 11, 2001, the crew of Ladder 3 rushed towards the Twin Towers without a thought of everything that could go wrong. Captain Patrick Brown led his team up to the 40th floor of the North Tower in an attempt to save as many New Yorkers as possible. Unfortunately the firefighters went down with the skyscraper as it collapsed onto the front of the fire truck. Ladder 3 was stored at JFK International Airport for a decade until the it was lowered via crane into the Memorial Museum in New York City. Covered with Fire Department of New York and US flags, it now serves as a monument to all those men who bravely gave their lives to save others.
Blackfoot tribe members stand proud at Glacier National Park in Montana, 1913
(Photograph by Roland W. Reed)
One of the most beautiful places in the country is Glacier National Park in Montana, but it hasn’t always been a park that you can just stroll into. All the way up to the 1800s the Blackfeet Nationoccupied the area that once stretched as far south as Yellowstone National Park before it was taken in a land grab by the United States government. In 1895 the US government worked out a pretty rough deal for the tribe that garnered them only $1 million and the guarantee that the area was meant to remain public lands. To make matters worse, when the Blackfeet were removed from the land a fence was put up to keep them from entering whenever the felt like it, requiring them to get the permission of a park ranger whenever they wanted to visit.
Photos taken of a couple on the same motorbike, 51 years apart
Don’t you wish your parents were this cool? This adorable couple doesn’t just look cute together, they also know how to take care of the upkeep on their motorcycle. There’s something astonishing about seeing young love, especially when it blossoms into a lifelong relationship built around tearing around the countryside on a moped. These two sweethearts look cool in both photos, but there’s something classic about their style in the older picture. It’s amazing that cool fashion never changes, whether it’s back pants, a neckerchief, or an aerodynamic motorcycle. Now, how fast do you think that bad boy goes?
The 79th floor of the Empire State Building, after a B-25 bomber crashed into it
Unfortunately, New York City with its sky high buildings and proximity to multiple airports is somewhat of a target for low flying planes. One of the earliest memories of a plane smashing into a building comes from July 28, 1945, when residents were terrified after a B-25 bomber in the middle of a routine test mission crashed into the Empire State Building. 14 people were left dead following the incident which Therese Fortier Willig remembers as a living nightmare. She told NPR:
In the other side of the office, all I could see was flames. Mr. Fountain was walking through the office when the plane hit the building and he was on fire — I mean, his clothes were on fire, his head was on fire. Six of us managed to get into this one office that seemed to be untouched by the fire and close the door before it engulfed us. There was no doubt that the other people must have been killed.
The San Andreas Fault shortly after the 1906 quake that ripped San Francisco apart
(Photograph by G.K. Gilbert)
The great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was one of the most destructive quakes to ever hit the west coast. When it occurred at 5:12 in the morning, no one was ready for the chaos that would ensue. The quake ruptured from the northernmost section of the San Andreas fault to the to the triple junction at Cape Mendocino. Violent punctuations of rumbling shocked the San Francisco area as a constant secure occurred for nearly a minute straight. The quake was so intense that it left fissures in the ground, sign posts for the destructive nature of quakes to come.
Elvis Presley eating breakfast with his father Vernon and his grandmother Minnie Mae in 1959.
It’s wild to think about someone as musically important and fascinating as Elvis having parents, it would make more sense if he sprung from the head of Zeus like Athena. The King grew up in Mississippi with his parents, Vernon and Gladys, and together they all lived in low income housing until he purchased Graceland in 1957. Elvis moved the whole family in with him, which is just what good boys did when they made a lot of money. His mother passed away in 1958 which just left Elvis with his father his grandmother living in Graceland. As he was entering the military at this time Elvis had to keep his strength up, and luckily his grandmother was there to make sure he had all the biscuits and fried peanut butter sandwiches he needed.
The Culture With Elongated Heads – The Mangbetu people
The Mangbetu people, a Central Sudanic culture now living in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have the strange and bewildering tradition of head binding, also called Lipombo. The Mangbetu people so desire the human head to have an elongated appearance that they bind infants’ skulls with tightly wrapped cloth, beginning when the child is about one month old and continuing until the age of three or so. At that young age, the bones of the child’s skull are not yet fused together so they are malleable. The Mangbetu people believe that the elongated skulls are a symbol of power and intelligence.
Mr.Rogers and Officer Clemmons, the first black supporting character on children’s television
Anyone who grew up watching Mr. Rogers remembers Officer Clemmons, the kind hearted police officer who often stopped by the neighborhood to say hello. When Clemmons appeared on the program in 1969 it was the first instance of a recurring black character on a children’s series. Even though it was a largely important role, one that established a positive portrayal of a black authority figure on television, Clemmons was unsure about accepting the role. He said:
Fred came to me and said, ‘I have this idea, you could be a police officer.’ That kind of stopped me in my tracks. I grew up in the ghetto. I did not have a positive opinion of police officers. Policemen were sicking police dogs and water hoses on people. And I really had a hard time putting myself in that role. So I was not excited about being Officer Clemmons at all.
This 1,000 year old Buddha contained the remains of a mummified monk
Have you ever looked at a giant statue and wondered if there’s anything inside, Kinder Egg style? While every statue in the world isn’t full of the mummified remains of a monk, cleric, or even just regular ol’ person, this 12th century Buddha statue is an exception to the rule. When this statue was brought into the Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort a CT scan revealed the mummified remains of a Buddhist master known as Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School. Researchers found that prior to mummification the buddhist monk had his organs replaced with sips of paper covered in Chinese writing.
Author William S. Burroughs with his Jack-O’-Lantern that he carved with a hatchet, 1996.
How would you feel if you looked out your window and saw William S. Burroughs and his hatchet digging into this pumpkin before Halloween? If you were familiar with Burroughs’ work you wouldn’t be shocked. He was a wild man with an avantgarde sense of humor and a penchant for using weapons. In the last year of his life Burroughs was especially into his weapons, he often went target shooting on a farm with fellow gun enthusiasts or practicing throwing a knife into a board propped up against the little garage before having his daily vodka and coke at 3:30 in the afternoon.
A Native Alaskan poses with her child, who is resting in her hood, in 1906.
Alaskans have long needed to stay warm, and before central heat was available the natives had to dress in thick fur and leathers made from animal pelts. Were babies always being carried in hoods? Probably not. But this incredibly adorable shot shows what’s capable with one of those hoods. One thing that any parent knows by looking at this photo is that this woman’s hood must be incredibly comfortable – there’s no other way that a little bean like this would be able to konk out if it weren’t. While the animal pelts aren’t the norm anymore, they’re still a good look no matter the decade.
Robin Williams signs autographs and tells stories at a homeless shelter in Boston, 1988.
Funnyman Robin Williams was known as an off the wall comedian who could bounce between impersonations and incredibly dramatic stories that could bring audiences to tears (Good Will Hunting anyone?). But he was also someone who cared deeply about people who had less than him. According to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, Williams made sure to come down to the local homeless shelter to entertain anyone around while signing autographs. He told WBZ-TV:
He came down to the Long Island Shelter, which is a hospital that I had just built, a shelter for homeless people in Boston, getting them off the freezing streets and he was phenomenal. He was just extraordinary, entertaining all the homeless people and the staff.
Brooklyn Supreme was the world’s largest horse and it weighed 3,200 pounds
There are horses and then there are horses, big ones that tower over men and seek to gobble them alive – Brooklyn Supreme was one of those horses. According to a write up on Brooklyn Supreme the horse weighed 3,200 pounds and stood 19.2 hands, and he stood 10 feet around. The horse was so large that he needed a 30 inch bar of iron to make one shoe. For as big as Brooklyn Supreme was he was rather gentle. An old newspaper clipping about the horse stated that he had a penchant for “stealing ice cream cones and goodies from unsuspecting little boys and girls.”
This 2,000 year-old green serpentine stone mask was discovered at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Mexico.
Now here’s something you don’t see every day – or even every thousand years. In 2011 this mask was discovered by archaeologists in Mexico beneath the the Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Sun. This mask, which was found with a series of other collectibles is believed to have been placed at the bottom of the pyramid as an offering to the gods at the onset of the construction. While this mask was found at the pyramid of the sun, bones and other human remains were found buried at the base of the Pyramid of the Moon. It makes you wonder if there’s something fascinating like this item at the base of every pyramid.
A young Robert De Niro with his father Robert De Niro Sr
While we think of Robert De Niro as a regular Joe who channeled his New York upbringing into his acting, he was actually the son of a painter who steeped his boy in the arts. However, De Niro (jr) says that his father’s failing painting career was disappointing for him, and that when he started succeeding in film it made his father proud. He told The Guardian:
When I started doing well in acting, I helped him. He was very proud of me. At the same time, part of him might have been saying, ‘I wish I had some success too’. He always used to say to me ‘great artists are recognized many, many years after they’re gone.’
Colorized photograph of a worker standing on the unfinished Golden Gate Bridge in 1935.
It’s easy to take the Golden Gate Bridge for granted. Thousands of people drive across it every day and they biggest problem they face is traffic. That’s all thanks tot he brace construction workers who put their lives on the line to create this giant red feat of industrial design. Building began in earnest on January 5, 1933, and the next four years saw a construction that used a $130,000 safety net to save 19 different men who fell from the bridge over the course of the four years that it took to construct. The men who survived the fall became known as the “Halfway to Hell Club.”
The remains of a Thracian carriage and two horses that were buried upright.
It’s rare that animals are preserved as well as these are, and it’s honestly fascinating to see what life was like in 2,500 years ago. These incredible remains of a complete Thracian carriage and two horses were discovered in a Thracian tomb in a village called Svestari in north-east Bulgaria. The horses and carriage, which were found upright were buried alongside a collection of various artifacts, which means that the horses were buried alive. It’s not clear exactly who this tomb of riches was for, but they must have been a big deal in Bulgaria. Too bad about these horses though.
Dolly Parton with her husband Carl Dean, together since her first day in Nashville
There has never been and there never will be a love like the one between country songstress Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Dean. These two have been together since Parton’s first day in Nashville. They met at the laundromat and they’ve been going steady ever since. Why don’t more people know about Dolly’s man? Because they don’t their marriage in the limelight. Parton explained:
He’s always supporting me as long as I don’t try to drag him in on it. He’s always been my biggest fan behind the scenes… But anyway, he’d never come dragging around. I’d rather bring somebody else with me, you know? He’s never jealous of that either.
Did Ernest Shackleton place a wanted ad for a South Pole expedition in 1907?
A rugged expedition with little promise of return but with a large promise of glory, who wouldn’t want to freeze their buns off with Ernest Shackleton? If you’re not up on your turn of the century explorers, Shackleton was an important figure in an era of Antarctic Exploration, and he led several British expeditions to the continent. And while he definitely took out any sea faring man who was brave enough to take to the ice with him, he probably didn’t put out an ad in The Times before being flooded with 5,000 responses. It’s a fun story, but there’s been a $100 bounty up for anyone who can find an actual copy of the ad since the late ‘90s.
A giant spider crab found in Japan, 1904.
Okay well have fun sleeping tonight after looking at this giant spider crab. Japanese spider crabs are known as the taka-ashi-gani, which is a literal translation of “tall legs crab.” These giant crabs can live up to 100 years and they grow armored exoskeletons that protect them from octopi and larger predators. Their legs can grow up to 15 feet in length, and they tend to be found at depths of 500 ft to 1000 ft in the Pacific ocean near Japan which means that they’re definitely not scuttling around under your bed or in your closet. Maybe.
A breastplate that belonged to 19 year-old Antoine Fraveau – he didn’t survive the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Ouch. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when looking at this amazing piece of body armor. Not only did the cannonball that hit the young Antoine Fraveau pierce the body armor, but it went straight through the young man and out his back. That’s definitely one way to have a final day on the battlefield. While fighting at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, Antoine Favreau was sent into the field by Napoleon and quickly found an unfortunate end. It’s amazing that his immaculate bronze breastplate was so well reserved, especially in the heat of battle.
Colorized photograph of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna in 1887.
Before meeting her untimely end in 1918, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna was considered to be one of the most caring royals of the 20th century. Born Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine in the United Kingdom, she was married to Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, the second youngest son of Alexander II, Emperor of All Russia in 1884. She was an impressive addition to the Russian empire and while she never had any children she helped arrange many marriages throughout the royal bloodline. After her husband’s death she opened the Convent of Saints Martha and Mary and became its abbess in 1909. She operated the convent until she passed away.
Cellphones were predicted in 1953, but what about Apple smart watches?
Okay so this guy is either a time traveler or he just had an uncanny ability to think about the future. Mark R. Sullivan of the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company was clearly used to the changing of technology and understood that these types of things are in a constant state of flux. It’s fascinating to see him guess the invention of smart phones straight down tot he advent of video chat applications. And while there’s not technically a translation app for our phones just yet, we do have google translate and a variety of programs to allow us to better understand one another.
A pair of spooky skeletons riding horses for Halloween in the 1920s
Just imagine it, you’re walking through the streets of a small town with a bag full of candy in hand. The full moon is out, and then you hear the beating of hooves down coming down the street. Out of the darkness you see two skeletal horses carrying their spooky riders right towards you – what could they be? In the 1920s this was a normal costume for people and their animals, not only were these costumes a simple way to celebrate Halloween without having to go all out. Although, wouldn’t you say that covering a horse from head to foot in a Skelton sheet is more or less going all out?
Stephen King’s first big press notice
Today we think of Stephen King as the “master of horror,” a writer who’s responsible for just about every major genre property that’s on the screens both big and small, but in the 1970s he was just another schlub from Maine who was shopping around his spooky stories. That all changed when he sold Carrie to Doubleday. The hardback edition didn’t explode initially, but when the title went to paperback it turned into one of the biggest books of the decade. After that, King continued to write and didn’t slow down in the least. He continues to scare today.
The line of customers at the Grand Opening of the first McDonalds in Moscow, 1990.
McDonalds has been a staple of the American way of life since the first restaurant was opened in 1948. By the ‘70s the fast food restaurant was more than an inexpensive place to eat, it was a way of life. It represented freedom, so when McDonalds made its way to Russia in 1990 people flipped out and stood in line for hours to get a Big Mac on January 31, 1990. At the time the food at the new establishment was steep, with a Big Mac running 3.50 rubles, more than a monthly bus pass. That didn’t matter to the people of Moscow, they were ready to thaw out the Cold Warwith a burger hot off the grill.
Workers pose next to the chain used for the Titanic’s anchor, 1910.
The Titanic was meant to be unsinkable, and with the amount of man hours that went into it you’d think that claim would be warranted. In order to simply build one anchor workers had toward with tons of high grade steel. One entire anchor was made of about 16 tons of steel which had to be super heated until it was read hot in order to form the anchor’s shaft. At the time of construction there were more than 3,000 men employed in the small English town where the anchor was made, and it took two years from start to finish to actually finish construction.
Conrad Veidt, the original inspiration for the Joker, from the 1928 film “The Man Who Laughs.”
Conrad Veidt was the master of changing his look to suit his roles, and in The Man Who Laughs he transformed himself completely in order to look like a sideshow freak who was forced to smile for the rest of his life. More similar to The Hunchback of Notre Damethan modern horror films, Veidt’s turn as the character has influenced both the horror genre and one of the most beloved villains of the 20th century. While creating the initial design for the Joker, Batman’s nemesis, the artists behind the world’s greatest detective studied Veidt’s look and used it to create their forever smiling character.
The imposing Bran Castle watches over Romania, 1920.
Known as Dracula’s home, Bran castle is supposedly the fortress that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, the Rosetta Stone for gothic writing and horror in general. By the time Bram Stoker’s Dracula was released in 1897 the castle had fallen into disrepair and was in serious need of a renovation. After Transylvania officially became a part of greater Romania, the citizens of Brasov voted to rebuild the dilapidated castle and restore it to its former glory. Once the castle was back up and running it became a favorite residence of Queen Maria of Romania much to the pleasure of the townspeople.
A Victorian radiator with a built-in warming oven to keep plates or food warm.
The Victorians may not have been as technologically advanced as people are today, but they were some of the most forward thinking people since the Romans. As the population grew and space became more of an issue than it had ever been before, the Victorians came up with crafty new ways to maximize what space they had while maintaining a handsome looking home. This radiator that was built with a warming oven was used in dining rooms at the turn of the century to not only keep the room warm but to warm food and drink. These radiator warmers worked remarkably well with some of them keeping drinks as warm as 110 degrees.
A deserted Ottoman supply train that was ambushed by Lawrence of Arabia during World War I
While most people only think of Lawrence of Arabia as one of the greatest films of all time, it’s actually based on the true story of Thomas Edward Lawrence, British officer and explosives expert, who helped bring down the Ottoman Empire during World War I by destroying the trains on their supply line. 1917 and 1918 were huge years for Lawrence, as he spent most of them blowing up sections of railroad tracks, leaving trains like this stranded in the desert. More often the not the trains were too expensive to move without tracks so they were just left to rust in the dust.
Salvador Dalí walking his anteater in Paris, 1969
Nothing to see here folks, just Salvador Dalí walking an anteater through Paris, just move along folks. Dalí was a surrealist so it’s not totally out of the question for the painter to be seen walking around the city of lights with this strange looking animal – was this something that he did every day? Or was it a one time thing in order to get press? Aside from walking his anteater, Dalí also had a pet ocelot that he liked to pose with. While the surrealist wasn’t known for featuring animals in his work, he loved to hang out with them, but of course he couldn’t just get a dog like a normal painter.
A smiling postman in Chicago poses with a load of Christmas parcels in 1929
Christmas time in the city is one of the greatest times of the year. People are smiling, the snow is falling, and presents are being opened by boys and girls alike. You’ve heard that the United States Post Office delivers whether there’s rain sleet or snow, and in that case that claim goes double because this happy go lucky postman is working on Christmas Day. In the 1920s the postal service didn’t have nearly as many people working for them as they do now, and they definitely have the shipping technology to get packages across the country in an expedient way. The packages may not have arrived as quickly as they could, but it feels good to know that guys like this were out there making sure presents made it to the right tree.
Only cool kids rode a Schwinn
In the ‘60s the coolest bikes were Schwinn Sting-Rays, the bikes that everyone wanted. Known as “the bike with the sports car look,” the Sting-Ray was the official bike of the summer, inspiring kids across America to take to the streets and tear through town with their friends causing trouble and having a heck of a good time. Sting-Rays don’t look like your standard mountain bike, their short frame, high rise handlebars and long, bucket shaped saddle has the feel of a vehicle that’s like no other. After they were introduced in 1963 more than 45,000 bikes were sold and over the course of the next few years Schwinn continued to dominate the market with their magnificent Sting-Rays.
Before “The Customer Is Always Right existed,” rudeness was not tolerated.
Is there any phrase in the English language that’s as devastating as “you get no hot dog?” Today we’re used to diners and restaurants that are owned by major corporations, that have a reputation to keep up with, but in the 1940s and ‘50s people working at diners were often either owners or long time employees of their places of business and they didn’t want to put up with a bunch of jerks ruining their day. This sign is just one of many that dotted the United States to let customers know that if they acted up or got out of control they’d be looking for a meal elsewhere.
Special delivery, two gals deliver ice in lower Manhattan, New York City, 1918.
Before everyone and their grandmother had a refrigerator and a freezer in their homes people depended on ice deliveries to help keep their food cold for long periods of time. These smiling beauties are carrying out a major necessity for people living in big cities, and much like the women who followed in their footsteps in the 1940s, they’re taking over jobs from men who were overseas for the war. During World War I any able bodied gentleman who was of the proper age joined the military to help the Allies in Europe, leaving thousands of jobs unattended. American women didn’t flinch and they picked up the slack, or in this case the ice.
Sir Ian McKellen with his stunt and scale doubles on the set of “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”
Doesn’t Ian McKellan just seem like the coolest guy? He’s appeared in so many memorable roles, but he says that many of his greatest on camera memories come from filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand. He told Indiewire:
It may be my impression but I don’t remember a green screen on The Lord of the Rings. If Gandalf was on top of a mountain, I’d be there on the mountain. The technology was being invented while we were making the film. [In ‘The Lord of the Rings’] I wasn’t involved in any of that, I was away acting on a mountain. I tend not to remember the bad times, but I don’t think there were any. I think I enjoyed every single moment of making those films.
Retired teacher, Antonio La Cava, driving his “Il Bibliomotocarro”
Reading is one of the most important things for a developmental brain. Whether someone is taking in fiction, science, or a meaty biography, those words help us grow and realize our full potential. Books can inspire us to great things and teach us things we never knew about ourselves, which is why it’s a shame when less developed areas don’t have the kind of literary access that’s available in larger cities. Retired teacher Antonio La Cava isattempting to fix that in Spain with his Bibliomotocarro, a traveling library driven from town to town to offer books to people of all ages. He told the BBC:
I was strongly worried about growing old in a country of non-readers. Carrying out such action has a value, not only social, not only cultural, but has a great ethical meaning.
The Statue of Liberty in its original copper form before it was transported to New York City
The Statue of Liberty has long inspired awe in the eyes of Americans as she stands over New York, inviting the tired and poor onto the shores. But this intensely American statue was constructed in France by Gustave Eiffel and based on a design by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. While the statue appears a deep sea foam green, she was originally copper. The green patina comes from years of oxidation caused by the salty sea air. After France sent the Statue of Liberty to America in 1886 the United States returned the favor by sending over a quarter scale replica of the statue which can now be seen in the middle of the river Seine.
Yoda’s creator based the character’s design off of his own face
In order to create Yoda, makeup artist Stuart Freeborn looked inward and found a look that he thought would work well on the swamp planet of Dagobah. Freeborn’s work can be seen throughout the early films of Stanley Kubrick and even in Superman, but he’s most remembered for his Star Wars designs. In fact, it was his work creating the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey that won him the job on Star Wars where he went on to design hairy space pirate Chewbacca. However, when it came to creating Yoda he moved away from giant hairy animals and made something a little closer to what he saw in the mirror. The mirror image is strong with this one.
Betty Robinson was the first Olympic Gold Medalist for the Women’s 100m dash in 1928 – she was only 16 years old
At the tender age of 16 Betty Robinson was faster than most grown men who’d been training their whole lives. Born in the small town of Riverdale, just south of Chicago, Robinson was destined for greatness from a young age although at the time that she was running she wasn’t even aware that women were allowed to run competitively. She told the LA Times that at that age she was “a hick.” Even so, she was fast enough to earn a spot on the American team for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. She later described what it was like to be the first winner of the women’s 100m dash:
I can remember breaking the tape, but I wasn’t sure that I’d won. It was so close. But my friends in the stands jumped over the railing and came down and put their arms around me, and then I knew I’d won. Then, when they raised the flag, I cried.
18-year-old Bela Lugosi, in 1901, long before he came to the United States.
Now this is one vampire that can bite our necks any time. Bela Lugosi always had a commanding look about him, but when he was a young man he was one of the most handsome men on the planet. In 1901 Lugosi was just beginning his career on the stage, he wouldn’t make it to the US until 1920 when he emigrated to the states following World War I. After making it to the U.S., Lugosi was able to secure bit parts on the stage and in films by learning his lines phonetically as he was unable to speak English. However by 1927 he was in full command of the language and began playing the part that would define his career – Dracula.
Take a load off with this carved wood skeleton rocking chair made in Russia in the 19th century.
You know, there are some pieces of furniture that sound cool in your head but when you see them in person it’s like… oh yeah that’s what a giant wooden rocking chair that in the shape of a skeleton looks like. The chair doesn’t just feature a skeletal body and a wide skull at the top of the chair, it’s also got an ornate set of feet that are connected the skeleton’s actual feet. IT’s a pretty weird chair. We don’t know how much this rocking chair went for, but it must have fetched more than a pretty penny at auction.
A rare photo of a beautiful Moroccan Jewish woman in traditional clothing
Such beautiful, ornate clothing has rarely been captured in photographs from the turn of the century, likely because an outfit like this was really only seen in Morocco. In the 19th and 20th centuries the Moroccan Jewish community was the largest Jewish community in North Africa and it’s believed that approximately 120,000 to 130,000 Jews lived in the area at the time. At the time modesty was the order of the day which meant that women covered their hair and their hair, and extremely conservative women covered their faces as well. As modest as this look was, it’s definitely very cool.
Keep your buns warm with this early toaster.
There are some culinary inventions that are just hard to top, and toast is one of them. For as long people have had bread enterprising chefs have been figuring out simple ways to heat it up and make it all the more delicious – by 1893 electric toasters were on the market, although they weren’t available across the world the way things are now. The earliest versions of toasters weren’t the kind of set it and forget contraptions that we have today. Instead they only toasted one side of bread at a time and they had to be monitored by the eater in order to achieve that appropriate level of char.
Colorized photo of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna in 1903, attending the ball at Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.
As one of the most well known Russian emperors in history, Emperor Nicholas and the Romanoff family hold a particular place in the minds of history buffs. Thanks to this colorized photo we can see that Nicholas was a handsome, slight man with blue eyes and a steadfast look in his jaw. When he married Princess Alexandra these two doubled down on their belief in the autocracy as well as mysticism. They also had plenty of children, each of them with the “royal disease,” better known as hemophilia, which served to take down some of their children before they were assassinated by the White army in 1918.
One of the last photographs taken of the legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, in 1956
Laurel and Hardy were one of the most important comedy duos of the 20th century. Not only were they one of the few artists to transition well from vaudeville to the screen, but they had a career that spanned decades and the two stuck together until old age. Together for decades, their relationship was initially one of business. It wasn’t until their final tours the they grew closer to one another and actually became friends. By the time Hardy was at the end of his life he’d lost more than a hundred pounds, taking away his classic rotund look, however he said that there was nothing he could do about his illness so it didn’t upset him.
The 1930 Steam Line KJ Henderson motorcycle is from the past but looks like it’s from the future
As cool as this motorcycle looks, it’s hard to imagine hopping on this sleek, aerodynamic ride and taking it for a cruise through the city streets. After all, the hoods around the tires all but ensure that turning the bike more than a little bit will topple the whole bike. The bike’s designer, Orley Ray Courtney, believed that the motorcycle industry didn’t do anything to protect riders or their machinery from the weather hence the curved, vertical-bar grille, Unfortunately the bike was not only hard to ride but it was hard to manufacture as well. By the early 1940s exposed tires became the preferred style among riders and the KJ Streamline fell out of fashion.
An unconscious Babe Ruth running into a wall after chasing after a foul ball during the first game of a doubleheader with the Senators in 1924.
July 5, 1924, was not a great day for Babe Ruth. During a game at Griffith Stadium in Washington between the Yankees and the Senator the Bambino ran into a concrete wall while attempting to make a catch and knocked himself unconscious for five stressful minutes. As he lied on the field surrounded by players on both sides, the team doctor doused his face in water in an attempt to revive him. After waking up Ruth got back in the game, which was just a thing you could do in 1924. Following his accident he scored two more hits and played part of the second game of the double header.
A member of the Queen’s Guard Sentry getting charmed at the Tower of London in 1953.
Most people only know a couple of things about the Queen’s Guard: that they wear big furry hats and that they’re not allowed to smile on duty. While on duty the guards are meant to be unflinching in the face of whatever comes their way, be it inclement weather or fiesty locals that scream in their faces. But even the most steadfast guards can’t keep a straight face when they’re dealing with a character this cute. Who wouldn’t be charmed by a munchkin like this? Even if they’re trained to take it to guard the queen at all costs.
A young Native-American woman and child at a train station, 1930.
As the 20th century wore on and Native Americans were further displaced in their own country, families had no choice but to stay on the move or agree to live on reservations that were never as god as the homes they had before they were forcibly removed from their land. Native mothers and children like this were locked into a cycle of poverty and illness that continued to perpetuate a negative connotation for people when thinking about tribal societies. This era of “forced assimilation” was one of the worst periods for the rights of Native Americans. Many of the humiliations of this era have yet to be mended.
Ride in style in this antique hearse from Dresden, Germany
When saying goodbye to our loved ones it’s always important to send them off into the great beyond in style. Today we load caskets into hearses by Mercedes or BMW, but in the 19th century there was no such thing as a luxury vehicle with leather interiors and heated seats. Although there were tricked out hearses like this that took on the gothic look of a cathedral and brought that pomp and circumstance to the transportation market. This is definitely one carriage that can’t be mistaken for anything but a hearse, which is probably the way it should be done, you don’t want someone thinking that you’re hauling any ol’ passengers, do you?
Doris Eaton Travis was the last of the acclaimed Ziegfeld girls
Some of the most popular starlets of the early 20th century were the Ziegfeld Girls, a troupe of chorus girls who performed a spectacular review known as the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. These stunning women came from all walks of life, from trained dancers to waitresses, and Doris Eaton Travis was one of the most spectacular. As the final Ziegfeld girl, Travis lived until 2010 and continued to perform whenever it was possible. While speaking about dancing for the follies in 2005 she said, “It was beauty, elegance, loveliness, beauty and elegance like a French painting of a woman’s body.”
A classic photo booth portrait, 1960s
People have always liked to see photos of themselves. Before cellphones were basically just cameras that could send text messages in order to snap a selfie you either had to figure out how to work the timer on your film camera (if it had one) or take a trip to a photo booth. Even now, these booths that take three or four pictures at various intervals hold a mystical quality. We can use them on our own or with friends, or in this case with a family members to memorialize a trip out on the town or maybe just the malt shoppe. Everyone has at least one photo booth slip that they treasure, what’s yours?
The futuristic-looking 1938 Dymaxion is more boat than car
So we’ve got some questions about the Dymaxion: namely, how does it actually maneuver? Can it take a hard turn or is this strictly a vehicle made for high tailing it down straight and wide lanes? This whale of a car was designed by American inventor Buckminster Fuller during the Great Depression and at the time it was believed that the aerodynamic body would be great for fuel efficiency. Unfortunately the car never made it past the prototype phase with only three original Dymaxions available along with two replicas. As unwieldy as this car looks, it looks exactly how Fuller thought the future would be. Imagine a world where everyone was driving around in one of these, traffic would certainly be interesting.
Cowboys mosey up to the bar at a saloon in Tascosa, Texas, 1907
Well howdy partner, doesn’t this look at the old west just bust your broncos? We tend to think of cowboys saddling up to a saloon and tossing down shots of whiskey while playing cards, and while that may be fiction to an extent, this photo from Tascosa, Texas, shows how spot on our thoughts about the Wild West are. Admittedly the “wild” west occurred a few decades before this but its still got the dust of the trail, the 10 gallon hats, and enough chaps to make you realize how hard it was to really ride a horse. Can’t you just smell the sarsaparilla?
Henry McCarty (Billy the Kid), Doc Holiday, Jesse James and Charlie Bowdre in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1879
These four famous outlaws were a part of “The Regulators” a group of self appointed lawmen who took justice into their own hands in order to carry out the law in New Mexico the way they saw fit. While we think of Billy the Kid and Doc Holiday as constantly evading the law, they were (for a time at least) celebrated young men who lived outside of the law to some extent, although that didn’t last long. After Billy the Kid shot and killed an actual sheriff in 1878 he became a wanted man. Still, for a brief period of time he was an inspirational antihero to the people of New Mexico.
Hupa man fishing with a spear, 1923.
(Photograph by Edward Curtis)
This tribe of Native Americans has mostly lived in northwestern California since at least the 17th century where they excel at basket weaving elk horn carving and fishing. The Hupas mostly fished for salmon in the Klamath and Trinity rivers. Along with the Yurok people, the Hupas have been keeping the old ways of fishing alive since the 1850s when gold prospectors and settlers began moving in on their territory. One of the most genius ways in which the Hupa were able to catch fish was by building fishing weirs – a barrier of wood that allowed water to flow freely while slowing fish.
Halt for this New York tunnel officer in his “catwalk car”
We’ll say it, there’s something cute about this cop riding in a little car through the Holland Tunnel. Launched in 1955, the “catwalk cars” were two feet wide with a swivel seat that allowed for the tunnel police to keep an eye on drivers as they traveled from New Jersey to New York. The cars moved at a lightning fast 6 – 12 miles per hour, and according to the New York Times:
The catwalk car was the fastest, surest way through the tunnel, gliding blithely past the most epic traffic jams — equipped with no horn, because none was needed.
Romani girl with mandolin, 1910.
The Romani people are often thought of as constantly being on the move, but one of the most important aspects of their personalities is the music that they gave to the world. Their music, which draws on themes from Hungarian, Romanian, Russian and other Eastern European sources, and it’s mostly made up of folksongs that were passed down from family to family. The music dates back as late as the 1400s when Romanis from Hungary and Italy started composing songs on lutes. As the stature of the Romani people grew into the 21st century their influence could be found in everything from Gypsy jazz to orchestral productions.
Ruth Law bought her first airplane from Orville Wright in 1912
The history of aviation is full of men criss crossing the the ocean or women like Amelia Earhart who disappeared forever, but one of the lesser known female aviators is Ruth Law, a young woman who bought her first plane from Orville Wright himself. After receiving her pilot’s certificate in 1912 she started trying out new flashy ways of flying – she even perfected the new trick, the “loop the loop.” She achieved her greatest feat on November 19, 1916, when she set a new cross-country distance record by flying from Chicago to Hornell, NY, in her “obsolete machine.”
Sailors from 1910 or a members of a sassy new indie rock band?
In the early 20th century the US Navy was in an interesting spot. Most of their sailors had only been in the service for about four years, and what’s odd was that a large number of men left the service before their time was up. Every year between 1900 and 1908 the US Navy lost more than 15 percent of their enlisted forces to desertion. By 1914 many new rules were put in place to make sure that naval officers were more comfortable, and that even if they broke the rules they wouldn’t have to go to prison but would be allowed to return to their post after time in the brig.
Smitten with this kitten’s smile! A girl and her kitten smile for the camera, 1955.
Okay so this is adorable. Is there anything cuter than a girl and her kitten? Oh yeah, a girl and her kitten with matching teeth. This photo shows the reality of childhood in the ‘50s and’60s when girls were able to just hang around with their feline pets in fancy dresses. A photo like this is hard to catch, especially when cats aren’t known to grin at just anything (unless there’s a mouse around). These two must have had quite the friendship, and hopefully they had a long life together full of long weekends of lying around and smiling for the camera.
Stylish undergraduates walk through Cambridge University, 1926.
Fashionable young men in the early 20th century where just as smart with their clothing choices as they were on the campuses on Ivy League universities. This era saw young men wearing unique pieces of clothing like “Oxford bags,” a wide leg style of trouser adopted by young men at the university where the clothing earned its name. It’s hard to discern where these trousers came from, but it’s believed that they were first popularized by the rowers on Oxford’s crew teams. It didn’t take long fr the style to spread and for the trousers to grow wider. At their largest these pants reached 44 inches in width.
The disembodied arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty in New York City’s Madison Square Park
Even though the Statue of Liberty is an important piece of Americana, a glowing statue that signifies freedom to everyone who cross onto our great shores, there’s something very cool about the statue’s arm just sticking out of the ground at Madison Square Park. The disembodied arm of the statue lived in the park for nearly a decade because her body was shipped from Paris piece by piece, and designer Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc didn’t actually have the money to put the statue together. He and Frédéric Bartholdi went up and down the east coast to get the right amount of funds to finish the statue, which they weren’t able to do until 1886, years after Viollet-le-Duc passed away.
Real or fake? This triple-decker bus in Berlin, Germany could revolutionize public transportation
Okay so this triple decker bus isn’t actually a functioning vehicle, although it’s a pretty good April Fool’s Day joke, Published in the corporate newspaper Echo Continental in 1926, this image claims to show the brand new triple decker bus that the city was working on at the time. Could one of these triple decker busses work? Double deckers are incredibly useful in big cities, but they’re also not the easiest thing to maneuver, which means that a triple decker bus would be even more of an unwieldy beast. But who knows, maybe German engineering would be able to make this bad boy work.