Photography is a truly valuable art form because of the way that it preserves moments. A photo captures an instant in all its power, never letting it fade away. As such, photos like these, that show moments that happened decades ago, can still have an immense power to move people.
Musician, songwriter, composer, and all-round strange guy, Frank Zappa was a musical talent whose work influenced many and could be imitated by none. Fitting with this status as a true individual with singular tastes, we see Frank here with his parents – in a room that could best be described as ‘aggressively purple’.
Sometimes, seeing the home of a star gives you an insight into what they’re like – but if anything, this just makes Frank more of mystery.
Every once in a while, a female star arises from the horde of Hollywood stars to become the new ‘it girl’, and through the later years of the 1970s, Farrah Fawcett was that girl. Fawcett got her big break in 1976 when she became one of the leads on the hit ABC series ‘Charlie’s Angels’.
The show, about three women who become private investigators, was a huge success, and made Fawcett a star. She became known in particular for her iconic hairstyle – imitated by thousands of women nationwide.
Celebrity relationships are often difficult things – and if Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland’s marriage was anything, it was difficult. Sellers, a comedian hailed as one of the greatest in the business, and Ekland, a rising star who would soon captivate the world, met in 1964 and married soon after.
However, their marriage was far from idyllic – in fact, not long into their marriage, Sellers suffered eight heart attacks in one night! The two divorced in 1968, leaving them as one of the stranger experiments in Hollywood romance.
In the world of NASCAR, one of the most popular and influential drivers was Dale Earnhardt Sr. Born in 1951, Earnhardt was one of the most successful competitors in the history of the sport, winning an unbelievable seven championships in the Winston Cup Series – NASCAR’s most prestigious competition.
Unfortunately, Earnhardt was taken before his time, passing away after an accident during a race in 2001. Nonetheless, his legacy remains, with numerous tributes paid to him, along with an induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The place to be
As far as nightlife went in the 70s went, you couldn’t find a more iconic spot than Studio 54. Set up in 1977, the club was based in a former television studio – hence the name – which made for a truly unique atmosphere.
Before long, Studio 54 became known as the hottest nightlife spot in New York, with numerous celebrities partying at the club on a regular basis. In this photo, we can see famous artist Andy Warhol next to Debbie Harry, the frontwoman of new-wave band Blondie.
The Lizard King
One of the most enduring icons of counterculture in the sixties and seventies, Jim Morrison essentially set the mold for the poetic-yet-troubled rocker archetype. As the frontman of rock band The Doors, he became known for his thoughtful and poetic lyrics, intense performance style, and willingness to defy convention.
Despite passing away at the age of twenty-seven in 1971, the music Morrison made with The Doors has stood the test of time. He is still one of the most influential figures in music, whose work continues to inspire people today.
Roll up roll up
When you think about the seventies, it’s inevitable that one of the images that passes through your mind is that of a roller disco. The craze hit its highest point in this era, with people all over the country lacing up their skates and heading down to the rink to awkwardly mix skating with dancing.
We’d probably pass, given that we can barely do one of those things without falling down. These friends seem to be having a pretty good time, despite constantly being in danger of eating floor.
One of the biggest events of the sixties was Woodstock Festival, which took place in 1969, from August 15-18. The most iconic performance that took place at Woodstock, and perhaps the most iconic of all time, was that of Jimi Hendrix, pictured here.
Hendrix is commonly regarded as the greatest guitar player in history, and was one of the biggest stars on the planet when this performance was given. Hendrix’s performance was seen as a vital countercultural moment, and his performance still resonates today.
As far as iconic musical artists of the sixties and seventies go, you’d be remiss not to mention Paul McCartney. As one of the principal songwriters of The Beatles, McCartney was partly responsible for helping to reshape music entirely, with several revolutionary albums that still inspire today.
This photo was taken in 1976, a few years after The Beatles had broken up and McCartney had formed the band Wings. McCartney and his first wife Linda were well-known vegetarians and animal lovers, seen here with a petting zoo’s worth of animals.
Does not compute
Now this is a culture shock. Given just how far computers have come in the last decade or so, it’s almost inconceivable that the desktop computer seen here was actually cutting-edge at the time. This photo was taken in the seventies, when computers were first starting to become available on a wider basis.
In those days, computers were very basic – with home computers only really being suitable for word processing and simple video games. Nonetheless, the increasing availability of computers sparked the digital revolution that we are still experiencing today.
Concorde was an instance of extreme ambition being undone by unfortunate circumstance. Devised in the early 1960s, the supersonic jet was to be the future of air travel. Unfortunately, things quickly began to go wrong.
The building of the jet was much more expensive than initially assumed – costing almost $800 million in the end. In addition, high maintenance costs and a tragic accident in 2003 eventually brought Concorde’s career to an end. However, this first Concorde jet – photographed in 1977 – is a testament to the value of ambition.
Health and safety
This is perhaps one of the more alarming photos of life as it was a few decades ago. Seen in the photo are a set of water cooling towers near a home in West Virginia. While the cooling towers themselves do not pose such a risk, the remarkable thing is just how close this home is to a power plant.
In the seventies, the risks of close proximity to power plants, large-scale industrial operations, and their refuse was not so well-known, leading to an alarming coexistence with dangerous materials.
Every few years, style and fashion look to the past for inspiration – and the seventies served as a blueprint for fashion many times. This photo, taken in Chicago in 1975, shows just why this decade is so frequently imitated stylistically.
Both the people in this couple are dressed in bright and unique ways – using their outfits to truly express their individual senses of style. In part, it is this that makes seventies-inspired fashion so captivating, as it harks back to an era where fashion really was about self-expression and individuality.
In 1967, the champions of the National Football League and the champions of the American Football League met for the first time to compete in a Super Bowl. The game was between the AFL Kansas City Chiefs, and the NFL Green Bay Packers – who beat the Chiefs 35-10.
The game was huge, watched by fifty million people in total. The Super Bowl would only continue to grow in popularity until today – when it is the most-watched sporting event in the U.S. This is truly a snapshot of American history.
Going to the store
One of the most enduring images of a pastoral and idyllic America is that of old corner stores. For years, TV and film have shown gaggles of kids crowding into a small corner store, in order to buy a little candy and a soft drink from a kindly store clerk.
Indeed, unlike a lot of popular imagery of the fifties and sixties, this particular notion is not total fabrication. Pictured here is a classic sixties corner store, emblazoned with various fizzy drinks designed to attract anyone with a sweet tooth.
Another popular image of the sixties that proliferates in the media is that of hair salons – filled with conversing women in the process of having their hair sculpted into improbable and convoluted styles.
Here, we can see that such images were in fact quite accurate – right down to the uniquely patterned salon chairs and perfectly-sculpted hairstyles of the hairdressers themselves. Each woman here is in the process of having their hair shaped into such a complex structure that you’d need a degree in engineering to understand how it stayed up.
Take to the skies
The 1960s was an exciting time for air travel, as larger planes increased the number of potential customers, and helped create a booming commercial air flight business. One of the most recognizable features of this era is that of the flight attendant.
During this time, flight attendants were seen as a way of helping an airline stand out, and as such, the uniforms they wore were much more striking than the more plain and standardized uniforms seen today. These attendants provide a perfect example, wearing unique and extremely colorful outfits.
Not my type(writer)
Although it may seem a little unbelievable now, there was a time when a typewriter was a must-have, hot consumer item. After all, prior to the widespread use of computers, they were the default tool for conveniently being able to write much more than you could with a pen or pencil.
Plus, they made that really cool clicking sound. As a result, typewriters were a must-have item for a time – as demonstrated by this shop display, which frames the typewriter as a coveted and upscale product.
Not everything is a momentous occasion. This photo, taken in 1960, shows a couple sharing a romantic moment near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. What’s nice about this photo is that it could have been taken at any point between the sixties and now.
One of photography’s chief strengths is the capacity to show that, alongside all the iconic and important moments of the intervening decades, people have been and will continue to share small moments that are nonetheless just as important.
We all scream
Although it’s not quite so classic a sight nowadays, a consistently popular image of days gone by is that of kids clamoring around an ice cream truck in the hopes of securing a cold treat on a hot day.
This photo taken in 1970 shows one such moment, as a group of children crowd around a Good Humor truck, hoping to purchase the iconic Good Humor ice cream bar. Ice cream trucks still operate today, but are no longer seen as quite such an inextricable part of the American summer.
It’s got groove, it’s got meaning
The 1978 musical ‘Grease’ details the romance of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, and depicts a campy version of greaser subculture. Greaser culture was popular in the fifties and sixties, predominantly adopted by working class men and women – with an aesthetic generally based around leather jackets, jeans, leather boots, and expertly-coiffed hair.
The film was a huge hit, becoming for a time the highest-grossing musical ever. This picture shows Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta – who play Sandy and Danny – hanging out on set with Jeff Conaway, who plays Kenickie.
George Lucas is undeniably best known for his work on the ‘Star Wars’ series of space operas – but he came to prominence in 1973, with the film ‘American Graffiti’. The film is a comedy set in the 1960s, that explores the highs and lows of being a teenager – and the pitfalls of moving from young adulthood to adulthood during that era.
Although now overshadowed by the success of ‘Star Wars’, ‘American Graffiti’ was a huge success, making massive returns and earning Lucas acclaim. Lucas is pictured here on set during filming.
Puppet on a string
Since debuting in 1969, the kids’ show ‘Sesame Street’ has become an American icon – beloved all across the country by the adults it once entertained and the kids it entertains now. The show is centered around the inhabitants of the eponymous street – a group of muppets and humans that come together to crack wise and learn important lessons.
Pictured here are (from left to right) puppeteer Daniel Seagren, Jim Henson – the creator of the muppets who would later have their own show – and Frank Oz, one of the show’s main performers.
In 1976, the crime drama ‘Charlie’s Angels’ began airing on ABC. The show centered around Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett), Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson), and Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith), as three women recruited by the mysterious Charlie to work as private detectives.
‘Charlie’s Angels’ was a massive success, becoming one of the biggest shows on TV. Jaclyn Smith can be seen here hanging around on set between takes. Although declining ratings led to its eventual cancelation, the show helped to establish a genre of women-led tales of espionage and crime-fighting.
Debuting in 1965, the TV show ‘Rawhide’ was one of a batch of popular western shows, alongside ‘Wagon Train’, ‘Bonanza’, and ‘Gunsmoke’. The show was set in the 1860s, and followed a group of drovers – men who guided cattle over long distances during the days of the wild west.
The show is notable for having started the career of Clint Eastwood, who had a lead role alongside his co-star Eric Fleming. Eastwood can be seen here (middle) while filming ‘Rawhide’, alongside actors David Watson (left) and Raymond St. Jacques (right).
The King of Cool
Clint Eastwood wasn’t the only actor to have his career started by a TV western. In 1959, the show ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ began airing, and featured the then little-known actor Steve McQueen. The show centered around McQueen’s character Josh Randall, a bounty hunter determined to see justice done.
McQueen – pictured here having lunch on set – got his big break on the show, and before long became one of the most popular actors in the world. He went on to appear in films like ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Towering Inferno’.
To the stars
As far as influential films go, you would be hard-pressed to find one that has had more of an impact than ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. The 1968 film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, centers around the journey of a spaceship to Jupiter, and the complications that arise soon after.
The film has had an incalculable effect on the sci-fi genre, and on film as a whole – with movies taking cues from it even today. Kubrick can be seen here on set with the film’s lead Keir Dullea.
The 1968 film ‘Planet of the Apes’ is one of the most iconic films of all time. The film – which stars Charlton Heston as an astronaut who finds himself on a planet of intelligent apes – has inspired numerous homages, references, and parodies over the years.
One particular aspect of the film that was hailed as groundbreaking was the prosthetic work that transformed its actors into apes. Maurice Evans – who plays Dr. Zaius – can be seen here having the ape makeup and prosthetics applied.
Dean there, done that
Pictured here are James Dean and Natalie Wood talking to Nicholas Ray, the director of 1955 film ‘Rebel Without a Cause’. The film, starring Dean as Jim Stark and Natalie Wood as Judy, explores the divides and differences between parents and children in an age of shifting ideals and dreams.
They – and Dean in particular – have since become emblematic of youthful rebellion. Unfortunately, Dean passed away in an accident before the film was released – although this only further served to establish him as a cultural icon.
The 1979 war film ‘Apocalypse Now’ is one of the most influential and thought provoking in recent film history. It stars Martin Sheen as Benjamin Willard, a U.S. soldier who has been tasked with bringing renegade soldier Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando) to justice.
The film has been praised as a dark and epic exploration of the human psyche, and won director Francis Ford Coppola’s acclaim. Pictured here are Coppola and actor Dennis Hopper, discussing a scene prior to shooting.
Based on the Truman Capote novella of the same name, the 1961 rom-com ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is widely regarded as one of the greatest romantic comedies in film history, and is perhaps Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic role.
The film follows Hepburn as Holly Golightly, a carefree young woman who floats through life without ever really settling on a path for herself. Eventually, Holly must decide what it is she really wants. Hepburn can be seen here with her co-star George Peppard, as they share a joke between takes.
Not just anybody
As well as releasing a set of groundbreaking albums, The Beatles also appeared in several films throughout their time as a band, starring in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in 1964, ‘Help!’ in 1965, and ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ in 1967 – as well as cameoing in ‘Yellow Submarine’ in 1968.
‘Help!’ is an adventure musical which follows the band’s efforts to record an album while being chased by a mysterious cult. The band can be seen here making their way out of a pool during filming.
Heads will spin
Released in 1973, ‘The Exorcist’ is one of the greatest horror films of all time, and has inspired a legion of imitators over the years. The film follows Regan, a young girl possessed by a demon, and the efforts of Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) to exorcise this demon from her.
The film caused a widespread furor for the sheer power and extreme nature of its content, with many audience members fainting while watching it. Linda Blair, who plays Regan, can be seen here talking to director William Friedkin.
Christmas movies everywhere owe an unpayable debt to the 1946 film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ starring Jimmy Stewart – which set the template for them that is still followed to this day.
The film follows Stewart as George Bailey – a down on his luck man who meets his guardian angel, who shows him what the life of those close to him would be like had he not been born. Stewart can be seen here on the set, wiping fake snow off of himself after a take.
As far as all star casts go, there aren’t many films that could compete with ‘The Misfits’ when it was released. The 1961 film stars legendary actors Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Clark Gable, Thelma Ritter, and Eli Wallach as a group of friends living in Nevada, each with a dissatisfaction around their lives.
Although the film did not do well initially, it has since come to be regarded as a cinematic classic. Pictured here are Marilyn Monroe and the film’s screenwriter – and Monroe’s then-husband – Arthur Miller.
Centered around the ambitions and downfall of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, 1941’s ‘Citizen Kane’ is frequently lauded as one of the greatest films of all time.
Directed, co-written by, and starring Orson Welles, the film follows the life of Kane as he rises from poverty to become a publishing titan, and the personal struggles he endures and inflicts upon others during his journey to the top. Welles can be seen here on the set, directing a scene.
One of the most iconic scenes in all of film history comes toward the end of ‘The Great Escape’, in which Steve McQueen’s character Virgil Hilts attempts to jump his motorcycle over the border fence between Germany and Switzerland.
McQueen can be seen here, preparing to shoot the sequence, in which he performed the stunt himself. The film, released in 1963, follows the escape attempt of several prisoners of war during the Second World War – and has been immensely popular ever since it first debuted.
Tall, dark, and ugly
Upon its initial release in 1979, the independent horror film ‘Phantasm’ was regarded as largely average. However, as the years went by, the film came to be re-appraised as a unique and powerful horror, that had a profound influence on horror in the years that followed.
The film concerns the attempts of Mike Pearson (A. Michael Baldwin) to defeat the mysterious and supernatural entity known as the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). A model of the Tall Man can be seen here, being operated by several technicians while filming a scene.
To boldly go
‘Star Trek: The Original Series’ has had such a profound and lasting influence on science-fiction that it’s a little difficult to believe that it’s now over fifty years old. The show followed the crew of the starship Enterprise, as they embark on a mission to discover new planets and encounter previously unknown civilizations.
The two most well-known characters from the show are Captain James T. Kirk – played by William Shatner – and Officer Spock – played by Leonard Nimoy. Shatner and Nimoy can be seen here reading a Mad magazine between takes.
Given how dark and brooding comic book media is nowadays, it’s a little hard to remember just how campy the original ‘Batman’ TV series was. The show, featuring Adam West as the Caped Crusader, was more about teaching kids to eat their vegetables than it was doling out justice – and Batman was more likely to dance than adopt a gruff voice.
West can be seen here shooting a scene, with Batman ready to leap into the Batmobile and chase down evildoers – presumably because they were littering.
Marching for a cause
Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most famous figures of the 20th century – and American history altogether – for good reason. King helped to lead the Civil Rights Movement, which fought to achieve equal civil and legal rights for black Americans.
One of the most famous moments during this campaign was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place in August of 1963. It was here that King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, which outlined his desire for a future free of discrimination.
Causing a scene
The Beatles are one of the few musical artists whose public reception was so intense that it had its own name – Beatlemania. When the band traveled to the States for the first time, Beatlemania went with them, and American fans reacted to their presence with hysteria.
The popularity of The Beatles stateside even began the British Invasion – a period of time in which British music became intensely popular and culturally imported in the U.S. Pictured here is the band touching down in the States for the first time.
Blowin’ in the wind
During the countercultural revolution of the sixties, music played a vital part in expressing people’s dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and their desire for a better future. Two of the most popular and influential artists of the time were Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, who wrote and performed some of the most powerful songs of the era.
Dylan and Baez are seen here at the aforementioned March on Washington, at which they were in attendance and also performed several songs.
Art and fashion
One of the most visible changes that took place during the sixties was in the area of fashion. One of the most influential fashion moments during this period came with the release of the Mondrian Collection by Yves Saint Laurent.
Debuting in 1965, the collection was inspired by several modern artists, with the work of Piet Mondrian being the most major influence. The use of art in clothes, along with the daring and unique use of shapes and colors, would have a major influence on the fashion to come.
The sixties saw serious competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and this was perhaps made most apparent in the Space Race. Both countries were determined to be the first to put a person on the moon, and devoted huge amounts of money to research in this field.
Prior to the moon landing, one of the major moments in this race came in 1965, when Ed White carried out the first moonwalk in history. Pictured here, White was outside the Gemini 4 capsule for twenty-three minutes.
On July 20, 1969, the Space Race came to an end when the Apollo 11 mission took Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. Both Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon, with Collins staying in orbit to observe it.
It was a truly momentous occasion in human history, marking the first time any human had stood on a celestial body that wasn’t Earth. It had been the dream of people for millennia to see the moon so closely, and the astronauts on Apollo 11 lived that dream.
One of the only events to rival the moon landing as the defining moment of the sixties is the music festival Woodstock. Held from August 15-18 in 1969, Woodstock saw over 400,000 people attend – and quickly attained the status of a legendary event.
The event saw numerous bands perform sets that would go on to be considered some of the most powerful and momentous in history. The festival served as a boiling pot of countercultural sentiment, and served to encapsulate the cultural changes that had taken place over the decade.
In 1961, East Germany began building one of the most controversial and well-known pieces of architecture in history. The Berlin Wall was devised as a way of separating East and West Berlin, and isolating West Berlin.
This is a picture from the early building of the wall, before it was the sprawling and imposing structure that it came to be known as. Eventually, in 1990, the wall was taken down by the citizens of both East and West Berlin, marking the end of the years of separation they had known.
Nowadays, with the sheer amount of metal birds that fly through our skies each day, it almost seems strange to picture a time when planes weren’t a constant presence in our lives. However, it was only just over a century ago that the first flight occurred, and things changed forever for humanity.
Pictured here is the Wright Flyer, the plane devised and built by Orville and Wilbur Wright – AKA the Wright Brothers. The first flight took place on December 17, 1903, near the town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
The woman in this photo is called Florence Owens Thompson, but for years she was known only by the name of this photo – ‘Migrant Mother’. Taken in 1936 by photographer Dorothea Lange, the photo came to be seen as an embodiment of the struggles that people and families faced during the Great Depression during the early twentieth century.
During this time, many families traveled around looking for work – which is what Thompson and her family were doing when the picture was taken.
One of the most famous performers of the twentieth century, Elvis Presley changed the face of popular music forever. He first appeared as a young upstart with a dynamite voice and a smoldering stare, and would eventually go on to be regarded as one of the greatest singers and performers of all time.
Elvis challenged norms of behavior and performance, pushing the boundaries of what it was acceptable to be as an artist – and in return for this gift he is forever remembered by music lovers as ‘The King’.
Larger than life
Nowadays, 3D is fairly ubiquitous in film – to the point that it’s been somewhat dismissed as a novelty. As such, it’s easy to forget that it was once one of the most exciting new cinematic novelties around, and sparked several crazes during which it was extremely popular.
Seen here is one of the films that helped spark one such craze – the 1952 B Movie ‘Bwana Devil’. The film – which is about two lions that became famous for attacking humans – was the first feature-length 3D film to be shown in color.
The Space Race was a very heated competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and it led to some pretty strange things as they tried to be the first to make it to space – like sending a dog into space.
The very good pooch pictured here was called Laika, and she was sent into space aboard the Sputnik II on November 3, 1957. The test flight was pivotal in helping figure out what the effects of spaceflight might be on living creatures.
Lasers are a vital element of everyday life, being used in a truly unbelievable number of processes. This is a photo of Theodore Miaman, the man who invented the first laser. Maiman built and successfully used his laser for the first time on May 16, 1960 – and in doing so paved the way for much of the innovation that occurred in the twentieth century.
Today, lasers are used in barcode scanners, fiber-optics, eye surgery, welding, and light displays – to name just a few of their many applications.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon met to take part in four televised debates, during their race to become president. These debates were a big change for politics, being the first presidential debates ever, and the first debates to be televised.
As such, they moved politics into a much more public-facing state – and in doing so made a person’s public bearing and ability to orate well a much bigger factor in how appealing a candidate they were.
It’s always a shock to see the very first video games, which are often little more than a few shapes moving around on a screen. Pictured here are Martin Graetz, Steve Russell, and Alan Kotok, the creators of the 1962 game ‘Spacewar!’ – one of the earliest and most influential video games.
The game, rendered in very simple graphics, involved a battle between two spaceships, each controlled by a player. Despite its simplicity, ‘Spacewar!’ was a huge inspiration for other programmers, and is considered one of the most influential games ever.
Have a nice trip
For a while after planes became a viable method of transport, commercial air travel was the preserve of the wealthy – a luxury that only a few could afford. This changed with the introduction of planes like the Boeing 727 – pictured here just prior to its maiden journey in 1962 – that made air travel a possibility for a much wider range of Americans.
Before they were decommissioned, an unbelievable 1,832 Boeing 727s were made, on which millions of ordinary Americans were able to experience their first flight.
Given that pretty much any phone you can buy nowadays comes with a decent camera, it’s hard to believe just how recently it was that photography was a real hassle, and by no means available to a lot of people.
Pictured here is Edwin Land, the man who set up the Polaroid Corporation, and invented photographic film that developed quickly and without the need for a darkroom – changing the process forever. Land is seen here in 1963, with the Polaroid color film that made quick and easy color photography possible.
In 1963, John F. Kennedy made a historic trip to West Berlin, in order to reaffirm its ties with the U.S. During his speech, Kennedy famously declared ‘Ich Bin Ein Berliner’ – ‘I am a Berliner’. A popular urban legend states that a ‘Berliner’ is also a jelly donut, and as such Kennedy referred to himself as a donut.
However, the word ‘Berliner’ is not used to mean ‘jelly donut’ in Berlin itself, and Kennedy’s use of words was in fact entirely accurate.
For the most part, the Berlin Wall was an imposing and impenetrable structure that blocked the citizens of East and West Berlin off from each other entirely. However, in 1961, a checkpoint was opened between the two – known as Checkpoint Charlie by soldiers in West Berlin.
The checkpoint made it possible for people to travel between the two cities, and see family that they might have been separated from by the wall. This checkpoint, though small, was nonetheless extremely significant for those in East and West Berlin.
One of the most significant events of the Second World War was the Normandy landings – also known as D-Day. Taking place on June 6, 1944, the Normandy landings were an operation that saw numerous allied troops launch an incursion onto the beaches at Normandy, in the hopes of reclaiming land from the German army.
The operation was protracted and difficult, but did eventually yield major gains for the allies – making it one of the most important moments of the war.
Raising the flag
This is, perhaps, the most famous image from the Second World War. The photo, taken by Joe Rosenthal, depicts a moment from February 23, 1945 – in which American soldiers raise the U.S. flag after the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The battle had been particularly prolonged, lasting five weeks all in all – after which the U.S. forces finally saw victory against the Japanese soldiers that had previously held the island. The photo became famous immediately after publication, and has become one of the most well-known images in American history.
In 1964, one of the most important political documents in American history was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, bringing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into effect. The law granted equal civil rights to black Americans, after they had faced years of discrimination – representing an important step forward in American society.
Johnson is seen here, moments after signing the act into law, shaking hands with Martin Luther King Jr. – who had helped lead the Civil Rights Movement that had agitated for this change to be made.
Pictured here is Thurgood Marshall, being sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Taking up the position in October of 1967, Marshall was the first black American to be sworn into the position, marking a significant step forward in the pursuit of building a country in which all people could flourish equally.
The Supreme Court consists of judges that are in the position until they pass away or retire – which Marshall did in 1991.
Sometimes, moments that become famous are ones in which one or two people decide to take a stand for something they believe in. In this picture, we can see Tommie Smith and John Carlos – two American runners at the 1968 Summer Olympics…
Lowering their heads and raising their hands as a symbol of support for human rights and against injustice. The moment caused a stir around the world, and in the years since, the photo has come to be seen as a symbol of standing up for one’s beliefs.
There’s gold in them hills
Some of the most formative events in American history are the various gold rushes that have occurred over the years – such as the California Gold Rush that began in 1848, and the Black Hills Gold Rush that began in 1874.
This photo was taken around the years between 1899 to 1909, and depicts prospectors panning for gold during the time of the Nome Gold Rush. This gold rush took place in the town of Nome in Alaska, and lasted from 1899 to 1909.
Loud and proud
Over the course of American history, there have been numerous times when marginalized groups banded together to campaign for the rights that they deserved. One famous campaigner for the rights of LGBT people was Harvey Milk, who became the first LGBT person to be elected to public office in the state of California.
Milk is seen here as part of a parade during San Francisco Pride in 1978 – an annual event at which LGBT people assert their rights and solidarity.
Inarguably one of the most significant moments of the twentieth century was the end of the Second World War. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered to the allies, ending the war and bringing peace where for years there had only been conflict.
Pictured here is a crowd of people being given the news that the war is over, and has ended in victory for the allies. Upon the news making its way around the world, people everywhere broke out into celebration, overjoyed at the news of peace.
The game of baseball is often referred to as ‘America’s national pastime’ – and it’s certainly been around for long enough to earn that designation. This photo, taken in 1903, depicts the first ever World Series – between the Boston Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The series lasted from October 1-13, and consisted of eight matches – ultimately being won by the Boston Americans. The World Series continues to this day, with the most recent one taking place in 2019, from October 22-30.
Some of the most powerful stands against injustice are those taken by a single person. In 1962, James Meredith became the first black American to attend the University of Mississippi – which had until then only been attended by white students.
Meredith’s decision came to be a major moment in the fight for civil rights, with Meredith himself becoming an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Despite the furor caused by his actions, Meredith persevered to achieve a degree in political science.
One of the biggest changes that occurred in the early twentieth century was the granting of suffrage to women – which was carried out via the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.
Pictured here is Jeannette Rankin, a suffragette and activist who in 1916 achieved a major step forward for women when she became the first woman elected to Congress – being elected as the representative for Montana’s first district. Rankin is seen here addressing a suffragette event in Washington, on April 2, 1917.
Making a home
During much of the nineteenth century, American land was wide open and almost entirely unsettled. One of the ways that the government sought to encourage people and families to settle land was with the Homestead Acts – a collection of laws that made it possible for almost any American citizen to settle a piece of land and apply to have it recognized as theirs.
One such family is seen here – journeying in 1886 to find a place that they could claim as their home.
One of the most famous buildings in the country – and the world – the Empire State Building was a marvel of construction that showed just what feats of engineering and building were capable of in the twentieth century.
Finished in 1931, the Empire State stands at 1,454 feet tall – and was the tallest building in the world when it was built. This photograph depicts a man working on the building in 1930 – and demonstrates just how risky work on these structures was back then.
One of the most difficult periods in recent American history was the Dust Bowl – which took place in the most part from 1934 to 1940. During this period, irresponsible farming techniques and drought caused huge swathes of soil to dry out and become dust, which was then whipped across the country by winds.
The event devastated agriculture, and led many of the affected to abandon their home states in search of food and work. Pictured here are a man and his sons walking home during a dust storm.
The development of the railways was a massive boon to the United States – especially when this development finally made its way to the west, which had languished behind the east for some time. This picture was taken on May 10, 1869, during the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad.
With the construction of this railroad, travel and the transport of goods between the eastern and western states were made much easier – and as such, trade and business became much easier, helping the west to develop quickly.
As the United States developed more and more as a country, it led to some truly momentous construction projects – one of which was the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Construction on the bridge started in 1869, and lasted for an unbelievable fourteen years, ending in 1883.
The bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn, and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever built. This photograph depicts several of the many painters who worked on the bridge – posing on some of the suspension wires.
Changing times (square)
One of the most recognizable parts of New York City is Times Square, a section of the city in which business, entertainment, tourism, and residential areas all intersect. The square today is almost always overflowing with pedestrians, and is nearly entirely covered with billboards.
This photo of Times Square from 1947 is somewhat startling, if only because it demonstrates how little has really changed. Although not quite as covered, the area already has its fair share of billboards, and was clearly a hub of activity even then.
Ice to see you
At the 1980 Winter Olympics, the American ice hockey team were due to play the Soviet Union team in the finals. The Soviet Union team had won gold in ice hockey in five of the last six Winter Olympics…
While the American team was made up entirely of amateurs, and had achieved several surprising victories on their way to the finals. Despite the overwhelming odds, the U.S. team managed to win in a game that shocked audiences everywhere and came to be known as the ‘Miracle on Ice’.
Although meaningful movements are, by necessity, made up of multiple people, there are often times when a particular individual comes to be seen as representative of a movement. One such person is Rosa Parks, who became a pivotal figure of the Civil Rights Movement in 1955.
Parks decided to take a stand against Alabama’s discriminatory laws, and in doing so provided inspiration for the Civil Rights Movement. As such, Parks is remembered as a vital activist in the fight for equal rights.
Art imitates life
One of the most famous pieces of art to come from the 20th century was the ‘Marilyn Diptych’, created by pop artist Andy Warhol. The painting shows film star Marilyn Monroe’s face fifty times in total – with half of the images being in color and half being in black and white.
The painting, a comment on celebrity culture and life, has become one of the most well-known and influential artworks of modern times. Warhol is pictured here with the film he used for the work.
We have to say, these kids are certainly much more sharply-dressed than we were when we went to school. This photo, taken in the 1920s, shows two students making their way to school for the first day of the new school year.
Neither of them looks super-thrilled about having their picture taken – but we wouldn’t be either if we had to dress for school in outfits as stuffy as these appear to be. They’re pretty stylish, though.
Although most kids loathe going to school nowadays, there was a time when the ability to go to school was considered a distinct privilege. Until the earlier part of the 20th century, most children would only go to school if they came from a relatively well-off family – while most other children were sent to work.
This photo was taken in 1899, in a school in Washington, and depicts the teaching of a cooking class. That’s the fanciest cooking class we’ve ever seen.
The image of a bright yellow bus taking eager kids to school has become a staple of representations of American school life – but this was not always the case. Before buses were a common sight in everyday life, children were taken to school in carriages drawn by horses – as seen in this picture, taken circa 1910.
While this was definitely a much slower way of getting to school, we’d definitely sacrifice the speed of a bus if it meant getting to pet a horse every day.
Speaking of school buses, check out this vintage model. The 1930s saw things speed up a little, and school buses would eventually become a much more common sight on the roads. In fact, by 1932 there were no less than sixty thousand school buses in the U.S., trundling around different parts of the country to take kids to their dreaded math lessons.
As can be seen from this picture, however, the buses of the 1930s were a far cry from current school buses – looking a bit more like stretched-out cars.
Now this is a gym class that we could get behind. During the first half of the twentieth century, there were a lot of funny ideas about the best way to exercise, and the equipment that would go along with that.
As such, we ended up with some rather strange contraptions – as seen in this picture from 1931. These students seem to have been saddled with a weird exercise wheel – and these kids are either trying to get a turn on it, or trying to free their trapped friend.
Just the type
As an extremely convenient way of writing a lot in a short time, typewriters were quickly adopted by businesses everywhere – which made proficient use of one an absolutely necessary skill. As such, numerous schools had classes devoted entirely to teaching students the art of typing – as depicted here in a picture from 1940.
No matter what classes you didn’t like at school, we can’t imagine anyone turning down the opportunity to listen to those cool clacking noises for an hour.
Regardless of what you thought of school, we think it can be agreed that some of the best moments in school came on those rare occasions when the teacher would bust out a TV set to beam some knowledge directly to students.
The more things change, the more they stay the same – as evidenced by this photograph from 1956, which shows a group of students being taught in the warm glow of a TV. Did we pay attention during these moments? No. Did we have a great time? Yes.
One of the biggest moves forward in terms of progress in America was the changing of laws so that schools could finally be integrated. This meant that anybody could attend a school regardless of their race, whereas before schools had been separated along such lines.
The photograph here is from 1957, and shows one such integrated class in the state of Washington. While this may seem normal today, just sixty years ago it was a huge move toward the direction of equal treatment for all.
This image might seem a little strange to us nowadays, but it was fairly commonplace in the 1940s. During the Second World War, Americans underwent rationing in an effort to save food, so that more might be sent to soldiers.
As such, people were given ration books that they could use to procure a certain amount of products. The importance of rationing was even taught in schools, with this photograph – taken in 1943 – showing a teacher conducting a lesson on how to shop using a ration book.
When people used to use the phrase ‘schoolhouse’ they weren’t exaggerating, as this picture demonstrates. Taken in 1888, it shows a group of children and their teacher, standing outside the one-room building that these kids would have attended to go to school.
Hence the name ‘schoolhouse’, some of these educational buildings really were more akin to small houses than the sort of school buildings we would encounter today. We have to say, we wouldn’t be particularly keen on the crowding that such limited space must have caused.
Climbing the ladder
When we said that schools in the past had some pretty strange health and fitness regimes, we weren’t kidding. This photo was taken in 1899, and depicts a phys-ed class in which students were in the process of using climbing equipment.
While the climbing equipment itself isn’t so weird, the fixed position they have to hold and the outfits they’re wearing certainly are. This looks more like an academy for the training of ninjas than it does a standard American phys-ed class.
In the earlier days of public schooling, there was a particular focus on being taught practical skills alongside theoretical skills. While this is the case to some degree nowadays, schools back in 1930 – when this photo was taken – really weren’t kidding around about wanting you to learn how to perform practical tasks.
This commitment can be seen in this photo, which shows a class of students at sewing machines, learning how to fix and make their own clothes.
Whenever a new technology comes into full swing, schools are always eager to have it tested in a classroom setting. We all remember the pain of watching our teacher try to figure out how to use an interactive whiteboard.
However, in 1950, you were likely to find a radio being used in a classroom – and that’s so simple that even a teacher couldn’t fail to use it properly. Here, we can see a class from 1950, listening intently to whatever information was being sent to them over the airwaves.
One of the key demographics that reflects what’s seen as fashionable is high school aged kids – with highschoolers constantly reflecting and directing the changing styles of the time. As such, it should come as no surprise that, when hippie styles of dress were becoming popular, they found a major audience in high school students.
In the late sixties, hippie fashion could be seen in high schools across the country, as evidenced by this photograph from 1969 – which shows several students rocking distinctly groovy looks.
A nice set of wheels
Now this is a particularly striking example of how time changes the way that people look at things. This is a photograph of a high school car park, taken in 1971. Nowadays, a lot of these cars would be vintage collectors’ items – but to the high schoolers who owned them, they would have been anything but.
At least one of these cars was undoubtedly thought by its driver to be a beat up old wagon, and half the other drivers would have picked a car because they liked the color.
Eye eye eye
Of all the pictures of a high school that we’ve seen so far, this is certainly the most alarming. This photograph – taken in the seventies – shows a high school science class undertaking an experiment. However, it also showcases a terrifying lack of protective wear.
These kids are playing with Bunsen burners and chemicals that smoke, but not a single one of them is wearing appropriate protective goggles, nor have the girls tied their hair back. School rules can seem a bit stuffy sometimes, but honestly, safety regulations are ones that we’re happy to follow.
This image is both extremely comforting and extremely upsetting. Taken in the seventies, it depicts the cafeteria in a high school during lunch time.
We have to say, it’s incredibly reassuring to see that the quality of food has barely changed over almost fifty years – with cafeteria lunches looking here like they came from a kid’s toy cafeteria set. However, it’s also disheartening to realize that several decades on, the quality of cafeteria food hasn’t improved even a little.
Passion for learning
Have you ever seen a pair of people less enthusiastic about what they’re doing? We haven’t either. This picture of a high school in the seventies depicts a pair of students examining the results of their experiment – and boy do they look excited to find out what the results are.
We don’t know if the reason for their lack of enthusiasm is because this photo is actually staged, or if it’s because they really just don’t care. Either way, we can’t really blame them.
There are a lot of things about old schools that we’re glad are no longer a feature of school life – so long, one-room schools and a lack of the appropriate safety wear. However, this might be the feature we’re the most glad to not experience.
Taken in 1942, this shows a class of American students engaging in the duck-and-cover maneuver, during a mock air-raid. Honestly, we’ll take an extra hour of math class if it means not having to squeeze ourselves under a desk any more.
Drive to succeed
If you’ve ever taken a driver’s ed class then you know exactly what’s going on here. Taken in 1947, this photo shows a class of prospective drivers being walked through the road signs that they’ll have to remember if they’re to be considered road-worthy.
While the methods used to teach this nowadays have been updated somewhat, it’s interesting to note that what needs to be taught remains very similar. Although, cars all the way back then only had a top speed of like, five miles per hour.