These historic pictures give us a glimpse into the way things used to be. What will see here is a boutique collection of some of the most historic touching, monumental images to be captured by photographers within the last century. Some hold their weight in the grand scheme of politics and history, while others reveal the more carefree days of an affluent America in its heyday.
You have to hand it to the guy in this 1923 photograph holding his hands up in the air. Would you have that same smug look on your face after three policemen just fired their revolver at you point-blank? Keep in mind, these guys were still testing bulletproof vests at this point to make sure they worked!
Today, we have a fair amount of confidence in the reliability of our bulletproof accessories, but back in the olden days, they were still a novelty. Conventional armor had to be tested on live subjects before it would be worn and widely accepted by police officers. Most of us don't think about what went on behind the scenes of an invention like this, but pictures such as this one help us appreciate what these men had to endure.
Going Out On A Ledge
This questionable daycare solution probably wouldn't fly these days. As a parent, one can sympathize with needing a break from the kids now and then, but hanging your child out the window of a skyrise building probably isn't the best idea. On the other hand, maybe these old school parents were on to something. Here we see the scandalous image of a baby sitting in what was known as a "baby cage", meant to assure that children were getting their daily dose of fresh air and sunlight.
1937 was a challenging year for some babies who happened to live in high-rise apartment buildings, but they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. We wonder what the kid had to say about that when he saw this picture years later! Seeing as there are no modern day versions of these clever contraptions, it's safe to say manufacturers thought of better ways to promote health.
Lady Liberty Unmasked
Whether or not the woman in this photograph is the same as that whom the statue's countenance was modeled after is unclear. The face of the world renowned Statue of Liberty is captured here in a timeless, rarely seen photo. Without the rest of the body, it seems completely out of context. French architects assembled the magnificent structure piece by piece before shipping it to the United States as a gift where it would rest forever on display in New York City.
Taken in 1885, this photo is shows the way women and children dressed in France during that time period. The close-up image also allows us to see aspects of the engineering process, and the grave features of the statue's expression.
Elvis Joins the Armed Forces
Before he was "the King of Rock and Roll", Elvis Aaron Presley was a hero of another sort: a bona fide American soldier. The uniform he's wearing in this old army photo isn't quite the same as the one we're used to seeing him bust his signature moves in, but he manages to look sexy nonetheless. Here we see a young Elvis join ranks with his fellow servicemen as they patrol around the base.
Stardom and immortality were yet his to claim when this photo was captured in 1958, quite a long time before Elvis' career skyrocketed, and before he met his wife-to-be Priscilla. One of the most distinct aspects of this photograph is Elvis Presley's expression, the look of a young man on duty before fame's powerful influence.
Charlie Chaplin Sans Mustache, Makeup & Hat
One reason we are fascinated with raw, real-life images of the rich and famous, such as this 1916 photo of 27-year-young Charlie Chaplin, is because they bring the usually unattainable figures down from their lofty pedestal to the lowly level of the average, everyday Joe. We crave to share something in common with our idols, to know that we can be like them, or that they are somehow more like us.
Here we see Charlie Chaplin with unruly hair and a stubbly face. During the silent film era, Chaplin became a worldwide icon as a silent film stooge, filmmaker, composer, and writer among other things. His comedic style has inspired generations of actors and artists.
Iconic Airship Goes Down In Flames
Everyone has seen one version or another of this awful scene which took place on May 6th, 1937 when 36 souls lost their lives in the Hindenburg Disaster. Something about the photograph's morbid, artistic quality burns the image into our minds, making it forever memorable. The disaster occurred when the German airship caught fire as it attempted to dock at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey.
The dramatic event is marked by explosive photographs, newsreel coverage and eyewitness testimony that was recorded and played back over the radio. 62 passengers lived to recount the details of the harrowing day. Images such as this are at once beautiful and terrible, a confusing juxtaposition of emotions as our hearts go out to those who suffered.
Tear Down The Wall!
Before the infamous Wall of Berlin could be brought down, it first had to be built up. Here we see a rare account of facist soldiers as they construct the Berlin Wall in 1961. That's not that long ago. The concrete barrier that separated East Germany and West Berlin would later serve as a poignant symbol of both oppression, and hope.
A physical and ideological divider, the sinister German Democratic Republic designed wall aimed to segregate the Western part of the city from the Eastern side. If you look closely, you see the appalled folks on the west side of the wall staring in dismay as their city is literally split in two. We an only hope that the human race has evolved since this disgrafeful era.
World's First Plastic Surgery
Yeo, a brave English sailor during World War I, was tragically burned during the course of duty. Later, when the opportunity to reconstruct his face presented itself, he boldly volunteered, not knowing what the result would look like. The chance to have his looks restored must have been very alluring.
This kind of advanced plastic surgery was unheard of at this point in medical history, making Yeo's case the very first. Without previous examples to base his decision on, Yeo must have been quite nervous as to what the outcome of the procedure would be. As we study the before and after images, it's debatable whether or not the surgery was a success, as is often still the case with modern plastic surgery. Yet, Yeo's case help set the stage for what would become a very successful, and profitable, industry.
Marshall Measures For Appropriate Swimwear
Is it appropriate for the elderly marshall in this picture to be measuring the distance between this woman's knee and her lovely swimsuit? It most certainly would not be today. It would be humiliating to be stopped on the beach to be measured by the beach police. Back in the 1920s, however, there was a marshall on every beach who had the power to make sure each woman's bathing suit was long enough, so as not to be considered indecent.
Should a woman be caught wearing a swimsuit that was too short, she could be fined. We've come a long way with women's rights in the last hundred years.
Prisoners Escorted From Alcatraz
Not exactly the star spangled freedom they had hoped for, but at least these coated prisoners were able to escape the remote confines of the notorious island of Alcatraz. The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, located in the cold and foggy San Francisco Bay, was one of the highest security prisons in the United States until its closure in 1963.
This black and white photo displays the last of the solemn inmates being shuffled along glossy floors from what is now a major tourist attraction on the day it was slated to be closed. The slammer was deemed unreliable and dangerous after several inmates violently escaped in the summer of 1962.
Hamming It Up
The first primate to be launched into space wasn't a human being, it was Ham the Chimp. This photo was captured in 1961 before Ham's trip to and return from space, proving America’s space initiative to be a rocketing success. Don't you love his outfit?
Things could have gone south for Ham the Chimp, but as luck and fancy engineering would have it, his name now stands for eternity in the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center. For the flight, Ham was specially fit with a custom bio-pack couch to assure he wouldn’t get hurt from the impact. It's comforting to know the thoughtful scientists were so concerned with his well-being.
Prohibition Makes A Big Splash
Many of us cringe at the idea of being wasteful, but during Prohibition, authorities saw fit to dispose of untold gallons of beer and booze by dumping the liquid in the street when alcohol was banned across the States. This sad photo shows a waterfall of alcoholic beverage flowing from barrels into the street. We know a few guys who wish they had been there with a bucket.
Growing concern over alcohol's affect on people's behavior, and the consequences therein, led to the Eighteenth Ammendment of the Unitied States Constitution. The period of prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933, resulting in much thirst, and a profitable black market for racketeers.
Just A Friendly Snowball Fight
These brilliant Princeton University classmates make us proud as we look back at their accomplishments. Don't worry folks, what you see below isn't the result of an immature barroom brawl, but rather the more reassuring consequence of a less-than playful snowball fight. Clearly in 1893, without the internet to entertain us, snowball fights were taken much more literally than they are today. Alas, these freshman and sophomores were to be immortalized in this photograph not due to their elite stature and high upbringing, but rather due to their sheer stupidity.
The injuries seen sustained in the photo were incurred by the raw force of their throws! There should be rules as to how hard a snowball can be. Two of the three men in this photo can’t see from one eye, while the other has an open wound. Taking a closer look, one can almost detect a slight sense of mockery and pride in their brutal achievement. Boys will be boys, or so they say.
What Women Have To Deal With
If you feel infuriated when gazing at this image, you're far from the only one. It's difficult to believe that men would treat women this way, but the picture says it all. In a history-making caption, male participants are caught attempting to stop Kathrine Switzer from completing her Boston Marathon run in 1967. It would take a lot more than that to stop this commendable heroine.
As history would go on to show, the feable attempts by these men to halt Switzer were unsuccessful. Further, she became the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon, and a role model to all females fighting for gender equality. Happily, many of these sexist situations no longer plague America, and nothing can stop a woman from climbing to any height. Incredulously, women continue to be reppressed, and must continue the struggle for equal treatment across the globe to this very day.
Tragedy Befalls The Titanic
The heart wrenching tale of the majestic, highly acclaimed Titanic cruise ship, and its shocking demise, is one known around the world. This foretelling photo is the last known of the R.M.S. Titanic as it sailed from Southhampton on April 10th, 1912 on what would be a sinister voyage to New York City, a destination it never reached.
On April 14th, at 11:40pm, 1,500 men, women, and children succombed to icy waters when the Titanic, in a twist of fate, hit an iceberg that punctured holes through the frontal area, ultimately causing it to sink. Although the famous vessel was lauded for its size, beauty and craftsmanship, there was one major flaw: not enough lifeboats to accommodate the 2,224 souls on board.
Peace, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll
At least, that's how most of us think of Woodstock. There may have been some drugs involved as well. In 1969, a massive throng of over 400,000 people swarmed the land in Upstate New York for what would become a colorful page in the history books: The Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
This groovy aerial shot shows the mass of free thinking tree huggers enjoying the festivities. It must have been quite a sight to behold as the enormous gathering of diverse characters expressed themselves without inhibition for 3 days straight.
A Chance To Walk
The science of prosthetic limbs has taken leaps and bounds since its conception. The image below shows what prosthetic legs looked like in the 1890s. While neither discreet nor comfortable looking, imagine what it would have meant to a 19th-century disabled person, in this case a war veteran, to be able to stand on their own two feet.
The prosthetics legs, connected to the upper body for support, were custom-designed to fit the person but must have been horribly heavy and awkward to walk with. Modern-day engineering and the use of new light-weight materials have taken the world of prosthetics to a whole new, much more comfortable level.
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
These words would arouse the curiosity of anyone back in the early 1900's. In this instance, the news was not good. This photo, dated April 16th, 1912, shows a young newspaper boy, Ned Parfett, standing on the sidewalk selling copies of the evening paper. No one could have suspected what they were about to learn.
News of the disastrous sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic shocked the world. Most people believed the mighty Titanic to be unsinkable, a flagship that's sheer size made it invincible. Those naive beliefs were shattered, and the public had to face the traumatizing reality that 1,500 lives had been lost at sea.
One of the select few guitar legends of all time, Jimi Hendrix left a tidal wave of influence for generations to come with his unique style and raw talent. The artistic image below was taken shortly before his untimely death at the tender age of 27 in 1970, while he was still at the peak of his calling, and with so much more to offer. Though his life be short, his legacy will endure.
Hendrix was an extremely gifted musician, singer, songwriter, and performer who made a name for himself as one of the most highly skilled guitar players to date. He was inducted into the illustrious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his formidable contributions to music and culture throughout his career.
Standing Up For His Rights
The Nazis were known for being merciless, but nothing would keep this idealistic young man from standing up for human rights, even as he faced armed men from behind a barbed wire fence. This powerful photo shows a POW confronting Heinrich Himmler, one of the leading members of the Nazi Party.
One of the reasons this image is so striking is that the shirtless young soldier is not sitting like the rest of the prisoners of war, but standing in defiance. Himmler looks somewhat baffled that, even from his incarcerated position, this pesky soldier has the gaul to stand up to him and his men. Could that be a glimmer of admiration from the Nazi standing behind Himmler?
Delivering Milk Between Bombings
And with a smile on his face to boot! Now that's customer service. Between September 1940 and May 1941, The Blitz was taking place. German air strikes flattened England as the conflict between the two nations grew to a frenzy. People still needed their milk, and this man served his country well.
Somehow, with complete destruction all around him, the milkman manages to keep his bottles safe and his jacket white. Being that it's England, anything less would have been improper. Give this man a medal and a round of applause for his dedication to the cause.
Living In Fear
Jewish prisoners waiting for the train at the internment camp knew that they were catching a ride to impending death. Not many of us can phathom what this must have been like. At the moment of their release in 1945, this image was captured. Allied forces rallied to defeat the Nazis, liberating those poor souls you see in the photograph.
At the top of the image, it reads, “The photograph inserted below was taken by Major Benjamin at the moment the first of the refugees at the train became aware of their liberation and started to move up the hill toward our troops.” A mother and her little one are saved from doom.
Woodstock: 30 Captivating Photographs Showing the Real Experience
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair of 1969 is one of the most - if not the - famous music festivals to ever take place. Despite the somewhat rag-tag set-up, it featured some of the world's most famous musicians at a time of enormous cultural upheaval and change. If you weren't one of over 400,000 attendees, enjoy these fantastic photos that show us how it really was...
The Line for the Music Festival of the Century
We’re all familiar with the traffic caused by a major event and the endlessly snaking line to get into a hot party, yet none can compare with the chaos caused by hordes of people trying to get into Woodstock in 1969.
The music and art fair has gone down in history as one of the most popular (and infamous) rock festivals ever hosted on American soil. This photograph, snapped by Owen Franken, shares a brief glimpse into the urgency of getting to the Bethel farm property in New York. The line extends beyond the photo frame, and party-goers settle in for the long haul.
Everyone Is Welcome to Rock Out at Woodstock
Woodstock welcomed all sorts of characters to dance to the music and mix with fellow revelers — from hippy-dippy hipsters to groovy dancers and dirty hooligans. As this photograph by Ralph Ackerman shows, Woodstock also welcomed monkeys!
Flanked by a beautiful, smiling woman, this cuddly monkey seems content to sit in the middle of the group. The hairy mammal even smiles at the camera while scratching its butt. Considering how wild the festival would get, it’s not surprising there were real animals in the crowd!
Taking the Party to the Streets
While typical rush-hour traffic manifests as a hole in the head, this traffic jam is a social event in its own right. Party-goers sit bumper-to-bumper on the road to Woodstock Music Festival, which promised unlimited euphoria from 15-18 August 1969.
As the cars extend beyond the horizon, groovy individuals mingle among the cars. No one seems particularly disturbed by the long line, but rather the crowd seems to be happy with using the road as the venue for the pre-party before arriving at the main event.
The Poster Couple for Woodstock Festival
As far as iconic photographs from Woodstock go, this picture snapped of Nick and Bobbi Ercoline is the ultimate depiction of the festival. When this photograph was taken, the couple was just a pair of young kids in love, sharing a tender moment. The photograph would later be shared with the world by being printed on the festival’s album cover.
It’s been more than half a century since the photograph was snapped, and Nick and Bobbi are still in love. As Nick shares, he was “Just getting up in the morning, standing up, giving my girlfriend a hug. I don’t even remember the picture being taken, honestly.”
Lucy in the Field of Litter
By nature, musical festivals and parties are hedonistic, and party-goers chase a self-indulgent high. So, it should come as no surprise that the Woodstock party animals threw their rubbish where they stood rather than seeking out a sustainable way to get rid of their trash.
Luckily, the dirty environment didn’t seem to bother the masses, who were more than happy to cuddle up in their sleeping bag, surrounded by empty beer bottles and mysterious waste. We can only imagine how good that first shower back home must have felt!
A Snap Shot From the Woodstock Documentary
Michael Wadleigh’s documentary Woodstock offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the festival experience, revealing the perspective of casual attendees and glorified rock stars. In this still frame from the documentary, you can see the enthused dynamic between bassist David Brown and drummer Michael Shrieve while performing with Santana.
The pair seem entirely in the zone and caught up in their music, ensuring they give the crowd what they want. While Santana was one of the lesser-known bands to take the stage, they were one of the favorites by the end of the festival!
Making the Most of a Messy Situation
When you’re camping in the elements with hundreds of thousands of people, you learn to roll with the punches. Without proper shelter and sanitation stations, it wasn’t long before the muddy ground got slippery and wet (due to various dubious reasons).
However, festivals have a playful way of bringing out the inner child, and the slick mud quickly became a form of entertainment. As it turns out, the mud was actually a mix of dirt and feces, taking the idea of sliding through the slop to a new level of nasty.
A Place to Jam and Showcase Talents
As with most modern music festivals, Woodstock had different sections of entertainment. In this picture, snapped by Ralph Ackerman, a group of men hang around nearby the ‘Free Stage,’ which was set aside for scheduled performers to jam and festival-goers to flaunt their talent on the open mic stage.
The decorated school bus was used as a home base by the Hog Farmers, a group of men who were tasked to construct the venue, ensure security and provide food for the event. Judging by the solemn look on their faces, these lads would rather be partying up a storm than follow through with their responsibilities.
Revealing the Secrets of the Ambient Sound
The legacy of the Woodstock Festival continues to be shared and circulated by word of mouth, popular literature, and documentaries. Real-life audio and documented footage from the event exist today, thanks to guys like this!
The sound guy walks through the crowds near the Free Stage, armed with a microphone and NAGRA, picking up on the whispers and shouts of the crowd. We can only imagine the fascinating stories he has to tell (some of which he may choose to keep to himself).
Richie Havens Has the Honor of the Opening Act
As far as exposure goes, Woodstock was an incredible platform for musicians to showcase their talent and win the hearts of the crowd. American musician Richie Havens stepped up on stage and opened the event, earning his place in history as the opening act at Woodstock.
The talented singer’s style blends folk, soul, and rhythm and blues, with his sultry voice accompanying the rhythmic guitar. Richie Havens made the audience proud and even composed a festival-inspired song called Freedom which was immortalized in the documentary film.
A Gallery of Photographs Tells a Selection of Stories
Woodstock Festival ‘69 is not only known for its epic selection of musical acts but also for the art that was displayed around the venue. Take this gallery of photographs hanging from a chain link fence as an example!
The black and white photographs were captured by photographer Ralph Ackerman, who was also working the grounds and documenting the wild and wacky moments of the festival. In a moment of inception, Ralph Ackerman used his older, existing work to feature his next gallery of images.
The Original Poster That Attracted the Crowds
Marketing such a huge festival is a mammoth challenge, and the Woodstock organizers had their hands full trying to create captivating marketing collateral — and they hit the nail on the head. Popular artist David Byrd was tasked with designing the original poster for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and he did a brilliant job.
Describing the event as An Aquarian Exposition, the poster's graphics allude to the trippy experience that Woodstock had in store (minus the clean flowing water in the center of the poster). The poster also offers insight into the time, revealing how the notorious festival was moved from the original location of Walkill to Bethel.
Taking Spectatorship to New Heights
It’s no secret that festivals are cramped and crowded. Unless you’re being squished at the front of the stage, then there’s little chance that you’ll get an up-close view of your favorite musician. Today, there are large high-definition screens that are clear enough to see the sweat dripping on the musician's face — but this wasn’t the case at Woodstock in 1969.
Desperate to get to a better position, these festival-goers climbed the sound tower to secure a better viewing point. While it may not be the safest option, it certainly offered a superior vantage point!
A Three-Day Woodstock Ticket
Take a moment and consider that a Tier 1 pass for general admission at Coachella starts at $449 — before fees! Festivals weren’t always as pricey as they are today. The purpose of Woodstock was to appeal to the crowds and encourage the everyday person to purchase a ticket, which is why a three-day ticket to Woodstock cost as little as $24, which equates to roughly $194 today.
There’s something nostalgic about this photograph of the Woodstock ticket with basic font, simple paper, and a to-the-point design. Now, this is one for the scrapbook!
Liquid Gold at Woodstock Festival
If you’ve ever spent a night drinking, dancing, and singing your heart, you’ll be familiar with waking up to a parched and dehydrated throat. Revelers at Woodstock Festival were no different and lined up at the water trucks to quench their thirst — but there was just one problem…
While there were hundreds of thousands of attendees at the festival, there were only five water trucks. In this photograph, thirsty festival-goers line up at the milk truck to fill their makeshift containers. The limited resources at the event made water a hot commodity.
The Grassy Camping Area Is a Rally Ground
If ever there was an event where “everything goes,” then Woodstock Festival is it! Without any rules and a very loose structure, it’s not surprising that people were climbing towers and running out of water. Added to the mix is the sight of Woodstock organizer Michael Lang riding his motorcycle through the grassy camping area.
Around the promoter, people hover about and put up their tents. Whether or not these flimsy constructions held up against the chaos that followed is unknown…
A Little Bit of Folk Mixed With Rock
Arlo Guthrie was only 19 years old when he stepped onto the Woodstock stage and performed for half a million people. The folk-singing icon had no idea how crazy Woodstock would be, and he describes the event as a “spontaneous combustion.”
In this photograph, you can see the innocence and carefree attitude held by the young star. Arlo shares his opinion on music today, saying, "When I started in 1967, the entertainment industry was run by people who knew how to make records and films and TV shows. Now it’s run by people who love money. I think the arts have suffered greatly, because the entertainment industry now has corporate giants looking over their shoulders.” We can't argue with that!
Photographer Jim Marshall Sits in Front of the Lens
Many of the great, iconic photographs captured at Woodstock are credited to legendary photographer Jim Marshall. In a rare moment, Jim stepped in front of the camera, and his image was snapped by fellow artist Ralph Ackerman.
The groovy photograph shows Jim Marshall dressed and ready for action, with his sunnies to block the glare and his jacket to hold his gear. It’s time to make the magic happen and capture the crazy shenanigans of Woodstock ‘69.
Going to Extremes to Get the Job Done
There are a few key elements needed to make a success of a music festival: musicians, sound equipment, and a stage. When Woodstock Festival was flooded by attendees revving to get to the stage, workers had to adapt to get the job done — just like this sound guy!
Ralph Ackerman snapped a photograph of a sound guy and his equipment on scaffolding. Surrounded by a sea of people, his elevated platform is the perfect perch for him to work on the production sound.
The Nurturing Side of Women at Woodstock
It’s a well-known fact that security was limited at Woodstock, with roughly a dozen police officers managing a mob of approximately 400,000 people. Luckily, there were a few medics on the scene in case of an emergency, and it’s suspected that the women in this photograph were nurses.
Dressed in lavender t-shirts with their hair neatly tied up, there’s a strong chance that these women were health professionals called out to help with the emergency situation. Needless to say, the scene was a far cry from the hospital!
Taking the Mustang to the Party
In many ways, Woodstock was a mirror for society at the time. With an emphasis on peace, love, and rock and roll, the event spoke volumes about the generation — and so does this decorated Ford Mustang.
Hosted during a time when a large portion of the country was fighting the Vietnam War, Woodstock offered a reprise from the harsh reality of life, and people were free to express themselves. This picture of a man beaming from inside a Mustang branded with antiwar messages is the epitome of the era.
Don’t Poop Where You Sleep
Farm fields aren’t designed to withstand a stampede of excited party-goers, and the farm in Bethel will never be the same after hosting Woodstock Music Festival. Between the litter, traffic, and harsh weather, it’s not surprising that the fields transformed into a churned mess.
The fact that people lay down and relaxed on the sordid ground suggests either the dirty environment didn’t bother them or that they were desperate for a break. Judging by the look on the one guy’s face, we’d guess he’d rather be in bed and sleeping on clean sheets.
Not Quite How a Tent Is Built…
It’s all fun and games until someone lands on their head, and even then, it’s still fun when you’re at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. These three fellas were in the process of putting up the frame for a tent when they thought it would be a better idea to hang from the bent metal tubing.
Luckily, these guys are on the smaller end of the spectrum, and the structure seems to be holding their weight. If it broke, it would be a deeply regrettable mistake once the rain set in!