Historical Photos That Made The World Take Notice

A picture, rather than words, can elicit a buried memory and recall a precise moment in time. But why is that?

We are in awe of our history and heritage as we look at these captured moments. For many years, neuroscientists have known that humans have a remarkable ability to encode images. Our history has taught us invaluable lessons and provided us with many do’s and don’ts. It always gives us a sense of hope, strength, and, on rare occasions, even comedy.

1936: Public Execution

A public execution is a capital punishment that can be attended by the general public voluntarily. These executions are often done by the authorities to ensure accountability in society. In the United States, public executions were common. However, it eventually ended; as you can see in this photo, thousands of people witnessed the country’s last public execution. This photograph was taken in 1936.

In the past, public executions were quite popular. It was a common practice in the United States. But, in the end, it had all worked out, and a photo shows that the final public execution in the United States was witnessed by thousands of people who gathered near the stage to see what would happen. Rainey Bethea, a 27-year-old man, was hanged, and this execution is considered the last one in the history of the USA. He confessed to the rape and then murdered a 70 years old woman. He was publicly hanged in Kentucky.

1925: Vintage-styled isolation helmet

No, this isn’t the first Iron Man helmet prototype. It’s simply a technique for reducing distractions and increasing concentration. This helmet shown in the picture is impenetrable to sound or even oxygen. It’ll be challenging to look at your phone screen with those tiny eye slits. The author at work was able to concentrate on his private study with the help of an Isolator. An Isolator was a helmet that helped the wearer focus by limiting their vision, making them deaf, and providing oxygen.

The worker in this 1925 photograph was able to focus on their work. The primary issue for most students back then, as it is today, was being distracted by various things. Gernsback, a young engineer, discovered that if we remove all external distractions and focus solely on the book or piece of paper that students are reading or writing on, they will not be distracted. Based on his research, he discovered that sound was the most critical factor in this distraction.

1928: “Brookie”, the giant horse

The world’s most giant horse, Brooklyn “Brookie” Supreme, stood 6.6 feet tall, weighed over 3,200 pounds, and had ten feet. Brookie is the heaviest horse the world has ever had, despite not being the tallest horse. Brookie was born in Minnesota in 1928. This magnificent stallion is thought to have lived for 20 years, passing away on September 6, 1948.

He is descended from a famous red roan Belgian stallion horse breed known for its extreme oversized bodies and has won numerous state fair awards. Today, Brookie remains the giant stallion ever recorded in history and still impresses enthusiasts to date.

The Magnificent One Wheeled Motorcycle:

A Monowheel is a single-track vehicle with one wheel, similar to a unicycle. Instead of sitting above the steering wheel, the rider sits within or next to it. The wheel is a ring usually propelled along its inner rim by smaller wheels. Hand-cranked and pedal-powered Monowheels were built in the late 1800s; however, most Monowheels built in the twentieth century were motorized.

Monowheels are generally built and used for fun and entertainment today, though they were proposed as serious transportation from the 1860s to the 1930s. Swiss engineer named Mr. Gerdes designed this motorcycle in 1923. This motorcycle was designed to lessen fatigue and ensure a comfortable ride.

1926: White supremacist terror group at a local fair

Ku Klux Klan is a white American supremacist terrorist and hate group that primarily targets African American Jews, Asian Americans, and other settled groups. This group has committed and been remembered for spreading terrorism, both physical and murder assault. Every year, the Ku Klux Klan gathered in Canon City, Colorado, a former mining town. Clarence Morley, the governor of Colorado, was a Klansman, and Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton was also a member of the KKK.

So it was perfectly normal for the KKK to congregate in Canon City and enjoy the state fair like any other fairgoer, not to mention that the local fair get-together was the group’s stronghold. The Ku Klux Klan hung out at the merry-go-round and rode the Ferris wheel in this photograph taken in April 1926.

1860s: The Borneo Brothers

Waino and Plutanor, real names Hiram and Barney, were billed as The Wild Men of Borneo and were photographed in the 1860s. Despite being born in England and Ohio to American parents, they were given the backstory of being from Borneo to make them seem more exotic. The dwarf brothers were incredibly strong for their size, standing only 40 inches tall and weighing around 45 pounds.

Even though they were both born with mental disabilities, they outstripped each other in strength. At their peak, each of them was said to be able to lift 300 pounds. They were known for being able to lift extremely heavy weights and would frequently wrestle and win against members of the audience.

April 25, 1932:  Car Elevator Garage

Is there a parking space shortage? What else has happened recently? The car elevator garage comes in handy in this situation. You park your car and hope that no technical glitch causes any cars above it to crash. But, in all seriousness, the car cage conveyors were built to address a parking issue that Chicago faced back in the day (times have not changed). The vertical car park elevator was 105 feet tall, held 48 cars, and took up only 16’x 24′ of space on the ground, equivalent to 6 parked cars.

When the owner arrived to collect their vehicle, there were two attendants: one pushed a button to rotate the conveyor until the vehicle reached the ground level. The other pushed the button to turn the conveyor until the car reached ground level.

1959: Hertella Kaffeemachine 

In 1959, for both the v-6 and v-12 engine Bug models, Volkswagon, also known as “the people’s car,” added an accessory for coffee enthusiasts who like to brew their coffee “on the go.” The contraption cost 65 Deutschmarks, which, after inflation, equates to about $136 in today’s currency.

Coffee on the go 1959 in “modern day” vintage car

The cup was made of real porcelain and had a metal plate on the bottom to keep it on the magnetic plate that served as its holder. Although it was a fun novelty item, it was probably not practical, especially if the driver was inexperienced. It probably didn’t make the best cup of coffee, in fact, it probably didn’t make the worst cup of coffee, but it was hot and ready to drink whenever.

1890s: Charles R. Tripp, the armless man and Eli Bowen, the legless man, riding a tandem

Charles B. Tripp (July 6, 1855 – January 26, 1930), also known as the “Armless Wonder,” was a Canadian-American artist and sideshow performer. Tripp was born without arms in Woodstock, Ontario, but learned to use his legs and feet to perform daily tasks. Eli Bowen, also known as “The Legless Wonder” or “The Legless Acrobat,” was an American sideshow performer who lived from October 14, 1844, to May 4, 1924.

He was born with phocomelia, a genetic disorder that caused his feet to be attached to his hips, resulting in “seal limbs.” With the help of wooden blocks, he learned to walk on his hands and soon gained enough torso strength to begin experimenting with acrobatics.

1950s:  Miss “Atomic Bomb” winner

This photo shows soldiers crowning an American actress and singer, Linda Lawson as Miss Cue in 1955, after a series of tests called Operation Cue took place in Nevada. The soldiers got creative and assembled a tiara for her made of wire and cotton. In 1951, the US established the Nevada Test Site which set off 928 nuclear tests over the next 40 years located 65 miles from Las Vegas. In the 1950s was its heyday as not only by military personnel could observe the test also private citizens as well. The site was located only 65 miles from Las Vegas.

In the 1952 word got out and tourists started piling in to witness nuclear explosions. Of course in order to promote this military experiment first-hand, the hotels held beauty contest and everything from the drinks to the parties were ‘atomic’ and Vegas had earned the nickname “Atomic City.” At the time, thought officials claimed there was nothing to fear, people were clearly unaware of the potential risks of radiation exposure. IIn 1963, above-ground nuclear tests were banned. By that time, thousands of Vegas residents and tourists have been heavily irradiated. This resulted in a significant increase in cancer cases. Sadly this photo what this photo also captures the insensitivity shown towards the adverse effects of bomb testing being carried out in the USA.

1945:  Sleeping Dog

Not only are the dog’s man’s best friend, but they are also his oldest friends. Although historians do agree that dogs were the first domesticated animals, there is disagreement about how long ago the friendship began and where it began.

Based on DNA evidence, most researchers believe the furry, warm-nosed companion beside you descended from a group of grey wolves that has since become extinct. Those astute canines realized that if they hung out with early hunter-gatherers rather than going it alone, they could survive on what they could scavenge from the humans.

This picture from 1945 shows us how a dog is man’s best companion. This picture is a living example showing that dogs have been man’s best friend since 1945. A dog is seen sleeping between two Russian soldiers very comfortably in this picture.

1839: The First an Oldest Selfie

A “selfie” is widely considered to be the first photographic portrait ever taken. The Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” to be the word of the year in 2013, defining it as “a photograph taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” Although the technique’s widespread adoption is relatively new, the “selfie” (defined as a photograph taken of oneself) is far from being a wholly modern phenomenon. Indeed, in the early days of photography exploration and invention, when it was often more convenient for the experimenting photographer to also act as a model, the photographic self-portrait was surprisingly common.

1920: “Headless Horsemanning”

Horse manning is a revival of a photography fad popular in the 1920s that involves posing of two people so that they appear to be one body with a detached head. Horse manning, or impersonating a beheading, was a famous photographic pose in the 1920s. The Headless Horseman, an evil character from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” inspired the horse manning photo craze, sometimes spelled horse manning.

The oldest known photograph of horsemanship, shown below, was allegedly taken in 1920… We haven’t been able to find any evidence that this photograph is as old as people claim.

Swim Mask of 1928:

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you got stung by a jellyfish while swimming? In 1928, a full-face swim mask was designed. It was originally made to keep the face safe from jellyfish stings, but it also provided sun protection later on. Swimmers who use backstroke as their preferred swimming style may experience severe sunburn due to water droplets on the skin acting as lenses.

When other treatments for stings and sunburn became available, the face mask’s production ended, rendering it obsolete. This mask is not used now by swimmers. Indeed, it had an incredible purpose back in history.

1894: Genius

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), a Serbian-American engineer and physicist, made dozens of breakthroughs in producing, transmitting, and applying electric power. He developed AC generation and transmission technology and invented the first alternating current (AC) motor. In the spring of 1894, Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens) visited Nikola Tesla’s laboratory.

Tesla’s experimental vacuum lamp, powered by a loop of wire receiving electromagnetic energy from a Tesla coil, is held by Clemens (not visible). In the background, Tesla’s face can be seen. Mark twain is one of the best friends of Nikola tesla.

1999: Amazon, the early days

If you’re the owner or co-founder of a lean startup, you’re no stranger to humble beginnings and bootstrapping your company to success. We’ve all heard startup success stories. Some people have lived in their cars to give themselves a chance, and others have maxed out a dozen credit cards.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO and Founder of Amazon is one of the most impressive of these humble beginnings. The image above depicts the world’s richest / second wealthiest man in his office in 1999 (along with Bill Gates, depending on Microsoft and Amazon stock prices on any given day). This marketing genius launched his company in the mid-to-late 1990s when the internet was just getting started; he was mocked at first but quickly gained traction after the advent of social media.

1922: Actual photo of Albert Einstein lecturing on the Theory of Relativity

Albert Einstein’s primary claim to fame is that he devised the theory of relativity. This theory revolutionized the world’s understanding of time, space, gravity, and the universe. Einstein’s theory of relativity determined that the speed of light within any vacuum would remain the same regardless of the speed at which the observer is traveling.

Moreover, it propagated the concept that the laws of physics didn’t change for non-accelerating observers. This photo you see is special because Albert Einstein is explaining his theory of relativity himself. We have no idea where this lecture took place, but we believe it is his office. The theory of relativity generally encompasses two interrelated theories also devised by Einstein. One is special relativity, and the other is general relativity, which he published in 1905 and 1915.

1921: Caged Motorcycle

This photo is unbelievable because it shows that even motorbikes can also be caged just to transport prisoners. Doesn’t it look hilarious to you? Today, even dangerous prisoners are transported in a better manner than this. Have you ever seen how prisoners were taken from the court to the jail?

It involves a seemingly never-ending parade of trucks and cars to take prisoners to prison. But, back in the early 1900s, things weren’t as complex and demanding. All that the cops had to do was put the prisoner inside this cage, and the deed was done. This photo was taken when Los Angeles police were busy creating a revolutionary carriage combining the appearance of Harley Davidson with a standard prison cell sidecar. This jail cell was actually designed to prevent traffic offenders and intoxicated drivers and not for prisoners, though. But, let’s suppose if something like this is launched today, the civil rights advocates would have a field day, no?

1939: Family Bicycle

Currently, we have giant-sized caravans, SUVs, and luxurious vehicles to go on a family picnic or camping. But this family is a novelty because these people didn’t want to spend money on fuel as the family was big, and a bigger car would cause them more fuel costs. Now that’s what we would call an ideal way to travel together.

So, to make their trip cost-effective, they decided to create an innovative carriage comprising bikes. The most interesting part about this creation is its utter versatility, as one can even pass leisurely time conveniently by stitching clothes. That’s an incredibly innovative way to travel without impacting the environment, don’t you think so, provided it can move.

1932: Cigarette Advertisement

Cigarette advertising has traditionally been a tricky task, given the controversial nature of the product. Still, the cigarette marketing industry is booming, with the leading cigarette and smokeless tobacco firms in the USA spending over $8.2 billion in 2019 on tobacco ads. This makes us wonder what sort of advertising would have been back when cigarettes gained popularity for the first time.

Do you know when the first cigarette ad appeared in mainstream media? It was way back in 1789 when a tobacco ad appeared in a New York newspaper, and it didn’t take much time to spread across the pond. The image you see here is one of the most interesting tobacco ads to make it to media outlets. What’s with the cat standing upright and giving us notorious looks? We bet people wouldn’t have felt compelled towards investing in cigarettes after watching this ad. What do you think?

1960s: NASA before PowerPoint

Here, you see how NASA employees used to work when the space agency was launched in the late 1950s. This photo was taken when the agency was 2-years-old in 1960. At that time, NASA was busy launching rockets along Florida’s east coast, and Project Mercury was already underway.

One year later, NASA launched the first-ever American Alan Shephard on a suborbital flight on 5 May 1961. On 20 February 1962, John Glenn became the first American ever to orbit Earth after he was lifted off from Launch Complex 14 aboard an Atlas rocket. NASA has definitely come a long way since these times, as you can clearly see. Still, we cannot overlook the humble beginnings of this world-famous space agency.

1938: Salvador Dali & Coco Chanel

During the 1930s, two figures who made headlines for their unusual pairing and intensely growing friendship were an unlikely couple- Coco Chanel and Salvador Dali. Would you believe these two had grown so fond of each other that they eventually had an affair? When they met, both Chanel and Dali were iconic figures in their respective fields of work. Their friendship is noted as the most unusual yet impressive one in art and fashion history. In 1926, Dali moved to Paris, where Chanel was also a hugely influential fashion designer. Dali had also worked in the fashion industry.

He collaborated with Elsa Schiaparelli, and after meeting Chanel, he got more exposure in the industry. Chic and elegant Chanel introduced Dali to many diverse things, from theatrical costume design to jewelry and everything in between. Their friendship was dubbed unusual because Dali was pretty eccentric while Chanel was subdued and sober. Perhaps, their mutual fondness for smoking is one of the things that brought them together

1950s:  Lobster Walking

We all regularly see people walking their pets, but usually, they are dogs, cats, and pups. Some may even walk lions and foxes. But have you ever seen anyone walking a lobster? If you don’t believe it, this photo taken in the early 1950s is proof of that.

Are you wondering how that is possible?

That’s indeed possible. According to researchers, the lobster exhibits a unique walking pattern just like many decapods. It can walk in almost any direction using all or a subset of its ten walking legs. It is amazing to see the coordination of numerous legs in lobsters, which occurs due to an interaction between their controllers. Another interesting fact is that lobsters can swim forward and backward using the swimmerets and flips of the abdomen. This locomotor system gets activated by the stimulation of command neurons.

o much space. I’d rather have a lobster on a leash. 

1963: Young Boy At MLK’s Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. is not a stranger to anyone in America and worldwide. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, King emerged as the most prominent and influential proponent of the American civil rights movement.

Here you can see a little kid listening to what can be termed as King’s most memorable and famous speech- I Have a Dream. King delivered this speech in 1963, where he spoke of his dream of racism and discrimination-free United States. King was a bold activist and used his incredible preaching powers to lead and inspire hundreds and thousands of African-Americans and even other ethnicities to stand up and fight for their rights in the Civil Rights movement. The speech I Have a Dream played an instrumental role in spreading his message to a broader audience.

1900s: Woman Caught Mid-Sneeze

She might even be crying, but isn’t this a gold meme mine. 

1933: Double-decker Bus “Tip Test”

This photo shows a strange phenomenon happening- a leaning double-decker bus. Isn’t this a rare sight? And, it is a pretty risky way to test the bus’s safety standard if that’s what’s happening in this photo. For your information, the first double-decker bus was invented in 1853 in Paris. At that time, it was a horse-drawn omnibus.

As the population grew, a desperate need for more buses emerged, and companies competed to create better and more advanced versions of double-decker buses. Initially, a double-decker bus’s upper floor was uncovered. Later the first double-decker motor bus was manufactured in Paris- Schneider Brillié P2. It appeared first in 1906 and was designed to let more passengers. This model replaced the horse-drawn omnibus. Then in the early 1920s, the first-ever engine-powered double-decker version made its debut in London.

1950s: Bear Cub

Poo bear’s end up getting all the attention. But I think bear’s eating from a bowl is pretty darn cute too!

1959: Paul McCartney selfie

Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer, musician, and songwriter. McCartney gained worldwide fame as the co-lead vocalist, bassist, and co-songwriter for the famous musical band The Beatles. McCartney is regarded as the most successful performer and composer of all time. He had a melodic approach to singing and bass playing. McCartney’s versatile singing and wider vocal range made him a legend in the music fraternity.

We cannot still forget the songs he wrote and composed with John Lennon, as these are the singles that were most successful in music’s history. Here you see the young Paul McCartney trying to take a mirror selfie probably. He is looking as fresh and charming as ever. No wonder he was known as the cutest Beatle in the group.

1987: Power Line Rescue

You might want to believe that this photo is the real inspiration behind the iconic scene in Spiderman where the protagonist kisses the heroine. But, in reality, it is a desperate rescue effort underway on an electricity pole. That’s an incredibly courageous effort, to be honest. That’s why it was dubbed the Kiss of Life.

This photo is proof of the effectiveness of CPR as well. Here, a utility worker tries to save his co-worker’s life, who seemingly is having a heart stroke. The worker is giving his co-worker CPR because he has contacted a high voltage wire. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a widely used lifesaving technique. It is most helpful in countering emergencies, such as drowning and heart attack. We have no idea whether this effort was successful or not and if the colleague survived.

1955: Desk of a Genius

We all know how influential Albert Einstein was regarding the laws of physics and overall scientific knowledge. Einstein was a die-hard science enthusiast, and his desk is proof of that. The legendary scientist was so busy creating his theories that he never got enough time to clear his desk.

As you can see, Einstein’s desk is messy and filled with stuff. This photo was taken in 1955, right after Einstein’s death, and provided us a glimpse of the century’s biggest genius’s work ethic. Albert Einstein contributed greatly to the field of science. He not only developed the general theory of relativity but improved the world’s understanding of the universe at large. He dedicated 40+ years of his life to academia, for which we and our future generations will always be thankful.

1914- Debut of Harley Davidson

This photo is believed to be of Harley Davidson’s founder duo- William Harley and Arthur Davidson, and it marks the debut of the first motorcycle they ever built. In other words, it is believed that this was when Harley Davidson’s first-ever bike was officially launched.

However, there are doubts over the authenticity of this claim. The photo first appeared when it was posted on a website dedicated to rare, historic photographs of Harley-Davidson motorcycles by Ross Hollibaugh. Though Ross was not sure about the origins of the image per se, he did clarify that this wasn’t the photo of the company’s founders but of his relatives who were used to model for the motorcycle. Ross further explained that this photo was captured in Minnesota at a Harley-Davidson dealership.

Davidson, 1914.

1930s:  “IterAvto”

Meet the Iter Avto, the first-ever auto navigation system in the world. This system was introduced in 1932, and it used a map on a scroll. This huge device was connected to the vehicle’s speed to help it move in the direction of the map at the correct scroll rate. Iter Ayto came with a set of road maps.

The thing that irked us the most was the absence of voice prompts. Wouldn’t it be quite difficult to follow the directions of this system without a sound? Perhaps that’s how technological advancements start. Iter Ayto worked on a relatively simple system. Its screen manually scrolled paper maps attacked to a cable resembling a modern speedometer to make the map’s scroll rate proportional to the car’s speed. The issue was with turns, as when the driver had to turn the vehicle, they would need to change the map and find their current location.

1971: Bill & Hillary Clinton

Hillary and Bill Clinton are regarded as one of America’s most admired couples mainly because they have spent a good amount of their lives together. In this photo taken in 1971, you see a very young and energetic Bill and a stunning Hillary posing for the camera. This was when their relationship had just begun.

Do you know how the two met? The future president of the United States and the country’s first lady were studying at Yale Law School when they first met each other. Their first meeting happened at the university’s library. At the Democratic National Convention 2016, Bill Clinton shared his feelings about Hillary when they first met in these words:

“She exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic.”

1940s: All this technology is making us anti-social

The years between the 1940s and 1980s are regarded as the golden age for the newspaper industry as people had grown increasingly fond of reading newspapers. Hence, this was an ideal chance to make money, and all involved in newspaper firms benefitted greatly. If you have any doubts about this claim, check out this photo. All the people on the bus are busy reading newspapers. You can say that today the same fondness is for smartphones but back then, when technology was

The 1940s to 1980s was the ‘golden age of news for newspaper owners, as money-makers, and journalists to make news. But this golden age title was reserved for a certain group of people. Minority groups and women had little opportunity to see themselves represented in news or to contribute to it.

An F-18 Super Hornet breaking the sound barrier

Powerful and unreal.

1950s: Dog Man

This would definitely be a hit on Instagram. Cause why stop at just sunglasses, when you can go all the way. 

The 1959 Bowden Spacelander, one of the cooles bicycles ever built

Looks cool but all that weight and no gears? No thanks.

1950s: Women At A Party

We want black and white filters, and they needed a coloured one. The only difference being, it takes us just seconds, and it took them half a century.

1930s: Zookeeper At Work

It’s NOT a penguin plant! The summer’s just too hot for him!

1961: Dog Shaving

Welcome to our Bow-rber shop. Here, you can choose from 25 different styles. 

On the set of Jaws

This is the never before seen image from the set of one of the most perfect movies ever made when a killer shark was terrorizing a little beach community, Jaws from director Steven Spielberg. This was taken at Martha’s Vineyard in 1974.

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