History is full of thrilling stories and incredible moments that we want to learn more about, but simply reading about them rarely does them justice. Pictures say a thousand words, and fortunately, some of the coolest moments from the past have been captured and preserved for us to admire.
We’ve gathered 40 photos from some of the most fascinating moments in the past. Prepare to see history like you’ve never seen it before!
A Son Salutes His Fallen Father, A National Hero
JFK’s assassination led to many memorable moments and stunning images, but one of the most hauntingly beautiful is that of his son saluting him at his funeral. John F. Kennedy Jr. was 3-years-old at the time, and as the fates would have it, JFK Jr. also died before his time when his airplane crashed and killed both him and his wife. He was just 39-years-old at the time of his tragic death.
Operation Crossroads Took A Toll
Over 216 nuclear tests were conducted by the United States in the 1940s. They were conducted in space, the atmosphere, and even underwater. One of the most awesomely destructive tests was performed at Bikini Atoll in 1946. It was called Operation Crossroads, and although it looked incredible in the photograph, it caused extensive damage to the atoll.
Love In The Middle Of A Riot
Sometimes love happens in the strangest of places, like in the middle of a Canadian riot as this photo depicts. The riot took place in Vancouver, Canada after the hockey team the Vancouver Canucks lost in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The two kissing in the photo didn’t know each other before this moment; the man simply bent over to comfort the fallen woman and the moment ended with them kissing. The beautiful ending to this story is that the couple has remained together to this day.
Marilyn Monroe Meets Queen Elizabeth
Two icons of the 20th century met in October of 1956. At a film premiere in London, the fates conspired so that Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth could meet. The photo captured is a gem that shows both women when they were just 30 years old. Queen Elizabeth is still alive and well at 90-years-old, while Monroe died in 1962.
Kennedy Getting Briefed On NASA’s Space Program
Cape Canaveral has been the home to many of NASA’s space adventures, and one of its most noteworthy is most assuredly the first manned spaceflight program: Mercury. President Kennedy was in attendance to watch astronaut John Glenn become the first American to ever enter space on February 20th, 1962.
The Afghan Girl With The Haunting Eyes
In 1984, a photographer from National Geographic captured a haunting picture of a woman in a refugee camp along the Pakistan/Afghan border. The picture ended up being featured on the magazine’s cover, and it engaged so many readers that the photographer returned to the area in 2002 to find the woman and finally hear her full story after many years.
The First Photo Ever Taken Of Machu Picchu
After being inhabited from 1450-1550, Machu Picchu went on to lie completely abandoned for hundreds of years. While locals were aware of the city’s location, the outside world had no idea it existed until it was officially re-discovered in 1911. This is the first photograph ever taken of the legendary city that sits 7,500 feet above sea level.
Star Wars Cast At A Diner
Star Wars has been one of the most successful film franchises of all time and has led to countless offshoots in books, merchandise, games, and more. Before it reached such massive heights, however, the original actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford were just some pretty ordinary kids at a diner in 1977.
Sean Connery And A Babe At The Beach
Sean Connery is in an exclusive club of actors that have played England’s finest (and most infamous) secret agent, James Bond. Clearly, life as Bond has some great benefits, like being able to lounge on the beach with one of your stunning costars. Connery went on to have an outstanding career as an actor.
Who Knew Clint Eastwood Could Skateboard
Almost everyone in America, and probably the world, knows who Clint Eastwood is. He’s been one of America’s best actors and has become an amazing director as well. His fame never stopped him from pursuing his many hobbies, and clearly, he even tried skateboarding at one point. Eastwood still acts and directs films at the age of 85.
Hanging Ten With Friends
The sport of surfing really took off in the 1920s with Tom Blake introducing it to California enthusiasts after learning how to surf in Hawaii. He built one of the first surfboards in 1929 and got a patent for it in 1931. After his style of boards came out, the sport started to grow in popularity and is practiced by millions today.
Even Elvis Needed Haircuts
Even from beyond the grave, Elvis Presley remains a huge influence on American music and culture. His career had many ups and downs, and he went from being a sensation to a shadow of the man he used to be. After becoming addicted to prescription medication, he was found on his toilet having overdosed on pills. He was 42-years-old when he died in 1977.
Salvador Dali Walking His Anteater
Salvador Dali is one of the most renowned painters of all time. His work mainly centered around surrealist painting. Besides being a famous painter, he was also well-known for loving hallucinogenic drugs and being a strange guy all round. Not only did he have a pet anteater, but he also walked it on public streets regularly.
Bob Marley Performing A Concert In Berkeley In 1977
Bob Marley is perhaps an even bigger legend today than he was when he first showed the world reggae music in the 1960s. His music remains widely popular, and his message of love, peace, and hope still acts as a positive influence on people that weren’t even alive when he was performing. Sadly, Marley died in 1981 due to melanoma cancer.
Ali Vs. Patterson
If someone made a list of the most amazing athletes to ever live, Muhammad Ali’s name would be near the top. He had a big mouth and fast fists during his boxing career, and he was commonly responsible for verbally taunting his opponents before a fight, something that was never done before his time. In this photo, Ali can be seen beating another boxer, Patterson.
A Soldier Tries To Save A Kitten
In 1952, Sergeant Frank Praytor of the Marines did something heroic besides already fighting for his country. He cared for an orphaned kitten named “Miss Hap,” who he said was simply born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thanks to Praytor, this kitten survived the war and eventually made its way back to the United States with another soldier.
Led Zeppelin Was Afraid To Fly
Two members of Led Zeppelin were strongly against flying — Jimmy Page and John Bonham. They hated flying with other people so much that they convinced their label into renting the band their own personal plane. Page especially had trouble flying, dedicating a private room on the plane to deal with his vertigo and psychosis.
Jan Rose Kasmir Protesting The Vietnam War
Jan Rose Kasmir wasn’t alone in opposing the United States fighting in the Vietnam War, but she was one of the 100,000 people that marched on Washington on October 21, 1967. The military was summoned to the scene and the protesters and soldiers clashed for two days, ending with 680 people being arrested.
Nixon Was Uptight, But He Shook Hands With Elvis
Presidents and celebrities have always hobnobbed in similar social circles, but Richard Nixon was an especially uptight person. That’s what made this picture of him with rebellious musician Elvis all the more ironic; but apparently, the meeting came at the request of Elvis. The photo shoot won Nixon some street cred, but it all dissipated when news of the Watergate scandal broke.
Jackie Robinson Was A Hero
1953 was a tumultuous time for racial equality. Jackie Robinson decided to fight the inequality by showing that people of all races could interact and exist together. He held a white & black all-star game in Birmingham, Alabama, but it backfired because the city officials told Robinson he couldn’t hold such an event. After discussing it with his team, they decided to drop the white players from his group. This pleased the crowd greatly and won the respect of the white players.
A Jazzy Portrait Of Miles Davis
Miles Davis is one of the world’s most famous musicians, and specifically the most recognized jazz musician of all time. He’s known for changing the game when it came to the trumpet, sharing new ways to make music with the world. Davis’ influence shaped the landscape of jazz music today.
The Untouched Tomb Of King Tut
King Tut’s tomb is widely considered to be one of the most famous tombs in the world, and its discovery brought a wealth of attention to Egypt and the incredible remnants of history such as the pyramids and the Great Sphinx. This photo was taken in 1922 when the tomb was first discovered in the “Valley of Kings” while it was still sealed.
The Beginning Of The Eiffel Tower’s Assembly
The Eiffel tower was intended to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution as well as be the focal point of the 1889 World’s Expo. The tower stands 300 meters tall, and in a feat of engineering, it was constructed in only two years. Gustave Eiffel is responsible for the design, and his plan was selected from 107 potential candidates.
Tech Gurus Bill Gates And Steve Jobs Were Pals
Although often considered to be pitted rivals, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were friendly enough to sit together and pose for a picture. Jobs created Macintosh, later transformed into Apple with Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates created Microsoft along with Paul Allen. It’s a rare sight to see two cultural icons like this together in the same moment.
Lunch Break On A Skyscraper
Many people walk the streets of New York City without realizing the sheer amount of effort that went into building its incredible skyline. This photo was taken in 1932 while some of the laborers building Rockefeller Center were having lunch 40 stories above the ground. These men can proudly take some of the credit for changing NYC’s landscape forever.
JFK On Air Force One
This picture shows the man that many considered to be one of the finest U.S. presidents of as he contemplates something deeply on Air Force One. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, bringing his presidency to a close earlier than it should’ve been. Many wonder what other great things he would’ve accomplished had he lived.
Elizabeth Taylor In Her Youth
Elizabeth Taylor eventually became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, playing key parts in films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Giant. Before all the fame and success, she was just a beautiful young woman trying to make her way in Hollywood. Sadly, Taylor died in 2011 due to congestive heart failure.
Cows Used To Sunbathe In SoCal
As is the case with many places, Southern California today looks nothing like it did in the early 1900s. Large cities and incredible topography mark the area now along with a reputation for being an expensive and overpopulated spot. At one point, though, the beaches were empty (besides the cows) and the landscape was relatively barren.
The Original Perfectly Timed Photo
Taken in 1900, this picture was captured at the perfect moment, hence its title as “The Original Perfectly Timed Photo.” The photographer either had great reflexes to catch this shot or he got really lucky. Some think that this photo was actually staged with the subject really being an actress practicing her sneezes. The truth is unknown, but it’s a memorable picture nonetheless.
The World’s Biggest Liger
Did you think a liger was made-up? Think again! This incredible animal is half lion and half tiger, and this one is actually the biggest in the world as supported by the Guinness Book of World Records. The beast, nearly 6 feet tall and weighing more than 900 pounds, is aptly named Hercules.
The Skateboard Revolution
Some photos are simply a case of the right time, the right place, and good instincts. Hugh Holland is the photographer that took this shot, and that’s what he claims helped him capture such an iconic moment: luck. When it was taken, skateboarding was only just beginning to grow in popularity in America. This kid skating down the Venice Beach boardwalk in 1975 is likely one of the early adopters that made it so cool.
Funny Guys Rodney Dangerfield And Redd Fox
Although they’re long gone now, the memory of comedians like Redd Fox and Rodney Dangerfield are firmly planted in people’s minds and the legend books. This shot was taken before the comedians took the stage at one of their shows. It’s a shame that they aren’t still around to make us all laugh, but they left a lasting impression on comedy and the world.
Failed Nuclear Test
This photo captures two disasters occurring at once, one being the result of the other. An unmanned US Navy blimp was flying through the sky when it was hit by a shock wave from the blast of a nuclear bomb being tested nearby. The site of both these disasters was Nevada and it all went down in 1957. The photographer is clearly a great example of being in the right time and perfect place to capture the moment.
A Heartbreaking Tale Of Brave Survivors
Smayeh Mehri and her daughter Rana Afghanipour were victims of a vicious attack from the husband and father. He threw acid at the both of them, after which they were permanently disfigured. Despite the sadness and pain they were likely both experiencing when this picture was taken, it’s clear that the love they share for each other is what fuels them to continue.
Hitler Posing In Front Of The Eiffel Tower
In 1940, one of the most infamous men in history visited Paris with some key people including the official state sculptor (as named by Hitler in 1937) and the “Architect of the Reich,” Albert Speer. When this photo was taken, Hitler was present in Compiègne, France for the signing of the Franco-German armistice.
Intense Chinese Government Training
The Chinese are well-known for being dedicated and hard-working when they set their mind to something, and the training regimen that their military officers go through is definitely no exception. This picture perfectly shows the rigorous training they have to endure which is mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging.
Jimi Hendrix And Joan Baez Relaxing Before A Show
Being a superstar is hard work, and apparently, taking a hit from what looks to be a bong is the right medicine for the job. We can’t say exactly what it is, but from the purely relaxed expressions on Jimi Hendrix’s and Joan Baez’s faces, it sure does seem obvious.
The President And His Mistress
Although it’s become world news since then, this photo taken in 1996 of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the White House would’ve seemed very innocent at the time. When the press found out that the two had become “friendly,” to say the least, there was an enormous backlash against Clinton and the movement to impeach him began and ultimately failed.
Real or Fake People?
This photo caused quite the outrage when it was first run in a newspaper, and people even wrote letters saying they thought it was too disturbing to show such an image. While people originally believed that it was a photograph of dead people during the Victorian Era, it was actually just a picture taken at a local wax museum after a fire had melted some of the sculptures.
Growing Up During The War
The juxtaposition of little girls playing with their dolls in a neighborhood in Munich while bombshells pile up around their home is truly captivating. The people of Germany had endless challenges during the war, and they were stuck sitting helplessly while Hitler oppressed them. This photo shows the struggle for normality even during an incredibly difficult time.