Weird News

40 Rare Historical Photos
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1. Mark Twain in the lab of Nicola Tesla, 1894 

Literary buffs and physics enthusiasts can get a charge out this photo taken long ago in the spring of 1894. It shows the literary giant of the 19th century, Mark Twain, tinkering in the laboratory of the great inventor, Nikola Tesla.  Mark Twain holds Tesla’s vacuum lamp, powered by a loop of wire that gets electromagnetic energy from a Tesla coil.

2. A Soviet soldier marches a German soldier into captivity after the Battle of Stalingrad WWII

Photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild / CC-BY-SA 3.0

This eerie photograph shows a Red Army soldier marching a German soldier into captivity after the Battle of Stalingrad—one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in the history of warfare, with more than 2 million casualties.

3. Titanic at Southampton docks prior to departure, April 1912

In this photo, the unsinkable ship of dreams can be seen in the Southampton docks, shortly before the doomed maiden voyage which would be one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history, with 1,514 people dead and the Titanic on the bottom of the North Atlantic.


4. Annie Oakley shooting over her shoulder using a hand mirror

Annie Oakley earned the nickname “Little Miss Sure Shot” by being the fiercest sharpshooter in the wild west. A star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Oakley turned her unparalleled marksmanship skills into worldwide fame.

5. Nine kings of Europe in the Windsor Castle, 1910

The Nine Sovereigns at Windsor for the funeral of King Edward VII, photographed on May 20, 1910

This iconic photo shows the nine European sovereigns at Windsor Castle during the funeral of King Edward VII. Standing (left to right): King Haakon VII of Norway, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, King Manuel of Portugal, Emperor William II of Germany, King George I of the Hellenes, King Albert of the Belgians. Seated (left to right): King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V, King Frederick VIII of Denmark.

6. A construction worker on the framework of the Empire State Building, 1930

This photo, which might give you vertigo, was taken back in the 1930’s during the construction of New York City’s Empire State Building, which began in 1929 and finished in 1931. 

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The roughly 3,400 construction worker, were a magnet for magazine photographers, which is how many iconic photographs of the construction work were created, like this one.

7. Polaroid photograph of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, taken an estimated one-sixth of a second after the fatal headshot

This tragic photo shows the split second after the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was fatally shot by the American Marxist Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, while riding in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza.

8. The bathing beach policeman measuring the distance between knee and bathing suit on woman 1922

This strange photo shows Washington policeman Bill Norton measuring the distance between a woman’s knee and her rather conservative swimsuit (by today’s standards) at the Tidal Basin bathing beach after Col. Sherrill, Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, issued an order that suits not be more than six inches above the knee.

9. Graham Bell at the opening of the first long-distance line from New York to Chicago in 1892

Why is this group of dapper gentlemen surrounding the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell, visibly ‘excited’ about a phone call? Well, this was not your average phone call—it was the opening of the long-distance line from New York to Chicago in 1892. Bell, the inventor of the telephone, made the first telephone call on March 10, 1876, to his assistant, Thomas Watson saying: “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.”

10. Unpacking the face of the Statue of Liberty – 1885

When the French steamer Isère arrived in New York on June 17, 1885 with the crates holding the disassembled Lady Liberty on board, two hundred thousand curious New Yorkers lined the docks to display their new-found enthusiasm for the statue. Here we see two fans of the statue, posing with the freshly unpacked face of Lady Liberty.

11. Last photo of Lenin, taken in 1923

After suffering three strokes in the span of two years, Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin was captured in his garden with a piercing stare, sitting paralyzed in a wheelchair, with sister Anna Ilyinichna Yelizarova-Ulyanova and doctor A. M. Kozhevnikov by his side. Lenin died on 21 January 1924, aged 53, at his estate at Gorki settlement, shortly after this photo was taken.

12. The first selfie, taken in 1839

An amateur chemist, Robert Cornelius, took this self-portrait in 1839 in the back of his family’s silver plating shop in Philadelphia 175 years ago. “The first light picture was ever taken,” wrote Cornelius on the back of the daguerreotype without knowing this would be the first evidence of what is now widely considered an exhausting trend.

13. A crowd outside The New York Times in 1921

What most likely looks like a swarm of straw boater hats, is actually a crowd of, “More than 10,000 fans gathered in Times Square outside the New York Times building to receive updates on the fight between boxers Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier,” in July 1921.

14. The Hindenburg over Manhattan on May 6, 1937, shortly before the disaster

The German airship Hindenburg, adorned with swastikas, flies over New York City on the afternoon of May 6, 1937, a few hours prior its historic, fiery crash in Manchester Township, New Jersey.

15. Members of the Young Pioneers, a Soviet government youth group, don gas masks as part of an attack preparation drill in the Leningrad area, 1937

In this haunting post-apocalyptic photo, members of a Soviet government youth group, the Young Pioneers, pose in gas masks as part of an attack preparation drill in the Leningrad area in 1937.

16. A woman condemned to death in Mongolia, 1913

This photo was taken in July 1913 by French photographer Albert Kahn and first published in the 1922 issue of National Geographic under the caption “Mongolian prisoner in a box.” The publishers claimed the woman was condemned to die of starvation as a punishment for adultery.

17. Interior of an old west saloon, 1889

This shabby place with intricate chair designs and a couple of unamused folks was a typical hang-out place in the American frontier. The first “real saloon” opened in 1822 and served drinks mostly to fur trappers.

18. The unbroken seal on Tutankhamen’s tomb, 1922

This photo shows the seal to the great Egyptian Pharaoh King Tut’s tomb. This was the fifth shrine in a series of four sarcophagi, which were in turn kept inside a series of five shrines. The seal remained unbroken for 3,245 years.

19. Photo of a samurai with katana, c. 1860

The Samurai were the military nobility of premodern Japan, known as Bushi. They later evolved to become the ruling military class of the Edo Period (1603-1867). The samurai followed an unwritten code of conduct later formalized as bushidō. Bushidō means “the way of the warrior.” The samurai armor was designed for mobility.

20. A pile of American bison skulls sits at an unspecified location, waiting to be ground down into fertilizer, c. mid-1870s

There were more than 50 million bison in North America before Europeans arrived in the New World. In 1884 there was roughly 325 wild bison left. They were hunted almost to extinction for their skins, and also for their bones which homesteaders collected and used for refining sugar or making fertilizer.

21. Titanic newspaper boy

On April 16, 1912, a newspaper boy named Ned Parfett went out to his regular spot to sell copies of the Evening News reporting the Titanic maritime disaster. Six years later, Parfett was killed during a German bombardment whilst serving in France, just days before the end of World War I.

22. Alligator Farm, 1920

A picnic at Los Angeles’ California Alligator Farm, where patrons were allowed to mingle freely among trained alligators from 1907 to 1953. Circa 1920’s.

23. Removal of liquor during Prohibition

When America entered the First World War in 1917, the national mood also turned against drinking alcohol. The 18th Amendment stipulated that Americans could not make, sell, or transport alcohol. Under the terms of the act, prohibition began on January 17, 1920.

24. A Native American telephone switchboard operator sits at work at Montana’s Many Glacier Hotel on June 26, 1925.

Helen, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, is photographed at Many Glacier Hotel in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Telephone operators of the time worked at hotels as well as exchanges. During this period, park concessionaires often required Blackfeet employees, including bus drivers and telephone operators, to be dressed in traditional clothing to appeal to eastern tourists.

25. Ku Klux Klan at a Ferris wheel  1926

In April 1926, 41 members of the Ku Klux Klan gathered at a Ferris wheel at Cañon City, Colorado, a stronghold of the group in that era.

26. An African-American man drinking at a “colored” drinking fountain in 1939.

This photo from a dark era of American History shows an African American boy drinking at a segregated water fountain in 1939.

27. The inventor of basketball holds an early ball and basket

James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, holds an early ball and basket used for the game at an unspecified date sometime prior to 1939.

28. Bonnie and Clyde in March 1933

Notorious outlaws of the Great Depression, Bonnie and Clyde spent two years together on the run. They gained national attention after photographs of the iconic duo were found at a crime scene in 1933. Americans became transfixed by the couple’s illicit romance.

29. Annie Edson Taylor, the first person who survived a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel on October 24, 1901

In an era of death-defying showmen such as Harry Houdini and Barnum & Bailey, a 62-year-old widow became front-page news when she crawled into a white oak barrel of her own design and tumbled down Niagara Falls in 1901. Annie Edson Taylor became the first, and oldest, person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

30. Marilyn Monroe photographed while working at the Radioplane Company in mid-1944

This photo shows young Norma Jeane contributing to the war effort in a military factory before she became the blond bombshell movie star better known as Marilyn Monroe. The photo was taken by David Conover in 1944, while he was on assignment for Yank magazine.

31. Mount Rushmore before constructioncirca 1905

South Dakota historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea of carving the likenesses of iconic people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region.

32. Rosie the Riveters – Women at work on a bomber during WW2, 1942

During World War II, American women on the home front stepped up in great numbers, taking over strenuous manual labor and handling complex, technical tasks. Women stepped in as laborers and engineers in tank factories, steel mills, and in the aviation industry. Their contributions became the inspiration for the government’s “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda character.

33. Child survivors of Auschwitz, 1945

This photo was taken at Auschwitz-Birkenau by Alexander Vorontsov, a Soviet photographer who accompanied the Red Army soldiers when they liberated the camp on January 27, 1945. 

34. Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin, 1931

Almost 90 years ago, the iconic comedian Charlie Chaplin attended the premiere of his newest film City Lights in Los Angeles accompanied by the world-famous physicist Albert Einstein and his wife, Elsa Einstein. Einstein had been traveling in the United States and was introduced to Chaplin during a tour of Universal Studios. The two men developed an immediate friendship, leading Chaplin to invite the Einsteins to be his special guests at this movie premiere. 

35. Al Capone’s soup kitchen during the Great Depression, 1931

During the Great Depression, thousands of Chicago’s jobless gathered three times a day in a long line snaking away from a newly opened soup kitchen. The kind-hearted philanthropist who had come to their aid was none other than “Public Enemy Number One,” Al Capone.

36. Wawona Tunnel Tree, June 1918

The Wawona Tunnel Tree was an iconic giant sequoia that stood in Yosemite National Park until February 1969. It had a height of 227′ and was 26′ in diameter at the base.

37. Howard Carter examining Tutankhamun’s tomb

This iconic photo depicts the British Egyptologist Howard Carter examining one of the most famous archaeological discoveries in history. Carter and his team found the entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamun on 4 November 1922.

38. Adolf Hitler as a baby (c. 1889–90)

At first glance, this old photograph of a baby could be any tot from the late 19th century. However, the cute innocent baby in the image is in fact a one-year-old Adolf Hitler, history’s most notorious villain, overseeing the Holocaust and millions of deaths during World War II.

39. Cow shoes used by Moonshiners in the Prohibition days to disguise their footprints, 1924

This old law enforcement photo from 1924, shows a police officer trying on a ‘cow shoe’ used by moonshiners to disguise their footprints during the Prohibition era. The moonshiners would wear cow shoes to avoid drawing the attention of any law enforcement looking for human activity in the woods.

40. Eiffel Tower under construction – May 15, 1888

January 28, 1887, marked the start of construction of one of the world’s most visited monuments, the Eiffel Tower. After 2 years, the iconic structure was finished in record time, considered by many as a veritable technical feat. On March 31, 1889, it opened to the public. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930. 



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