Powerful Historic Moments in Photographs
The Statue of Liberty Under Construction
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable landmarks of New York City and a site everyone wants to visit when in the city.
This colossal monument was a present from the people of France to the people of the United States to mark the 100th birthday of the great nation of America.
The legend has it that the idea for such an impressive gesture came from the Frech artist Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi in 1870 while he was on a ship sailing to New York.
Bartholdi envisioned the great image of liberty inspired by the Roman goddess Libertas, greeting him at the entrance to the city.
It didn’t take too long for him to put his idea into action, but it did take over 15 years for the statue to be revealed in New York Harbor.
The Beatles' Last Photo
One of the most influential bands of all time ever is the Beatles.
They were and continue to be adored by millions of fans from all over the world.
Their popularity and fame have never faded, even though they stopped performing together almost a half-century ago.
In their ten-year-long career, they made some of the most memorable songs ever, released more than 20 albums and played hundreds of concerts. T
They were the first global superstars, so it’s no wonder why their last photo together is one of the most famous rock photos ever taken.
It was captured on August 22, 1969, in John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s home, only two days after the last music recording session the Beatles held together.
Tiananmen Square's Tank Man
The Tiananmen Square Massacre is another powerful event which shook not only the people of China but the whole world.
It all started as a peaceful student demonstration for democracy but ended up in blood and terror after the Chinese government decided to send police and army troops to the streets of Beijing against the unarmed demonstrators, in June of 1989.
This image is known as the Tank Man and it shows an anonymous peacemaker who dared to stand alone in front of the advancing tanks and tried to stop them, but he was forcibly taken away from the scene.
His identity remains unknown, but Time magazine listed him as one of the “100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.”
Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy Briefing
The Cuban Missile Crisis was the first direct and without question the most threatening conflict between two superpowers of the cold war – the United States and the Soviet Union.
It was about the secretive deployment of missiles to Cuba by the Soviets in the fall of 1962.
The world was on the brink of a nuclear war. Great efforts had to be made to avoid the tragedy of global proportions.
This image shows a detail from that period — a briefing of President John F. Kennedy at the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex in Florida, on September 11, 1962, together with Vice President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
Kathrine Switzer Runs the Boston Marathon
The history of the Boston Marathon is long and rich with outstanding records of some of the best runners in the world, unforgettable and often historical moments and game-changing events.
One of them is captured in this photo. It shows Kathrine Switzer, a true heroine of running history.
For a very long time, the Boston Marathon was a male-only event. Women were not allowed to participate in this race, so when young Kathrine decided to run it in 1967, she had to register as the gender-neutral K. V. Switzer to get an official race number.
Her astuteness helped her to start the race, but she needed more than that when Jock Semple, the race’s co-director, realized that a woman with the number is running the race, and tried to physically to remove her from the marathon.
With the help of her boyfriend and other runners, she managed to break away from Semple and finished the marathon.
Source: Kathrine Switzer, Marathon Woman
Ruby Bridges Changes America for the Better
When Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African American girl, started her first day at a white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960, it was a shock to everyone.
The fact that she was escorted by a team of U.S. Marshals to and from school tells a lot. Almost all of the parents of the other children from the school were against it, and most of the teachers too.
The only person who agreed to work with little Ruby was Barbara Henry, a teacher from Boston.
For over a year, the two of them were the whole class. Ruby had to eat alone at school and didn’t have any friends there for a very long time, but that didn’t stop her from graduating.
Ruby became not only a symbol of the civil rights movement but a human rights activist herself.
Liberating a WWII Death Train
When the Second World War finally came to an end after six years of destruction, death and terror, the victory of the allied forces was undoubtedly glorious.
Some of the liberation troops’ discoveries during the final days of this war brought a bittersweet taste to it.
On April 13, 1945, Major Clarence L. Benjamin and his war companions went patrolling the area around Magdeburg and only a couple of miles from the city they came across a large group of frightened, starved and tired men, women and children standing by a roadside.
These people were Jewish prisoners sent from the death camps onto the death trains for the final journey. Fortunately, this turned out to be their journey to freedom.
Titanic Survivors at Sea
Considered the most extravagant ship ever seen at that time, Titanic was an engineering wonder and the most prestigious way of traveling.
Everyone wanted to be on it for its maiden voyage, but only about 2,222 people got the chance to board the ship and sail out of Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912.
Unfortunately, the dream of sailing on the best ship ever built, the unsinkable Titanic, didn’t last very long.
Only four days after leaving the shores of England, the ship collided with an iceberg and sank in less than three hours. Many people died in this tragic accident, but some managed to find their place in lifeboats and escaped death.
Source: Titanic Sinking
Sweden Switches Sides (of the Road)
Whenever annoyed by a traffic jam in your city, remember this image and you’ll probably feel a little bit better and maybe even amused by it and the story that stands behind this photo.
Taken on September 3rd in 1967, this fantastic snapshot depicts Stockholm’s Dagen H (‘Högertrafik’) on the first day when the Swedish drivers were supposed to switch the side of the road from left to right.
Even though the action plan was carefully prepared with clear instructions and the precise schedules of what was about to happen that Sunday in the capital city of Sweden, the people’s habits won over the new rules, at least for a while.
The confusion on the streets of Stockholm was massive that day, but it turned out that this shift actually decreased the number of accidents on the roads of this Scandinavian country.
Neil Armstrong, After the Moonwalk
The man who made one small step for himself as a man, but took the giant leap for humankind, is no one else but Neil Armstrong.
He was one of the first people in the history of humanity, along with Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin to land on the Moon, taking a famous walk on its surface along the way.
This epic event happened on July 20, 1969, and it is probably one of the most exciting moments ever witnessed.
The whole world was watching in awe when Apollo 11 landed and waited for Armstrong to step out and share his impressions, famously summarized in one sentence.
We bring you the photo of Neil Armstrong sitting in the module after his celebrated moonwalk.
British Baby Gas Masks
At the end of the 1930s, Europe was already at war, but the worst was yet to come.
Many countries were trying to take measures to protect their civilians from the horror that was about to happen, and the U.K. was one of them.
In anticipation of the German air strikes and the use of gas bombs, the British government decided to provide gas masks for their entire population, babies included.
The masks were first distributed in 1938, and people had to carry them in the boxes all the time. The hospitals were organizing special drills for their staff and their patients.
This photo shows one of those drills. It’s a gas mask testing conducted in 1940 in a British hospitals.
Hoover Dam Supervision From the Sky
Building a dam is a long and labor-intensive process, even now in these technologically advanced times.
A century ago, it must have been an incredible venture!
The growth of the southwestern part of the United States at the beginning of the 20th century demanded large investments and capital projects.
The Colorado River needed to be tamed and controlled by a dam.
The decision of building the dam in Black Canyon was made in 1922, but it took several years for Congress to approve the project. The construction of the Hoover Dam began in 1931.
This photo was likely taken in 1935 and it shows officials overseeing the work and while riding in a penstock pipe. The construction was completed in 1936.
Nikola Tesla at Work
Nikola Tesla was not just a scientist an inventor, but an ingenious man with a vision.
He was a true Prometheus of modern times, and this world owes him so much.
He is best known for his enormous contributions to electrical technology, and some of his greatest inventions include Tesla coil, magnifying transmitter, induction motor, Tesla turbine, alternating current, even the radio (although this invention is sometimes attributed to another scientist).
Most of his inventions are actually the results of the countless experiments done in his New York City lab, and this photo depicts one of them.
It is called “The inventor at rest,” and it shows Tesla coil, but due to double exposure, it also shows the scientist himself, even though he wasn’t sitting there.
New York City's German Helmet Pyramid
The end of the First World War was largely celebrated throughout the world, but one of the most striking images from the after-war period that shows the scale of it was taken in New York City in 1919.
This photo depicts a huge pyramid made of over 12,000 German helmets, better known as Pickelhaubes.
The helmets were collected from warehouses all over Germany and sent overseas at the end of the Great War.
This unique temporary monument was built in front of Grand Central Terminal as a part of Victory Way staged on Park Avenue to help raise funds for the 5th War Loan, but also to showcase how epic and grandiose the victory was.
The Wright Brothers Take Off
The Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were two brilliant minds whose curiosity, creativity and persistence finally took humankind where it always dreamed of going – straight into the sky.
These two great inventors were some of the pioneers of aviation, who were the first to design, construct and fly the first fully-functional airplane ever.
This image shows the historical moment of their first flight, taken just a few seconds after their aircraft took off.
This groundbreaking event took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.
The records say that Wilbur flew the plane for 59 seconds at the height of 260 meters (852 feet) which was more than enough to enter the history books.
Source: Wright Brothers
The Prohibition Police
Prohibition in America all started as an attempt to prevent alcohol consumption and its production and distribution in the early 1920s, but it wasn’t as easy as the temperance movement thought it might be.
Regardless of the law, people would still try to find their way to purchase alcoholic beverages in illegal bars and secret distilleries.
Moonshiners were everywhere, but so were the police forces who were after them.
This image shows New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach and his agents destroying the alcohol they have found in an illegal distillery after a raid, most probably in 1921.
Apollo 16's Family Photo
There are not many events in the long and exciting history of humankind that can be compared with the Moon landings.
Those amazing missions were not just major successes and a breakthrough for the NASA space programme and space technology in general, but they became a symbol of overall achievements and hope as expanding the boundaries of the Universe became reality.
After Apollo 11, many other missions followed, and one of them was Apollo 16.
Apollo 16 was the third and last flight to the Moon for astronaut Charlie Duke, who decided to mark the occasion by leaving his family photo on the Moon’s surface while exploring the Descartes Highlands.
Jesse Owens Salutes America
Another historical image from the 1930s taken in Nazi Germany that illustrates the defiance to Nazi ideas and their values shows Jesse Owens, an American athlete who won four Olympic gold medals in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
This particular one depicts Owens proudly standing on a podium and saluting the American way after winning first place for the long jump, in front of the second-place German Lutz Long.
At the same Olympic games, Owens also won the races in the 100 meter, 200 meter and 4×100 meter relay, and set the three world records, proving Hitler’s idea of Aryan racial superiority absolutely wrong.
The Woodstock Generation
The Woodstock Music Festival is one of the most important events in the history of modern culture.
It began on August 15, 1969, and it lasted for three days.
More than half a million people gathered near Bethel, a small town in the state of New York, to hear some of the most progressive musicians of that era, from the Grateful Dead and The Who to Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
It turned out to be much more than just a rock concert.
Woodstock became a symbol of rebellion for a generation who didn’t want to settle down and just take whatever the establishment was willing to offer.
Instead, they wanted changes and didn’t hesitate to (peacefully) fight for it during the counter-culture movement of the 1960s which began with Woodstock.
The Hungarian Revolution Propaganda Pyres
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was one of several related movements that rose across the Eastern bloc after Josef Stalin’s death in 1953.
It all started as a student protest against Russian rule over their country, but it soon exploded into a real revolution of citizens who wanted to liberate themselves from the repressive influence of the Soviet Union.
This photo shows a detail from the streets of Budapest during that troubled time.
It captures a young Hungarian revolutionary as he stands with a rifle in one hand while pointing to a burning pyre of books, propaganda materials and newspapers with Lenin’s name on some of them.
Source: Hungarian Revolution
The Nazi Who Wouldn't Salute Hitler
One of the most famous images captured during the Nazi rule in Germany dates from 1936 and depicts a man who defied to salute the Fuhrer with the mandatory greeting of raising the right arm.
This man’s name is August Landmesser, and his story is awe-inspiring. He refused to hail because of love.
August was an ordinary working-class man who, just like many others, joined the Nazi party in 1931.
Only two years later, August fell in love with Irma Eckler, a young Jewish woman.
Their love wasn’t just impossible back then in Nazi Germany, it was illegal. Their marriage application was denied, but the couple refused to part.
They kept their love alive for as long as they could before they both got swallowed by a war.
Abraham Lincoln Standing Tall
One of the most significant events in American history was the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War.
It lasted about 12 hours on September 17, 1862, and took over 23,000 lives. But it also led to a Union victory.
This photo was taken only two weeks after this great battle, on the same site of Antietam.
It shows the President and Commander in Chief,
Abraham Lincoln, standing in front of a tent with General McClernand and Allan Pinkerton, Chief of the nascent Secret Service.
The photographer’s name was Alexander Gardner. He was a Scottish-born immigrant, who worked for the famous photographer Mathew Brady for seven years before the Civil War.
He became a sort of war photographer who is known for taking several famous photos from that time, including this one.
The Mona Lisa Returns Home
When it became clear that the whole of Europe would be dragged into war, an extensive evacuation of art collections was organized throughout France, starting in 1938.
The Louvre was officially closed on August 25, 1939, due to “repairs,” but the real reason was for a three-day-long relocation of paintings and other artifacts to safer locations in the French countryside.
Some of the records show that the famous Mona Lisa was taken out of the Louvre on August 28 and her whereabouts during the war remained unclear, but one thing is sure – the smiling maiden returned home to the Louvre on June 16, 1945.