40 Rare and Interesting Historical Photos

Image: IMAGO / Everett Collection

Rare photos are like hidden gems that capture amazing moments in time. They allow us to get a glimpse into another time and place. A time before we were born, a time that we don’t want to forget, or a time that we want to experience over and over again.

1. A fearless worker standing on the original cables of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1935.

Image: IMAGO / UIG

This picture shows the construction of the massive 1.7 mile-long Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933 as a new way for travelers to quickly get from the San Francisco Peninsula to the Marin Headlands. The view overlooks Presidio and San Francisco. This photo was taken long before the giant safety nets were added.

2. Four icons sitting at a table, 1969

Image: IMAGO / Cinema Publishers Collection

You probably have recognised these four iconics stars. Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon, the members of the Beatles.

This picture was taken in 1969, the same year the albums Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road were published. The following year, 1970, will mark the last album of the band and its dissolution.

3. Focusing on a brain-teaser, 1936

Bild: Imago / UIG

These women seem extremely focused on something. If you look closer, you might notice the brain-teaser game they are looking at.

It used to be called the 15 Puzzle. A frame contained 15 stones, numbered from 1 to 15, and an empty spot. The stones could not be taken out of the frame. You had to slide the stones in order to put them in the right order.

4. All lined up for inspection, 1936

If you are paying attention to the detail on this picture, you might be able to guess the period it was taken in.

It was taken briefly before World War II. These women are members of an association promoting the health of unmarried women, and later on, the health of their children. This association was supported by the national socialist government, as the women’s uniforms suggest.

5. Short skirts, 1965

These two young women were photographed in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1965. The photo shows that their fashion contrasts a lot with the habits of the other persons.

These young women had adopted the mini skirt, that had just made its appearance, but was already causing scandals all over the world.

6. Annie Edison Taylor was the first person to successfully ride over Niagara Falls in a custom-made barrel.

Image: IMAGO / United Archives International

Taylor was a school teacher from America that used this stunt to gain fame and fortune. She had a custom barrel made that was fully padded and water-sealed on the inside. She dangerously floated over the Falls on her 63rd birthday in October of 1901. She survived with no injuries.

7. Anna Nicole Smith and billionaire second husband, J. Howard Marshall, Engagement

Image: IMAGO / Everett Collection

There was a lot of controversy over 26-year-old Smith marrying her 89-year-old billionaire husband. She claimed it was for love and that she was not a gold-digger, but people were skeptical. Marshall died in 1995, only four short years after their wedding from pneumonia. She fought to receive his money.

8. It was common to smoke in hospitals in the 1950s.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The thought of smoking in a hospital is insane, but it was normal just a few decades ago. Doctors, nurses, and even patients smoked in the hospital. Cigarettes were sold bedside for patients to smoke in their rooms because they believed that smoking aided in calming patients and suppressing appetites.

9. Philadelphia traffic cop manually operating a traffic signal in early 1922.

Not long after cars were invented, accidents happening at intersections were getting out of hand. The solution was a device that would tell drivers when to go and when to stop, forcing them to take turns. This was done manually by an officer until it was upgraded to be automatic.

10. Marilyn Monroe entertaining soldiers in Korea during her honeymoon in 1954.

Image: IMAGO / Everett Collection

Monroe and husband, Joe DiMaggio, celebrated their honeymoon in Japan shortly after their wedding in California. While there, Monroe flew, alone, to Korea to help support the troops by putting on ten shows over four days. She hoped that this would boost morale for the soldiers during a dark time.

11. John Lennon sniffing a bottle of Coca-Cola in the movie “A Hard Days Night.”

Image: IMAGO / United Archives International

There are two types of coke, the drug and the drink, and John Lennon was familiar with both. In the movie, “A Hard Days Night,” Lennon makes a joke referencing the drug by sniffing a bottle of the drink. It’s surprising that the film industry let this little joke pass.

12. The “Loneliest Road in America.”

Route 50 is a major east to west highway in the US that spans from Maryland to California. It was nicknamed “The Loneliest Road in America” by Time Magazine in 1986 for its long stretches over vast vacant land. The nickname stuck and it has been called that ever since.

12. All-star basketball player, Shaquille O’Neal, standing next to a wax statue of the world’s tallest man.

Image: IMAGO / Pacific Press Agency

Shaq is tall, standing over seven feet, but he looks tiny next to this life-sized wax model of Robert Wadlow. Wadlow was the tallest man in recorded history at almost nine feet when he passed away at the young age of 22. He was almost two feet taller than Shaq.

14. The men who built the original model of the Starship Enterprise from “Star Trek.”

Image: Tom Simpson’s most interesting photos on Flickriver

This amazing model was designed by art director Matt Jeffries for the long-running hit show “Star Trek.” It has been used in multiple Star Trek episodes and spin-off shows. This spacecraft was fully restored and donated to the Smithsonian Space and Air Museum in 1974. It is still there today.

15. A woman standing near a giant gap created by a massive earthquake in 1906.

Image: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

A shift along the San Andreas Fault line in San Francisco caused a magnitude 7.9 massive earthquake in 1906 destroying a lot of the city and leaving a large split in the earth that stretched over 250 miles. The giant gap was even nearly 21 feet wide in some areas.

16. Young Robin Williams sitting on his mother’s lap in 1957.

Image: Imago / Everett Collection
Film: Dead Poets Society

Williams must have inherited a lot of his talent from his beautiful mother, Laurie McLaurin. She was a talented model and actress for most of her life and always encouraged her son Williams to follow his comedic dreams. His goal when he was a child was to make her laugh every day.

17. 19-year-old Jimi Hendrix in the US Army in 1961.

Image: Unknown U.S. Army personnel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Before Jimi Hendrix became a legendary rock star, he was a paratrooper in the US Army. He joined the army as punishment after being arrested. He was given a choice between jail or the military. He chose the military until he was honorably discharged because he had issues with authority.

18. John Matuszak transforming into Sloth for “The Goonies” movie in 1985.

Image: IMAGO / Cinema Publishers Collection

One of the most beloved characters from “The Goonies” was the gentle giant, Sloth. Played by former NFL star, John Matuszak, who passed away four years after the film was released. This larger than life character was an instant favorite. Matuszak’s makeup took hours to create each time they filmed.

19. Father and daughter riding vintage-style Penny-Farthing bikes in the 1930s.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Although this photo is old, the bikes pictured were already out of style when it was taken. The Penny-Farthing bikes, also known as high-wheeled bikes were popular in the late 1800s before being replaced with modern bicycles. Named after British coins where the penny is much smaller than the farthing.

20. Professional Knocker Uppers tapping on windows in England.

Before alarm clocks existed, the people of England hired others to tap on their windows with long sticks to wake them up for work each morning. This profession lasted into the late 1920s in England. This was a great job for elderly people or folks looking for a second income.

21. Six-time champion bloodhound, Leo, patiently accepting a hug from a little girl.

Image: Imago / United Archives International

Leo of Reynaldo was a beautiful six-time champion bloodhound of Birmingham, England in 1935 at the Crufts dog show. Bloodhounds make for great pets because they are very patient with children and other animals. They are also great trackers and seekers by nature because of their wonderful sense of smell.

22. John Denver on the TV special “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”

Image: IMAGO / Mary Evans
Film: Oh God

This television special aired on ABC in 1977 and featured a night full of musical legends like Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, and Glen Campbell. Denver started the show by singing an acapella version of the iconic country song and was soon joined by the other performers and the entire audience.

23. Funeral of King Edward VII brings together a very royal bunch.

Image: Photographed by W. & D. Downey., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After the passing of King Edward VII in London, nine reigning kings from all over the world attended his funeral. It’s said to be the only photograph in history of that many reigning kings that has been taken together. It’s sad that this once-in-a-lifetime photo happened because of a tragedy.

24. Author Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, in 1909.

Image: IMAGO / glasshouseimages

Famous writer of novels “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer,” had many pen names before adopting the name Mark Twain from a very unique place. “Mark Twain” was a Mississippi riverboat term that Clemens liked. This became his final pen name that he used until he passed away.

25. Monowheel style vehicle called the Dynasphere

Image: Nationaal Archief, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

This crazy-looking vehicle was invented in the 1930s by a British inventor named J.A. Purves. It was modeled after a design drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. It would have been more successful, but it had a braking flaw that allowed the vehicle to stop, but the driver would spin inside. Have a look at the next photo, ancient Mayan solar calendar pyramid!

26. Ancient Mayan solar calendar pyramid.

Image: IMAGO / YAY Images

This ancient Mayan solar clock and calendar, known as Pyramid of Kukulcan, was built to mark the change of the seasons. It was created using astronomy and architecture in mind. Its smart design uses the sun to cast shadows that resemble a snake crawling down the side of the pyramid.

27. The very first Harley-Davidson motorcycle ever made.

Image: IMAGO / Xinhua

This motorcycle was built in 1903 in a shed by William Harley and the Davidson brothers in an attempt to create better off-road bikes. Since then, Harley-Davidson has become the most iconic motorcycle company in the world. This original bike model now sits in the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

28. The original Moulin Rouge Cabaret in Paris, France.

Image: Stéphane Passet (d. 1942), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This famous cabaret was built in 1889 in Paris, France. Serving as a music-inspired entertainment theater where people could drink, dance, and watch live shows. Sadly, it burned down in 1915 but has been rebuilt for hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to visit each year.

29. A perfect London morning.

Image: IMAGO / United Archives

London, England is well-known for its dreary weather and this photo perfectly represents the traditional “foggy London” image. Including the intricate architecture of the buildings and the Big Ben clock tower in the background and the double-decker bus and people wearing long black pea coats on the snow covered bridge.

30. The tallest man in recorded history.

Image: IMAGO / UIG

Robert Wadlow was an astounding 8’11 when he passed away at the age of 22. He was born in Illinois and was given the nickname Giant of Illinois. He was born with a rare medical condition that caused him to keep growing. He was not done growing when he died.

31. Dolly Parton and husband of 54 years, Carl Dean.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The Queen of Country, Dolly Parton, moved to Tennessee to get her singing career off the ground in 1964. She met her soon-to-be husband the same day she got there, in a laundromat. They started dating and married two years later. They have been happily together in love ever since.

32. Robin Williams visiting a homeless shelter in Boston, Massachusetts.

Image: IMAGO / United Archives

Williams was one of the hosts for the ‘Comic Relief’ program aimed to help raise money for poverty. In addition, Williams would make it a point to visit with the people of Boston that he was raising money for while in the area to tell them stories and sign autographs.

33. Ralph McQuarrie posing with his famous creation, Yoda.

Image: IMAGO / Mary Evans
Film: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back 

Yoda is one of the most notable and beloved creatures in sci-fi history and Ralph McQuarrie is to thank for that. As a concept designer and illustrator, McQuarrie is responsible for many sci-fi creatures. After many concept designs, he finally landed on the famous Yoda that is still loved today.

34. An ambushed supply train that has been stranded in Arabia since WW1.

During WW1, T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia helped the Arabians take down the Turkish military by cutting off supply trains that traveled through Turkey’s Hejaz Railway. These trains were meant to bring food and ammunition supplies to the Turkish military. Many of the overturned trains are still stranded in the desert.

35. Striking photo of John F. Kennedy and wife, Jackie Kennedy.

Image: IMAGO / UIG

Although this image looks picture-perfect, the couple was far from it. There were many issues between this powerhouse couple. The biggest issue between the two was infidelity and the most notable incident was an alleged affair between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. This affair was never proven or disproven.

36. Beautifully retouched photo of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna in 1887.

Image: Hayman Seleg Mendelssohn, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After Duchess Feodorovna’s husband passed away, she devoted her life to helping others. She opened a convent that was complete with a hospital, pharmacy, and orphanage all on campus. In 1918, she was arrested and brutally murdered. She was thrown into a pit and grenades were thrown in as well.

37. Famous painter, Bob Ross, bottle-feeding a baby raccoon.

Image: Imago / blickwinkel

Bob Ross was passionate about more than just art, painting, and landscapes. He also loved caring for wild animals. He once nursed an alligator back to health in his bathtub. He turned the backyard of his home into an animal shelter and rehabilitation facility for squirrels, raccoons, owls, and more.

38. A pair of students attending Cambridge University in 1926.

Image: Detroit Publishing Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Cambridge University is one of the most prestigious schools in America. Although this school is all about its studies, the students there still knew how to have fun. They had a secret club on campus called the Alpine Society and the initiation to get in was not an easy one.

39. Two women delivering ice blocks in New York City in 1918.

Image: National Archives at College Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During WW1, while men were fighting in the war, women were forced to take on the physical jobs that men usually did back home. One of these jobs was driving around New York City to deliver heavy blocks of ice that were used to chill food before refrigerators were popular.

40. 1920’s Halloween skeleton costumes with horses.

People have been dressing up in costumes for Halloween for centuries, but this trend only reached America in the early 1900s. It started as a Celtic tradition to help ward off spirits on the one night of the year that they are able to cross over into the living world.

41. Young Bela Lugosi before moving to America in 1901.

Image: IMAGO / Cinema Publishers Collection

Lugosi worked as a miner in Hungary, but his dream was to become an actor. He moved to America to pursue this dream in the early 1920s. He played a few small roles in various things until landing the major role of Count Dracula in the 1931 American horror film.

42. Man increasing the price of gas on the station’s sign in 1939.

Long before inflation took over, gas prices were insanely cheap in America. Cheap according to today’s standards, that is. American’s could often fill up their entire gas tank for only two dollars total. In addition, gas stations were more of a full service station that included pumping and windshield cleaning.

43. A baby gorilla named Yakini is surprised by a cold stethoscope.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA/Keystone

Yakini is a silverback gorilla who was born at the Melbourne Zoo in Australia in 1999. He was known for being a miracle baby. He was delivered by cesarean section and lived in the intensive care unit for a while afterward. This photo was taken during one of his checkups.

44. Comedy pair Laurel and Hardy in 1956.

Image: IMAGO / Hollywood Photo Archive

The hilarious American comedian duo act was responsible for dozens of shorts and feature comedy films from the 1920s through the 1940s. Sadly, Hardy passed away in 1957 after suffering from cancer, a heart attack, multiple strokes, and a coma. Laurel died a few years later from a heart attack.