We live in times were there seems to be photographs of every aspect of life, but that didn’t use to be the case. Pictures used to be a way to convey a lot of information just with one photograph. There is a reason someone came up with the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” So to that end, we wanted to take a minute and look back through some vintage photos that will either put a smile on your face or leave you interested and wanting to find out more about it. I know that was the case for me on some.
Cassius Clay at just 12 yrs old, 1954
A young Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali, poses for a picture at just 12 years old. After having his bike stolen he told the police officer that was taking the report that he was going to “whoop whoever stole it.” The policeman decided to take the young boy under his wing and teach him how to channel that aggression out in the boxing ring.
Models posing wearing wooden swimsuits, 1929
In an attempt to promote products made by the Gray Harbor lumber industry, these models were custom fitted with spruce wood veneer bathing suits that must have taken quite a long time to put together. It’s a good thing that this type of thing never became a hot fashion trend. Can you imagine the splinters?
Al Capone’s prison cell in 1929
During his stay at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia in 1929, Al Capone was able to get some of the guards to work for him and smuggle in certain goods. Capone was able to live in some level of comfort with oriental rugs, fine furniture and even had a cabinet radio which at the time was the equivalent of a big screen TV.
Experimental Russian Tsar Tank 1914
Russia attempted to completely redefine what a tank was back in 1914 when they attempted to make a “trike style” tank that used two massive 27 feet tall wheels rather than the track style. It had a much smaller third wheel only an estimated 5 ft tall. It was thought that these enormous wheels would go over any obstacles, but due to a gross miscalculation of the weight, the machine was under powered and got stuck quite often.
California drought brings the skateboarding craze of the 1970’s
Although skateboarding is said to have started back in the 1950’s a rare drought mixed with massive heat wave that plagued California in the 1970’s causing many swimming pools, drainage ditches and any other concrete type surfaces became more available to the youth of that era. So they busted out what seems like mini skateboards, compared to the ones available today, and proceeded to hit up every spot they could get their hands on.
The first Moulin Rouge in Paris before it burned down, 1914
The infamous Moulin Rouge just one year before it burned to the ground in 1915. What allegedly was a short circuit that started in a storage room quickly spread to the rest of the building, leaving nothing but a pile of rubble in it’s wake.
Model Nena von Schlebrügge, mother to Uma Thurman, poses in 1963
In this photo shot by Norman Parkinson, Nena von Schlebrügge poses with a statue of the famous Sphinx in 1963. The Photo was taken for Great Britain’s high society publication, Queen magazine. She is also the mother of famous Hollywood Actress, Uma Thurman.
The Great Blizzard of 1947 Brings New York City to a crawl
December of 1947 brought an incredible blizzard when a record 25 inches of snow fell in less than 24 hrs. The city that never sleeps was blanketed with snow that started falling at approximately 3:00 a.m. and didn’t stop until the following night. When most people were getting up to go to work there was only a few inches, but by mid-day the snow picked up drastically.
Chester E. Macduffee and his submarine armor, 1910
This robot looking creature is actually a hand-made diving suit by Chester Macduffee back in 1910. It was used to set an extreme depth record of 212ft; it weighed approximately 500 lbs. and utilized two mechanical hands that could be interchanged with different tools like a closing claw and even an electric powered light.
Open air schools in the Netherlands, 1918
To combat the spread of tuberculosis, Netherland officials decided to try something a little different by making what they called open air schools. They would find semi-rural areas away from city centers and pollution and then make a classroom, without the room of course. They felt open air, good ventilation, and the exposure to the sun was good for the children’s health.
Famous Girls in the Window Photo, 1960
Famous photographer Ormond Gigli noticed these beautiful brown stone buildings that were in the process of being torn down on East 58th street in NYC. He said he felt the need to immortalize the buildings and worked quickly to acquire the necessary permits and track down 43 models that would do the shoot. In the end he was able to pull of this award winning photograph.
1934 brings the new streamlined Chrysler Airflow and Union Pacific’s M-10000 train
The Chrysler Airflow was the first vehicle to use streamlining to make the car as slippy as possible for things like fuel efficiency and speed. The M-10000 was the first streamlined passenger train that also used an internal combustion engine for power.
Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer playing 50 games at one time, 1964
Bobby Fischer was considered a prodigy when it came to chess, he had earned the title of Grandmaster as well as World Chess Champion. He put his skill to the test when he went up against 50 different players, all at one time back in 1964. He won 47, had a draw against two people, and surprisingly even lost a game.
Assembly line for the B-24 bomber in Ft. Worth Texas, 1943
What’s known as the United States Air Force Plant 4 is one of many different locations where the assembly of military equipment is completed. This particular plant is located in Ft. Worth Texas and was mainly used back in the 1940’s to manufacture the B-24 bomber planes, but is also still currently being used today, staffing a reported 17,000 people.
Sewer Gang hard at work in London in the 1950’s
In what many felt to be the worst job in London, the Sewer Gang is hard at work keeping the drainage of the sewer systems flowing freely so the city wouldn’t get backed up. They reported worked for a weekly wage that equated out to be right around six dollars.
A giant man-made U.S. Shield was made using 30,000 people at Camp Custer, 1918
As a way to boost patriotism and make Americans feel better about themselves, British photographer Arthur Mole took this iconic photo using 30,000 officers and men at Camp Custer in Michigan. To get the right perspective for the photo, Mole used a 70ft tower that was constructed at the site.
First class gym aboard the Titanic, 1912
Believe it or not, there was a first class gym aboard the Titanic that any passenger with a first class ticket could pay one shilling to gain access. It included some of the latest electric powered machinery such as an electric camel, horse, and cycling and row machines that patrons could use under the watchful eye of the physical educator that acted as a lifeguard for the room.
New York City Swimmobile, late 1960’s
The swimmobile was a brilliant way to help the people that didn’t have money or a way to get to a community pool during the hot summer days in New York. The city would take these mobile swimming pools, park them in a deserving neighborhood, and then come pick them up at the end of the day.
The food truck of 1919
The food truck has recently started to branch out into a whole new segment of fast food. How they did it back in 1919 was to use a Ford Model T and turn into essentially a sandwich vending machine. Customers could walk up and have their choice of fully prepared sandwich, fruits, and a cup of coffee to start the day.
Pre-construction of the capital of Brazil, Brasilia City, 1960
Founded in April of 1960, the city of Brasilia was developed and designed to become the capital of Brazil because it was a far more central location then the previous, Rio de Janeiro. It was designed so that there would be certain sectors for specified activities, such as a sector for hotels, embassy sector and even a banking sector.
Building the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, 1933-1937
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge connects the northern tip of San Francisco to Marin County. The bridge spans the one mile-wide Golden Gate strait that connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Construction started January 5th, 1933 and lasted just over four years completing the project on April 19th, 1937
California Street in San Francisco, 1964
This gorgeous photo was taken by famous American photographer, Todd Walker back in 1964. In the photo is California Street, which is one of the longest streets running through San Francisco and is actually the last leg in the Lincoln highway, which was the first road across America
Hair Permer of the 1930’s
These machines look like they would be straight out of a sci-fi movie where the machine is taking over the human brain. But it’s actually one of many different hair perm machines that was available at the time. Anything from electric heat to steam kettles were used on these contraptions to allow women of that era to make themselves beautiful.
19 yr. old German pilot lands plane right next to the Kremlin, 1987
Mathias Rust was your average 19 year old teenager with a particular interest in politics. As an amateur pilot, he decided to fly his single engine plane over 500 miles from his home country of Germany to the gates of the Kremlin in Moscow. He flew right past the Soviet military defense systems, and was even tailed by Soviet fighters that had requested permission to shoot down the small plane but they never got the go ahead. Rust would be jailed for a year for his bold move.
The Texas Track Club of Abilene pose for Sports Illustrated shoot, 1964
This was no ordinary track club, this group comprised of some of the best high school and collegiate athletes in the area that had trained with hopes of competing in the Olympics some day. Jeanne Ellison (back), Janis Rinehart (front) and Paula Walter (middle) were chosen to grace the cover of the ionic Sports Illustrated, becoming the first female track athletes to be on the cover.
Custom vehicle built for Tsar Nikolai II of Russia , 1917
What some believe to be the first off road vehicle made was the caterpillar tracked, front ski vehicle made by engineer Adolphe Kégresse, for the Tsar of Russia Nikolia II in 1917. The Tsar was known to be a major auto enthusiast and had a full collection of cars from Rolls Royce, Mercedes and Packard that Adolphe would end up putting the flexible rubber tracks on most of his collection. It appears to be a Rolls Royce in the picture above.
Apollo 14 Astronaut, Edgar Mitchell training at Kennedy Space Center, 1970
This photo is of Edgar Mitchell during the lunar surface simulation for the Apollo 14 mission. The mission designed to help them understand what it would require to deploy the components of the Apollo lunar surface experiments package.
The engine room of a late 1930’s diesel electric submarine
Submarines are one of the greatest feats of engineering, perhaps second only to space travel. In 1928, a new type of submarine using a combination of diesel and electric power as a propulsion device emerged. There would usually be two massive diesel engines that would work essentially as generators to charge the electric drive system. Working in these rooms were hot, loud and dirty, but so was most of the submarine life.
Sculptors work on the Statue of Liberty in Paris, France, 1877-1885
Work commences on Lady Liberty’s left arm that would later hold the Declaration of Independence in Paris France. She was the design of sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi and was made as a gift to celebrate the Americans Independence. It would take almost 7 years to build before it was dissembled so it could be shipped to New York In 1885
Terrible Flooding in Paris , 1910
Following months of rainfall in late January, 1910, the Seine River rose almost 25ft above what it normally would be at and caused massive flooding throughout Paris. Due to the floods, residents were forced to get creative in finding ways to get to and from their homes.