Unique Photographs Capture Unforgettable Moments In History
The internet is a marvel. Thanks to this miraculous tool, we can see places and periods we would never have been able to see ourselves. It can also give us ideas for our next holiday destination—all thanks to its extraordinary capacity for sharing and storing pictures.
Today, we present the unseen side of some of the world’s most famous destinations taken by some of the most daring photographers of history.
The Apollo Mission’s Biggest Cheerleaders
1969 was the year Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. This was part of the Apollo 11 mission, which Armstrong commandeered next to Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins.
The mission lasted a little over a week, and the world watched it from their television sets. Few people were prouder than Armostrong’s family – this picture is proof. Here is a rare point of view of his wife and sons during the launch of the historic mission.
A Fearless Water Skier
It seems like something out of a movie, but this picture was taken on March 20th, 1980, in Yale Lake during one of the worst volcanic eruptions in the modern history of the US. A 4.2 earthquake shook the area, then a second shock—this time of 5.1 on the Richter scale.
A few weeks later, it caused Mt. Helens to erupt. This water skier probably has a great story to tell—there’s nothing bolder than water skiing while a volcano belches sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.
The Great Sphinx Of Giza’s Back
Egypt is home to the Giza pyramids, and on the same plateau, the marvelous Sphinx stands proud and tall. We’ve all seen the pictures. It has been referenced over and over in media throughout the years: the limestone statue of a mythical beast with a lion’s body and a human head.
This is a point of view we’ve never seen before! And chances are that, unless you’ve personally been there, you haven’t either. Who would’ve known that the Sphinx’s view is panoramic of the city, not the desert dunes?
Mount Rushmore’s Original Plans
Mount Rushmore is an emblematic American monument on the Black Hills of South Dakota. It features the faces of four presidents, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
This is a picture of what the monument was supposed to look like – according to the original artist, Gutzon Borglum. The presidents were supposed to have whole bodies. But because of delays, lack of funding, and the incoming war, they had to stop the construction in 1941 and settle with only portraits.
A Different Picture Of The Iconic Afghan Girl
Photographer Steven McCurry took a series of portraits during the ’80s that are mesmerizing, but “Afghan Girl” became one of the world’s most recognizable pictures. It was featured in 1985 on the front of National Geographic magazine and now has gone down in history.
Sharbat Gula was only a child when she had to leave her home and go to Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan war. She was in a refugee camp when McCurry took these pictures. Her piercing green eyes and beauty have become a symbol for refugees worldwide.
The Price Is Backwards
The Price is Right is the longest-running game show in history. It first aired in 1956 and has been loved by audiences ever since. The classic game has been adapted for different countries such as the United Kingdom, Mexico, India, and Australia.
The centerpiece of the game show is the massive wheel the contestants spin to earn their money prizes. In this picture, we get a peek at what this iconic wheel looks like behind the scenes, and it’s definitely not as luxurious as the front.
Niagara (Without Water) Falls
Although Niagara Falls has never been completely empty, in 1969, it was nearly so for several months. US Army Engineers built a temporary dam to study rock formations and to perform scientific studies.
They hadn’t counted on the hoards of tourists wishing to see the iconic falls almost completely dry. People were able to walk on what usually is a roaring waterfall. When the dam was opened, everything returned to normal. The event served as a reminder of how vital the falls are for the region.
Backstage At The Moulin Rouge
Probably the world’s most famous cabaret, “Moulin Rouge” is an iconic spot in Paris. Open since 1889, it has been frequented by artists, celebrities, and thousands of spectators wishing to see one of the most provocative shows on earth.
This picture is very different from what we’re used to—far from the glamor of Toulouse Lautrec’s paintings and Baz Luhrmann’s movie. Here the showgirls are getting ready in a very humble manner. They seem to have fun while doing their makeup and dressing up for the show.
Keeping David Safe From Bombs
Believe it or not, behind this brick case is one of the world’s most famous sculptures. Michelangelo’s David was covered by a layer of bricks in 1943 to protect it from the war’s destructive bombs. It was encased for two years until it was safe enough.
When unveiled from its casing, Deane Keller, the preservationist in charge of the project, said, “The bright spot yesterday was seeing Michelangelo’s David at length divested of its air-raid protection. It was dusty and dirty, but it was a great thrill.”
Manhattan Before The Bridge
This uncommon picture shows a fantastic view of the construction of the Manhattan Bridge from the Robert Gair Building. Although the construction started in June 1908, it wasn’t open for traffic until late December 1909.
This magnificent engineering feat, designed by Leon Solomon Moisseiff, caused quite a controversy when it was named. Because it was the last of three suspension bridges to connect the East River, there was an argument that it should have a historical or geographically significant name and that all of the bridges were Manhattan bridges.
A Mount-astic Shadow
Mount Fuji is a symbol of Japan’s beautiful natural landscapes. The mountain has a remarkable triangular shape that makes it very recognizable. Usually, it’s very difficult to photograph the mountain because of low-hanging clouds, but this photographer was in luck.
This sunrise picture shows the mountain’s majestic shadow over the valley. It almost looks like somebody painted the figure over the landscape because of how perfectly clear it is. If you look closely, the tip even seems to have a little snow – common for Mount Fuji.
This picture might seem familiar to those who know basketball, but even if you don’t, you’ll recognize you’ve seen it before. This picture was taken in 1969, and a few months later, it was used as inspiration to create the NBA logo that is still used.
The player here is Jerry West, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers for fourteen years, and later became a coach for the same team. It has never been confirmed nor denied that this picture inspired the iconic logo.
The Gate Of Heaven Is Dry
Any person on social media has seen pictures of someone doing yoga or meditating in the Gate of Heaven in Bali. This spot is especially famous among influencers and internet personalities, characterized by a crystal clear lake under the two stone structures. However, the problem is it’s nothing like the pictures in real life!
In reality, this temple has been subject to the magic of photography tricks and even photoshop by local photographers that offer the service to tourists. We can’t believe how bamboozled we were by the #GatesOfHeaven hashtag.
The Photographer Behind Lunch
Many people have seen the picture “Lunch atop a Skyscraper.” It has been featured in postcards, referenced in films, and used as publicity for various campaigns. It depicts eleven construction workers eating lunch while sitting on a beam during the construction of the Rockefeller Center.
The beam was over 840 feet tall, and while these men casually took their lunch break, photographer, Charles Ebbets, snapped a picture that would become an icon of New York’s history. This is a lesser-known picture of Mr. Ebbets in action.
Lighting The Underwater Scenes For Titanic
The magic of cinema often relies on practical tricks that look funny in real life. In this case, the crew of James Cameron’s Titanic had to experiment with many techniques to acquire the look they needed for the film.
The 1997 movie won 11 of its 14 Oscar nominations and was a massive blockbuster upon its release. Today, it’s still remembered as one of the movies that marked cinema history and for the online debate of whether Jack, played by a young Leonard Dicaprio, could’ve survived.
Marlon Brando’s Prosthetic Jowls
To achieve Vito Corleone’s characteristic “bulldog” look, makeup artist Dick Smith designed a custom-made mouthpiece. A professional dentist made the piece to ensure its comfort and durability and that it wouldn’t hurt Marlon in the long run.
Since he had to spend long hours on set for The Godfather, it was important to manufacture the mouthpiece with utmost care. This unbelievable facial change makes it look like the actor is much older than he was in real life. It gives him the right look to portray the emblematic mobster.
Before Mount Rushmore
Even before Mount Rushmore was carved, the Black Hills was a sacred place for the Lakota Sioux people. Although they were cut to feature four U.S. presidents in 1941, they used to be called Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe, which translates to The Six Grandfathers.
It symbolized the six sacred directions: east, west, north, south, below, and above. This is one of the few pictures of the mountain before it was carved. It’s easy to see the appeal for the Lakota tribe. The natural granite formations had an indescribable picturesque charm.
The Golden Gate Bridge Construction
This picture is dated from 1935 when the first cables were installed on San Francisco’s emblematic suspension bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge opened for traffic on May 27th, 1937, and the construction lasted over four years.
This bridge connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. It’s 1.6 km long and 746 feet tall—an impressive structure. It is considered one of the Wonders of the Modern World for its magnificent engineering, design, and construction. It almost instantly became the symbol of the city of San Francisco.
Jerry Seinfeld On Set
The end of the television sitcom Seinfeld was a historic moment for pop culture. The show lasted nine seasons from 1989 to 1998 and was a cultural phenomenon. The show got started using a very modest set.
Because of the show’s success, it ended up being filmed on Stage 9, the biggest in CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles—despite the show being set in New York. This picture evokes a bittersweet feeling as Jerry waits for his cue to enter the scene to deliver his final few lines.
'Sesame Street' Puppeteers
On November 10th, 1969, the pilot for Sesame Street aired on television. The show has been running ever since. It has set many records, such as being the longest-running children’s television show, most Emmy awards for a children’s show, most international adaptations, most muppets created, and most celebrity guest appearances.
Over 86 million Americans have watched it – a fairly impressive achievement. The characters, despite being puppets, all have incredibly unique personalities. Many would be shocked to see this picture of how they are handled behind the scenes.
Grant Wood’s American Gothic Models
The artist Grant Wood had a specific vision for his painting. In the background would be a house that he once saw in Eldon, Ohio, and in the foreground, a father-daughter duo. When he finished, he didn’t expect it to become one of the most regarded masterpieces of the 20th century.
Here is a picture of his original models: the artist’s sister, Nan Wood, and his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby, in the Gallery at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. The picture is currently in the Art Institute of Chicago.
An Aerial View Of The Summer Of Love
This is no flower field—an unseen view of the crowds at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969. As one of the most crucial moments in music history, it is one of Rolling Stone’s “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.”
Among the 32 bands that performed in the three-day festival were the Grateful Dead, Santana, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and, of course, Jimmy Hendrix. Over 400,000 people attended, and many movies and documentaries have been made about it throughout the years.
The Statue Of Liberty’s Head
If you were walking around Paris in 1878, you would’ve probably encountered the Paris World Fair, where this massive copper head was showcased. Here it is before it was gifted to the United States by the government of France in 1889.
The sculpture was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and its framework was made by Auguste Eiffel. Many people don’t know that there are two Statues of Liberty: the best-known one in New York and its twin in Paris.
Dinner Before Disaster—Inside The Hindenburg
The LZ 129 Hindenburg, a German commercial airship, operated from March 1936 until its tragic demise in May 1937 due to a fire accident. Here’s a rare sneak peek inside. The upper deck served as a residential passenger area equipped with cabins, a dining room, and a lounge for relaxation.
The lower deck provided facilities for the crew, such as washrooms, a mess hall, and a designated smoking room—all before it went up in smoke. Despite its short life, the Hindenburg has remained a significant symbol in aviation history.
The Tank Man Up Against An Army
Although the famous image depicts a nameless man halting the progression of four tanks in Beijing, the uncropped picture reveals a far more daunting situation. A continuous line of tanks filled the streets, amplifying the bravery and defiance of the man who stood alone in their tracks.
This powerful photograph, captured during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, has become an enduring symbol of peaceful resistance and courage in the face of oppression. But who knew that the force he was up against was this well-armed and equipped?
The East Berlin Jam
With the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, travel between East and West Berlin was strictly prohibited. However, this changed until November 11, 1989, when the Wall was finally dismantled. Hundreds of thousands of East Germans took to the roads, eager to explore the other side after years of separation.
This influx of traffic led to gridlock near the iconic Brandenburg Gate as thousands of citizens crossed the once-impenetrable border, embracing the end of the Cold War, newfound consumer freedoms, and reunifying with loved ones.
A Bird’s Eye View Of The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris commemorates those who fought for France during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. At 164 feet, it was the tallest triumphal arch in the world until the Monumento a la Revolución was completed in Mexico City in 1938.
The Arc de Triomphe remains a popular tourist attraction. While it looks incredible from the ground, its true beauty can only be appreciated by birds, hot-air balloons, its architect, and, thankfully, for the sake of those afraid of heights, aerial photography.
A Lion Is A Lion
This one would have taken some guts to photograph—never mind film up close. Many lions were used to film Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s iconic logo throughout the years, but only one was named Leo. The lion pictured here was known as Jackie, not Leo.
This may surprise those who grew up seeing the familiar “Leo the Lion” roaring at the start of every movie. Nevertheless, Jackie, and his lion peers, contributed to the powerful imagery that has become synonymous with MGM and the world of cinema as we know it.
One Of Ireland’s First Roller Coasters
If you’re afraid of riding on roller coasters, you’re not alone. The speed and gravity can be too much for some people. But imagine riding a coaster where you’re taken off the track—even just for a death-defying moment—only to slam down on the other side.
If this man’s face is anything to go by, it’s enough to make all of your life flash before your eyes. It seems that regulations were much laxer in 1912 about what could be built for the public’s amusement—or in this case, their terror.