Relive the 1980s Through These 14 Timeless Photographs
The 1980s embodied the fun and fervor of the yuppie culture through the craze for electronic dance music and people’s love for light-hearted yet highly entertaining films and television shows. These classic photos from that decade perfectly capture the essence of the era.
You can relive the sights and sounds through these real-life shots that give us a glimpse into what life must have been like during the ’80s.
Hi-Tech: Carrying "Mobile" Telephones
We can slip our phones into our pockets now, but that wasn’t the case four decades ago. In fact, people would’ve called you crazy for suggesting such a thing would ever happen.
This classic shot of a woman carrying a brick-sized telephone with its relatively large base at the airport was rare in the ’80s. She’d have paid a fortune for the luxury of lugging it around and the convenience of using it during transit.
Carrie Fisher's Funny Moment in a Trash Can
Movie enthusiasts remember Carrie Fisher from her portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise that catapulted her to fame in the late ’70s. In this classic photo, the gorgeous actress seems to be having fun seated inside a trash can on the sidewalk of New York.
This picture is one among a series of shots taken by renowned photographer Douglas Kirkland in 1980 during promotion of the film, The Empire Strikes Back.
Springsteen Fans Gather in Philadelphia
The ’80s was a glorious decade for Bruce Springsteen and his fans. He released five excellent albums, including his tremendously successful seventh studio album, Born in the USA. His live concerts were such a rush during the decade that fans tailgated with their cars to gather around and discuss his songs.
They came prepared with slow cookers to stay fed during the long hauls waiting at the parking lot before witnessing “The Boss.”
Steve Jobs Looking Cool on a BMW Bike
A friend of Steve Jobs once described the late Apple chairman as quite a cool guy to hang out with—he wore plaid shirts and jeans, and rode his bike to meet his buddies.
This 1982 photo of the renowned inventor from the cover of National Geographic perfectly encapsulates his personality—a born rebel who set Silicon Valley ablaze with his ingenuity.
Sweet Tooth: '80s Kids Loved the Soda Aisle
Visiting a grocery store during the ’80s was a nightmare for the parents, but the kids were ecstatic about the trip. This picture of the soda aisle in one supermarket proves why children never complained about getting dragged to the store!
With all the cola commercials and brands investing top dollars in marketing campaigns, the young ones had no choice but to consume. Interestingly, the adults often were equally tempted.
A Sight You Wouldn’t See Today
Several things about this picture taken in the 1980s tell us how far we’ve come as a society. Let’s start with the two things you’d never see dads in nowadays: a mullet and a crop top! Nor would you spot an adult with a lit cigarette and sparkler within arm’s distance of a child.
Are we to believe ’80s dads were more laissez-faire? Perhaps we have evolved into a more cautious and weary society since.
Guardian Angels of the New York Subways
New York subways were known to be dark and dangerous during the ’80s, and citizens had a tough time feeling safe while taking the train. To provide peace of mind, a band of good samaritans patrolled stations through the night.
As days went on, the number of volunteers grew, and soon they became known as the Guardian Angels, monitoring the subways. Despite their constant tussle with the police, they never abandoned their cause.
Drew Barrymore: Little Miss Firestarter
This classic photo of Drew Barrymore and Stephen King is reminiscent of how utterly captivating both were during the ’80s within their respective spheres of work. The famous novelist reigned supreme throughout the decade, with several notable works being adapted into Hollywood blockbusters.
Many of his movie adaptations featured Barrymore—the 1984 flick Firestarter had her looking young and fierce on a poster that most film enthusiasts still remember.
An All-Girl Skateboarding Crew Breaking Barriers
Never tell girls what they cannot do—they’ll return doing just that, and probably even better than most males. A case in point is the Hags of the ’80s. The all-girl skateboarding crew full of tough-as-nails punk-rockers was started by Steve Bates, who wasn’t allowed to join any crew because she was a girl.
Soon, the talented group took over LA streets, rolling up to clubs on their boards. Wearing tattered denim vests became their signature style.
One Family’s Fascination With 3D Glasses
3D movies were introduced to the world during the ’50s, but as with anything new, eventually the novelty wore off until. However, it experienced a massive resurgence during the late ’70s and the early ’80s. Watching horror films such as Friday the 13th and Elvira’s Movie Macabre in 3D technology became an exhilarating experience for moviegoers.
So, it’s not surprising that families had the glasses lying around and became the props for family pictures such as this one.
Filming of the Iconic George Lucas Opening Crawl
The Empire Strikes Back can be counted as one of the precious gifts of the ’80s. No one can forget the opening scene, and this behind-the-scenes picture of how it was filmed makes it even more nostalgic and memorable.
George Lucas, the brain behind the Star Wars franchise, once explained how hard it was to film and to even write succinct prose in such a legendary manner.
The Man Behind the Muppets of Sesame Street
How can we mention the ’80s without touching on its greatest gift for kids, Sesame Street? Jim Henson’s brainchild was an education program that taught young ones of that decade more than any school could.
Carroll Spinney played the muppets Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird – among other characters – for nearly five decades before he retired in 2018. Thanks to him, children learned valuable life lessons while on the journey with the adorable muppets.
The '80s K-Mart Easter Bunny Special
To say the ’80s had a lot of weird things going on would be an understatement. It was a time of pure creative madness, and being a kid during that decade was like winning the lottery to crazy town.
Most ’80s children loved every creepy thing that came about, including the odd-looking Easter Bunny handing out something equally weird to them in the picture. Notice the kids look unfazed and oddly eager for the gifts from the basket.
Waiting in Line for The Empire Strikes Back
The ’80s started with a bang—five months into the decade, fans eagerly lined up at a theater to watch the most anticipated Star Wars installment yet, The Empire Strikes Back. By the film’s end, fans were curious about many things.
Yet, their excitement for the sequel was palpable because they had just discovered that it was not the end of Darth Vader, and there was more to the story than they realized.