Like it or not, taking a photograph nowadays can be as easy as whipping out your phone and gleefully snapping away. But pictures weren’t always such a throwaway commodity. No, in the 19th and 20th centuries taking a crisp shot could demand hours of work and a litany of hugely expensive equipment. The photographs of yore were much toiled over pieces of art, then. And the following images, in particular, are true masterpieces; they capture crucial moments in the history of human civilization – from NASA’s lunar missions to the construction of the Statue of Liberty.
40. The first photo of a human being
The first known image of a person was snapped way back in 1838. Inventor Louis Daguerre managed to capture two people, in fact, towards the bottom left of this Parisian street scene. And though the pair appear to be alone, the pavements at the time would have likely been teeming with other citizens. The camera’s long exposure time ensured that only those remaining perfectly still would show up in the photo, you see.
39. A family photo on the moon
Though some sci-fi movies may have you believe otherwise, human beings are still a long old way from establishing a colony on the moon. For now, then, this old family photo is the closest thing we’ve got. The wholesome snap touched down on the moon’s surface during the Apollo 16 mission of 1972, you see, as a gift from astronaut Charles Duke. He dropped the image and subsequently took a picture of it for posterity. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll put up a family snap in your own lunar habitat decades from now. And if you do, think of Duke.
38. The first news photograph
The news was a strictly written affair – with no photographs in sight – right up until 1847. But that year the Daguerrotype process was conceived by photography pioneer Louis Daguerre, and it changed everything. Though a primitive approach compared to our modern photographic methods, the technique gifted the masses this momentous image. Yes, this picture of French authorities arresting a man is believed to be the first newsworthy snap ever captured. Alas, the identity of the photojournalist behind the shutter has been lost to the mists of time.
37. The first “Miss America”
Margaret Gorman was just 16 years old when she was awarded the title of “Miss Washington, D.C.” The precocious young woman would then go on to dazzle the crowds of Atlantic City’s boardwalk when she won the “Inter-City Beauty Contest” of 1921. And the starlet, crucially, was granted yet more accolades. Yes, Gorman went on to become the first-ever “Miss America” in 1922 – an honor she swiftly lost to “Miss Columbus,” Mary Katherine Campbell.
36. The oldest surviving photo of a U.S. President
William Henry Harrison’s 1841 portrait, like so many of history’s firsts, is long gone. For the oldest surviving photo of a U.S. President, then, we have to turn to John Quincy Adams. Yes, the sixth POTUS, who served from 1825 to 1829, sat for two images in 1843. And though it’s not known which of the two snaps was captured first, we do know that Adams raucously described one of them as “hideous” in his diary.
35. The first color photograph
It’s difficult to overstate the impact of Thomas Sutton’s work on modern photography. Not only did the Englishman develop the first wide-angle lens, but he also produced the first color photograph. Sutton worked with James Clerk Maxwell, a theoretical physicist, to shoot a tartan ribbon through blue, green and red filters. The talented duo then combined their three negatives into a single image, creating the foundation of color photography. Time-consuming? Sure. Ingenious? Definitely!
34. The first photo of a nuclear explosion
Human beings detonated an atomic bomb for the first time ever in New Mexico, July 1945. Yet, remarkably, no video footage of the test still exists. What has lasted, though, is a simple still, snapped by physicist and amateur photographer Jack Aeby. The Manhattan Project employee was apparently down to the last few frames on his roll of film when the test started, but he managed to get a well-exposed snap nonetheless. As he later recalled, “It was there, so I shot it.” The resulting image was then used by scientists to determine the true yield of the bomb.
33. American soldiers returning home from WWII
Of course, not everyone was lucky enough to come home from WWII. More than 400,000 U.S. soldiers died during the conflict, in fact. That figure makes this picture of the dreadnought Queen Elizabeth all the more poignant, then, as the men who did make it out alive celebrate – quite rightly – their safe journey home.
32. The first digital photo
While digital cameras wouldn’t debut until the mid-1970s, the first digital photo was actually produced almost 20 years prior. Yes, Russell Kirsch scanned an image of his infant son into his computer way back in 1957, creating a 176×176 pixel picture. And if you’re thinking that sounds like a painfully low resolution, that’s because it is. But it was all the primitive computer could manage.
31. Early, extravagant tattoos
Tattoos aren’t only the domain of the young. The parents – or even great-grandparents – of today’s youth may well have been advocates of ink themselves. In this photo from 1928, for example, a young woman receives a particularly daring tattoo of a naked woman riding on top of a bird. After all, body art was becoming popular as far back as the late 19th century. Your parents or grandparents may even have some secret skin-top scrawlings that you aren’t aware of, then.
30. The oldest surviving photo of lightning
Thomas Martin Easterly may be responsible for taking the first ever photograph of lightning in 1847. However, his original work has unfortunately been lost in the decades since. For the oldest surviving image of lightning, then, we must look to William Jennings. The photographer set out to prove that the phenomenon was not the simple zig-zag shape that artists pictured. And while it took him over a year, he eventually captured lightning’s volatile branching form in 1882.
29. The first photo taken on Mars
NASA’s Viking 1 touched down on the surface of Mars on July 20, 1976. And just moments later the spacecraft captured the first ever photo taken on the red planet. Ironically, though, its camera could only shoot in black and white. But the resulting image nevertheless represents an incredible moment in human history.
28. The first obscene gesture on camera
The precise reason why Charles Radbourn decided to “flip the bird” in this group shot has been lost to history. Perhaps he didn’t get on well with the photographer of this image. Or maybe he was dealing with a particularly severe bout of finger cramp. Whatever the reason, his pose – which was pulled in 1886 on the opening day of the Major League Baseball season – went down as the first known obscene gesture on camera.
27. The first underwater portrait
The act of taking photographs on dry land lasted less than a century, it seems, before growing stale in France. By the end of the 1800s, you see, entrepreneurial shutterbugs had already begun taking their practice to strange new places. Louis Boutan, for example, combined his photography and diving talents to shoot this underwater portrait of oceanographer Emil Racovitza. Even more astonishingly, it’s likely Boutan used a homemade sub-surface flash photography rig to illuminate his subject.
26. The first powered flight
The famed Wright brothers weren’t just aviation pioneers: they were also keen photographers. By the time they made their first ever powered flight in 1903, they were ready to shoot it on film. Using one of the best cameras available at the time, they captured a number of truly iconic images. And what was captured on those frames? Well, every detail of their plane’s first sustained flight across the sand dunes of North Carolina.
25. The Steam Man
Zadoc Dederick’s Steam Man device fascinated countless New Yorkers when it arrived on Broadway in 1868. The 22-year-old inventor’s machine was – and still is – truly ingenious, after all. The fantastical contraption of a man pulling a four-person carriage was powered solely by steam. The New York Express even went as far as deeming it the “eighth wonder of the world.”
24. The President’s dog
This presidential pooch belonged to none other than Abraham Lincoln. But when the POTUS took office, he feared the trip from Illinois would prove too stressful for poor Fido. Instead, Honest Abe left the dog in the care of his friends – along with the pampered pup’s favorite sofa and a list of strict rules on how he should be treated.
23. The oldest surviving aerial photo
The first ever photo taken from the air has been lost to history. Fortunately, two years after Gaspard-Félix Tournachon snapped his pioneering aerial image of Paris, James Black took his camera high above Boston. And though Black’s birds-eye-view capture wasn’t the first of its kind, its existence is still no mean feat. It was shot from a hot air balloon in 1860, after all, a full four decades before the Wright brothers even invented the modern airplane. Quite rightly, the capture now resides in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
22. The first flower to bloom in space
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station began the tricky task of growing flowers in space back in November 2015. The experiment was initiated to help scientists study the growth of plants in microgravity, and for astronauts to become accustomed to the process of keeping the flowers alive. And though the zinnias had a rocky start, they showed the first signs of flowering in January 2016. It just goes to show that iconic images are still being snapped – even in the 21st century.
21. The first photo taken on Venus
Venus may be blisteringly hot, but in the 1970s and 1980s the Soviet Union managed to land satellites on its surface. And while none of them lasted long in the nearly 900-degrees Fahrenheit heat, they did transmit some astonishing images. Yes, when the first of the probes, Venera 9, touched down on October 22, 1975, it withstood the planet’s intense atmospheric pressure for long enough to capture this truly remarkable photograph.
20. The first selfie
Believe it or not, the concept of a selfie wasn’t born with camera phones; the photographic self-portrait has actually been around almost as long as photography itself. That’s because savvy snappers would often sit as their own model while experimenting with their equipment. Take Robert Cornelius, who produced what’s thought to be the first ever selfie in 1839. The budding photographer sat in front of an uncapped lens for a full minute to achieve the shot.
19. The Statue of Liberty under construction in Paris
As many Americans will know, the Statue of Liberty is now installed on Liberty Island in New York. The famed structure was actually sculpted in Paris, however, as this 1884 image of a Parisian workshop confirms. A present to the U.S. from the people of France, the object made its way across the Atlantic in 1885. And though it arrived in America in several sections, it was ultimately erected into a single, vast monument.
18. The first photo of a tornado
For most of the 19th century, pictorial evidence of tornados came in the form of drawings. That all changed in 1884, however. Fruit farmer and enthusiast photographer A. A. Adams, you see, witnessed a slow-moving cyclone eke through Kansas’ Anderson County. And its sluggish pace afforded him enough time to set up his box camera only 14 miles away – and capture the first ever photo of the freak weather phenomenon.
17. Sculpting face masks for disfigured soldiers
Say what you will about plastic surgery, but it’s certainly come on leaps and bounds since the early 20th century. The technique was so stunted in its abilities during WWI, in fact, that sculptors would create masks for soldiers who’d been disfigured during combat. And that’s exactly what American artist Anna Coleman Ladd is doing here, toiling to help a soldier cover up the missing bottom half of his face.
16. The tallest man in the world
Robert Pershing Wadlow reached a towering eight feet and 11 inches before his untimely death in 1940, aged just 22. That staggering fact makes him the tallest person ever recorded. And photographed here, you can clearly see why. Even into his 20s, in fact, Wadlow’s growth had shown no signs of slowing down. It’s a shame, then, that we can only imagine how fantastically tall the man might have grown had he lived to the age of 30.
15. German worker refusing to salute in 1936
This photo was taken when the Nazis were well entrenched as the fascist rulers of Germany, just three years before the start of WWII. It depicts, of course, a crowd of Germans giving the Nazi salute. But there’s one individual in the frame not following suit: a man thought to be August Landmesser. The shipyard worker was eventually imprisoned for his illegal relationship with a Jewish woman and later died while serving in a penal battalion.
14. The first photographic hoax
Louis Daguerre may be remembered as the founding father of photography, but another pioneer of the technology claimed to have invented it first. Unfortunately, Hippolyte Bayard was pipped to the post after a friend of Daguerre persuaded him to delay unveiling his printing process. To protest this perceived slight, Bayard created the first photographic hoax in 1840. The resulting picture seemingly shows the inventor having drowned himself. In reality, he was alive and well.
13. Beer in the fuel tank of a fighter plane
No, beer wasn’t used to actually fuel planes in WWII. Instead, the plane captured here was used to deliver alcohol to troops on the front lines. This wasn’t exactly an officially sanctioned use of resources, however. The British government soon reprimanded the breweries involved for illegally exporting their beer, cruelly putting an end to the delivery of “joy juice” to the front line.
12. The future Queen Elizabeth II during WWII
At just 18 years of age, the future Queen Elizabeth II managed to convince her father, King George VI, to let her help out with the war effort. Even as a teenager, it seems, the young royal knew how to rule. And as a result of her powerful persuasive skills, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she worked as a driver and mechanic.
11. The first photo of Earth taken from space
The first image of Earth ever taken from space was snapped on a 35mm camera on October 24, 1946 – but there was nobody behind the shutter. Instead, the device was programmed to take photos every one and a half seconds. That’s because it was aboard a German-made V2 rocket, some 65 miles above the surface of our planet. The film was then dropped to the ground in a steel canister, ready to be developed.
10. Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield
This iconic photo was captured at a party in 1957 for actress Sophia Loren. It wasn’t long, however, before sex symbol Jayne Mansfield had stolen the limelight. Loren later explained her famous side-eye to magazine Entertainment Weekly in 2014. “Look at the picture,” Loren said. “Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate.”
9. The original Uncle Sam
Those iconic “I Want YOU” adverts for the U.S. army weren’t thought up out of the blue. No, the artist behind the famed print, James Montgomery Flagg, didn’t just conjure Uncle Sam’s steely point from his own imagination. The man who modeled for the famous pose was actually Flagg’s neighbor, Walter Botts, who is photographed here in 1970.
8. The Beatles playing for 18 people
Back before they made it big, The Beatles were just like any other band – playing shows in nowhere towns to empty rooms. And that appears to have been the case with this concert in Aldershot, England, a tiny military town miles from anywhere. The December 1961 show was attended by just 18 lucky individuals, you see, after the band’s promoter failed to advertise it properly. Oops!
7. A Native American man looking down at the transcontinental railroad
There’s no denying that the transcontinental railroad was the final nail in the coffin for the Native American way of life. Constructed in the 1860s, it pierced straight through the Great Plains, driving away wild animals such as bison – on which Native American tribes relied heavily for food and clothing. Indeed, this photo speaks a thousand words.
6. The first mobile radio telephone
Five decades after Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call, cars were beginning to become commonplace. Ford had manufactured more than 15 million Model T vehicles by 1927, in fact. The two technologies collided, then, in 1924 – when the first ever in-car telephone was put to use, as pictured here.
5. The first photo of the Earth from the Moon
Three years before man set foot on the Moon, NASA’s Lunar Orbiter I gave a glimpse at the view that awaited those audacious astronauts. Yes, on its 16th orbit, the spacecraft captured an image of our planet from the perspective of the lunar body. It then transmitted the photograph back to NASA’s tracking station in Spain, preserving for humanity a pivotal moment in history.
4. The first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel
63-year-old schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor plummeted over Niagara Falls in a barrel in 1901. The woman had embarked on the near-suicidal mission in a desperate attempt to make money. And while she remarkably survived, the endeavor didn’t prove to be the get-rich-quick scheme that she’d hoped for. Taylor subsequently admitted that she’d rather “walk up to the mouth of a cannon” than do it again.
3. The first photo ever taken
While it takes all of eight milliseconds to snap a picture these days – on a camera you no doubt carry in your pocket – it once took around eight hours to do so. That was indeed true of the first ever photograph, captured by French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Taken in either 1826 or 1827 – the exact date is unknown – the grainy image portrays the view from his window.
2. Rescued slaves aboard HMS Daphne
The British Royal Navy had freed around 150,000 African slaves by the late 1860s. The Slavery Abolition Act had been introduced in 1833, you see, banning the trade in large swathes of the British Empire. Here, dozens of rescued East African slaves are pictured aboard HMS Daphne in 1868, having been liberated from Arab slave traders.
1. A white woman with a Native American tattoo
This curious photograph, taken in 1863, portrays Olive Oatman, who 12 years earlier had been kidnapped by Native Americans and then sold to the Mohave tribe. The tattoo on her chin signified that she was a member of the Mohaves, suggesting that they treated her not as a slave, but as an equal. After half a decade in captivity, she eventually escaped.
It’s safe to say that photographs have captured some awe-inspiring moments in human history. But pictures can serve other purposes, too. Let’s not forget, of course, the gift of pure, unadulterated nostalgia that many snaps can provide. Take these shots of the swingin’ sixties, for example. The glorious colors and fashions of the iconic era are bound to leave you longing for a trip back in time.
40. The Beatles
No band is more iconic of the 1960s – or, indeed, of the 20th century – than the Beatles. After all, the pioneering quartet from Liverpool, U.K., forced many people to start thinking of pop music as an actual form of art. This particular photo was taken in May 1967 – after the group had finished their groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
39. Beehive haircuts
Long before the mohawk of the 1970s, the mullet of the 1980s and the pompadour hipster trim of the present, there was the beehive. A testament to a classier and more sophisticated era, the ’do was created in 1960 by Margaret Vinci Heldt, an award-winning hairstylist from Illinois. And as well as resembling a beehive, the style is said to look like the nose of a Boeing B-52 bomber – and so is also known as a B-52.
38. The Twist
Chubby Checker hit number one in 1960 with his rock ’n’ roll cover “The Twist” – a song which had spawned a dance phenomenon that would soon take over the world. Compared to the hip-grinding twerk of the 21st century, though, the twist is a somewhat tame dance. Nonetheless, some baby boomers may recall how conservative commentators criticized the movement at the time.
Hipsters today tend not to be defined by a belief system; the trend is more about their own idiosyncratic sense of style. Hippies, however, were another matter altogether. In fact, the hippie movement was the epitome of 1960s counterculture. It was, after all, a figurative middle finger to the conservative conformism of the preceding decade. Photographed in London in 1967, the hippies in the above photo were no doubt a shocking sight to bystanders.
36. The Rolling Stones
Back in the 1960s, if you weren’t into the Beatles, you were probably into their fiercest rock ’n’ roll rivals, the Rolling Stones. Famed for their spirited ballads and hedonistic tendencies, the Stones are actually still touring the world in their old age. In fact, all evidence suggests that Keith Richards is practically indestructible. Rock on, lads!
35. Clint Eastwood
As much as Clint Eastwood made cultural impacts in the 1970s and ’80s, the star was actually known in the ’60s for his breakthrough roles in Spaghetti Westerns. Indeed, after playing a supporting role in Rawhide, Eastwood worked with Italian director Sergio Leone to make a series of gritty, groundbreaking Westerns. The most famous of these, pictured above, is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
34. Bob Dylan
Born in 1941 as Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan has evidently been on a long creative journey. The folk star released the first of many albums in 1962, in fact, and in 1965 Dylan began experimenting with electric guitar sounds. Then, over a 15-month period, the singer-songwriter recorded three groundbreaking rock ’n’ roll albums to add to his already envy-inducing discography. And after a lifetime of songwriting, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016.
33. James Brown and Muhammad Ali
Born Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali earned his first heavyweight championship title in 1964. The boxer also became known as “The Greatest” during this decade. At the time, too, James Brown was a singer-songwriter and an early architect of funk. And his nickname? Well, Brown was the “Godfather of Soul,” of course. So, taken in August 1966 in Chicago, Illinois, this photograph depicts two icons of African-American culture sharing a ride in a street parade.
32. Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot featured in 47 films over the course of her acting career. Described in 1959 as a “locomotive of women’s history” in an existentialist essay by philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, the star was clearly one of the most powerful and alluring women in 1960s cinema. Bardot stepped away from the limelight in 1973, however, and is now known more as an animal rights activist.
31. Floral trouser suits
The pantsuit was apparently invented in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the style really took off as a women’s fashion item. The design, initially endorsed by fashion giants such as Luba Marks and Foale and Tuffin, actually became de rigueur after Yves Saint-Laurent created a leisure pantsuit called Le Smoking in 1966. In the above 1967 photo, then, the fetching floral pantsuit, which features a matching headband, could not be more representative of ’60s fashion.
30. Hair salons
In the 1960s, much like today, hair salons sometimes became hangouts where women could play around with new and changing styles, such as the bouffant and the B-52. Generally, however, hairdos became simpler and easier to manage as the decade progressed. That’s because the sexual revolution in some ways liberated women from the male-prescribed beauty norms of the preceding decade.
From 1964 onwards, the Beatles found themselves deluged by screaming fans whenever and wherever they performed. Sometimes the screaming would even follow the musicians on the road and in public too. In fact, the phenomenon became so intense that the band ceased touring altogether in 1966. So Beatlemania undoubtedly represented teenage hysteria on a scale never seen before.
28. Jimi Hendrix
Guitarist Jimi Hendrix was once described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” And this is in spite of the fact that Hendrix’s career lasted just four years before his untimely death in 1970. By that time, however, he had already left his mark on 20th-century music. Use of feedback, overdriven amps and tone-effects such as wah-wah and fuzz are all facets pioneered by Hendrix, after all.
27. Sophia Loren
Born Sofia Villani Scicolone, Italian actress Sophia Loren won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1962. Known for her trademark sultry voice and green feline-like eyes, Loren also acted alongside Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and Paul Newman during the ’60s. In fact, the star performed in both Hollywood and Italy and is still lauded as one of the greats.
26. Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin was an American singer-songwriter from small-town Texas. Yet she rose to fame in the late 1960s while heading Big Brother and the Holding Company, a San Francisco psychedelic rock band. The star’s subsequent solo career was also shining and charismatic – but sadly short-lived. Best known for covers such as “Summer Time” and “Piece of My Heart,” Joplin only released three albums before dying of a heroin overdose in 1970.
25. The French Chef
Writer and TV celebrity chef Julia Child is credited by some as having popularized French cuisine in the United States. It’s even said that her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, effectively brought French food to the American masses. Child later also fronted a TV series called The French Chef, which arguably helped to make beef bourguignon a staple of American family dinners in the 1960s.
24. Family dinner
Family dinners are an opportunity for relatives to get together, break bread and talk about their days. It has always been a popular ritual of domestic life, of course, and for many it’s never gone out of style. But children of the 1960s might remember how it was in the days before smartphones, when mom and dad dressed up, take-away food was unavailable and exotic fare was practically unheard of.
23. Flamboyant desserts
It’s not that desserts have gotten less interesting these days; it’s that after-dinner treats are often less flamboyant. You see, desserts of the 1960s included such weird creations as stained glass cake, which was prepared with the ever-faithful jello mold. Chocolate fondue, tunnel of fudge cake, pineapple upside-down cake and baked Alaska were also popular in the 1960s.
22. Twiggy in a pinstripe suit
This 1967 photograph depicts English model Twiggy in a suit from one of her fashion collections. Having emerged out of the famous London scene, the model became a 1960s cultural phenomenon concurrent with the “British Invasion” of rock bands to the United States. Twiggy has continued to model in recent times too, with one of her more prominent jobs being with British department store Marks & Spencer.
21. Jackie O
In this photograph from 1970, Jackie O – who at the time was married to wealthy shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis – sports a stylish jacket, polo neck and flares. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Jackie was one of the most influential style and fashion icons of the 1960s. Originally a socialite and photojournalist from New York State, Jackie met John F. Kennedy in 1952 and went onto become first lady of the United States from January 1961 to November 1963.
20. The Beach Boys
With more than 100 million record sales to their name, the Beach Boys are one of the most successful and influential rock groups of all time. Hailing from California, the group originally consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson and Mike Love and Al Jardine. The guys were the vanguard of surf rock, of course, but their musical style blended jazz, R&B and rock to forge a sound that was uniquely their own.
19. John and Yoko
This photo was taken at the office of Apple Records in London in 1969 – the same year that John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married. Interestingly, the couple’s honeymoon was also the subject of an artistic collaboration that saw the pair depicting events for lithographs. This was followed by John and Yoko’s famous bed-in – a way in which the couple protested the Vietnam War.
18. Diana Ross and the Supremes
Quintessential diva and music legend Diana Ross enjoyed a spectacular solo career through the 1970s and ’80s. Yet it was her time with the Supremes in the 1960s that some critics still consider her most creative phase. The 1968 photo above, then, includes a Supremes line-up consisting of Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Cindy Birdsong. In that year, in fact, the group reached number 2 on the U.S. album charts with Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations.
17. 1964 Ford Mustang
The 1964 Ford Mustang was the first in a long line of Mustang models. Considered to be the original pony car, this stylish vehicle was understandably a popular entry onto the U.S. automobile scene and was widely imitated by competitors. The car was actually produced until 1973, and each iteration brought new improvements, including larger spaces and more powerful engines. In 1974, though, the Mustang was replaced by the Mustang II, which used different components.
16. Chevrolet Corvette
This 1962 promotional image presents the first-generation Chevrolet Corvettes – also known as the “solid-axle” generation – shortly before the introduction of the 1963 Sting Ray. The newer line of Sting Rays actually had the benefit of coming with separated rear suspension. But nonetheless, the first generation would remain a common sight on American streets for the rest of the decade.
15. Drive-in diners
No one who grew up in the 1960s will forget the classic American drive-in, where you could cruise your vehicle into a lot and tuck into your meal where you parked. Today, of course, the drive-in has been replaced by the drive-through, which has more of an emphasis on speedy turn-over. Yet baby boomers might argue that something has been lost in the impersonal nature of the drive-thru transaction.
14. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
This photo was taken in 1964 in Montreal, Canada, at the first wedding of power couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The ceremony actually took place just days after Taylor had divorced her previous spouse. Unsurprisingly, then, Taylor and Burton’s relationship was often in the limelight in the 1960s and ’70s. In fact, the couple subsequently divorced in 1974, tied the knot again in 1975 and then split for good in 1976.
13. Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn
In 1965 Julie Andrews won the Oscar for Best Actress for her part in the 1960s classic Mary Poppins. And in this photo the star is posing with her award alongside Audrey Hepburn at the ceremony in Los Angeles. That same year, coincidentally, Andrews starred as Maria Von Trapp in the Sound of Music, another classic of 1960s cinema.
12. Jantzen bathing suits
This upbeat Jantzen promotional photo was released in 1966 at a time when emerging California surfing culture was evidently influencing trends in swimwear. Janzten had actually been designing and selling bathing suits from as early as 1916, though. The company had even pioneered the one-piece, rib-stitch suit and performed a deft publicity feat by marketing bathing suits as “swim suits.”
11. Bell bottom trousers
Also known as flares, bell-bottoms taper outwards around the ankles in the shape of a bell and were popular in the U.S. and Europe in the 1960s and ’70s. Clogs, Chelsea boots and Cuban-heels were also the standard accompanying footwear. And although flares went out of fashion with the emergence of punk, the style enjoyed a revival in the late ’90s and early ’00s.
10. Waterproof coats
Polyvinal chloride (PVC) is often the clothing material of choice for many goths and punks, and in the 1960s PVC or “vinyl clothes” were being produced widely. Designers reportedly even thought that plastic had a futuristic look and so created boots, raincoats and dresses out of it. Today, though, vinyl clothes are more commonly associated with fetishism and risqué lifestyles.
9. Paul Newman
Born in 1925, Paul Newman rose to stardom in the 1960s with a string of memorable performances in films such as The Hustler and Cool Hand Luke. He finished the decade in style, too, with a leading role alongside Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Newman was also a championship racing driving and a philanthropist.
8. John Wayne receiving an Oscar
Born in 1907 as Marion Robert Morrison, John Wayne was a prolific Hollywood actor who starred in 142 films during his long-running career. Frequently seen playing rugged and macho characters on screen, John Wayne therefore personified mythic American hardiness and self-reliance. The actor received just one Oscar, though, for his performance as an ill-tempered marshal in True Grit.
7. Roger Moore and Isabelle McMillan
Taken in 1965, this photograph depicts Roger Moore and Isabelle McMillan on the set of The Saint. Produced in the United Kingdom, The Saint was indeed a pillar of 1960s television. A mystery spy thriller, the show starred Moore as antihero Simon Templar, who uses unconventional methods to help those in need.
6. Elvis and Priscilla
In 1967 Elvis and Priscilla Presley married in a low-key ceremony in the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. This photo was actually taken at their champagne reception afterwards. The couple eventually divorced in 1973, though, but the pair remained friends until the King’s death in 1977. Interestingly, Elvis had actually met a 14-year-old Priscilla in 1959 when he had been in the U.S. Air Force.
5. Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol
Pop art progenitor Andy Warhol transformed the New York art scene in the 1960s. Campbell’s Soup Cans is among his most famous works, of course, but the artist is also known for exploring fame and celebrity in ways which had never been done before. The above image was taken in 1965 and depicts Warhol with actor Edie Sedgwick, one of his so-called “superstars.”
As all rock ’n’ rollers know, Woodstock was an epoch-defining music festival that hosted some 400,000 unwashed revelers. Advertised as “an Aquarian exposition,” the three-day festival took place from August 15 to 18, 1969, in White Lake in New York State’s Catskill Mountains. The resulting event had such an impact on popular culture, in fact, that in 2018 plans were announced for a 50th-anniversary festival at the same site in August 2019.
3. More supermarkets
There were several factors that contributed to the rise of modern supermarkets in the 1960s. Firstly, domestic freezers became widely available, transforming the ways that families bought and stored food. Secondly, the advent of the automobile enabled both customers and suppliers to travel greater distances. And finally, assembly production lines allowed processed food to be produced more cheaply and in greater quantities.
2. TV furniture
Flat-screen televisions these days are decidedly minimalist compared to their forerunners. In the 1960s, in fact, a television was not just a television. Frequently, the tube was a piece of furniture that incorporated some other fixture or object, such as a lamp, bureau or cabinet. Taken in 1969, for example, this image depicts a woman reading a message from her combination TV-fax machine.
1. Steve McQueen
Known as “The King of Cool” thanks to his tendency to play anti-heroes, Steve McQueen was an Academy Award-nominated actor. And over the span of his career, McQueen starred in revered classics such as Papillon, The Great Escape, The Towering Inferno and Bullet. In this 1966 image, the actor can be seen posing with a sports car at Riverside Raceway in California.