Rare Photos of American History

A wood-plank prison in Wyoming, 1893

These 40 photographs span the period from the advent of photography to the 1970s. They provide a glimpse into another world. For me, the most revealing photographs are those of the nineteenth century and the early 1900s. Being almost alien in the 21st century, I find them both enchanting and repulsing in equal measure.

Main picture: a wood-plank prison in Wyoming, 1893

01 La Plaza, as seen from the Pico House. Pueblo Los Angeles, c. 1869

La Plaza, as seen from the Pico House. Pueblo Los Angeles, c. 1869

02 Slave auction place, c. 1870

Slave auction place, c. 1870

03 Burnt District Coffee House in Chicago after the Fire, 1871

Burnt District Coffee House in Chicago after the Fire, 1871

04 Telephone wires in New York, 1887

Telephone wires in New York, 1887

05 Hanging of a stagecoach robber in Texas, c. 1890-1900

Hanging of a stagecoach robber in Texas, c. 1890-1900

11 North American native Chilocco Indian Agricultural School basketball team in 1909

North American native Chilocco Indian Agricultural School basketball

10 Alice Huyler Ramsey (November 11, 1886 – September 10, 1983), the first woman to drive across the United States from coast to coast, in 1909

Alice Huyler Ramsey (November 11, 1886 – September 10, 1983), the first woman to drive across the United States from coast to coast, in 1909

08 Opium den in San Francisco, 1900

Opium den in San Francisco, 1900

07 Chinatown Squad of the San Francisco Police Department posing with sledge hammers and axes in front of August Pistolesi’s grocery store at 752 Washington Street, 1895

Chinatown Squad of the San Francisco Police Department posing with sledge hammers and axes in front of August Pistolesi’s grocery store at 752 Washington Street, 1895

17 Neighbours of Japanese origin were already unwanted in some neighborhoods in 1923

Neighbours of Japanese origin were already unwanted in some neighborhoods in 1923

16 Log motor home by Wade, interior

Log motor home by Wade, interior

15 Log motor home by Wade, 1922

Log motor home by Wade, 1922

14 Motorcycle chariots, 1920s

Motorcycle chariots, 1920s

13 Lawn mowers of the White House grounds, 1918

Lawn mowers of the White House grounds, 1918

22 A life guard and a doctor attempt to save a swimmers life on Coney Island Beach, 1940

A life guard and a doctor attempt to save a swimmers life on Coney Island Beach, 1940 while a bystanders inappropriately smiles ebuliently for the camera

21 Drive-In restaurant on West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1932

Drive-In restaurant on West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1932

20 Workers lay bricks to pave 28th Street in Manhattan, 1930

Workers lay bricks to pave 28th Street in Manhattan, 1930

19 North American native switchboard operator, 1925

North American native switchboard operator, 1925

18 Three friends take a joyride on their ‘new’ vehicle, Ohio, c. 1924

Three friends take a joyride on their ‘new’ vehicle, Ohio, c. 1924

20 Workers lay bricks to pave 28th Street in Manhattan, 1930

Workers lay bricks to pave 28th Street in Manhattan, 1930

21 Drive-In restaurant on West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1932

Workers lay bricks to pave 28th Street in Manhattan, 1930

23 Coney Island, NY, 1940

Coney Island, NY, 1940

24 Victor Mature, Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth (both 30 at the time) meet at a movie premier in London. October 1956

Victor Mature, Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth (both 30 at the time) meet at a movie premier in London. October 1956

25 Elvis Presley joins the Army, 1958

Elvis Presley joins the Army, 1958

26 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev eating a hot dog in Des Moines, Iowa, on which he commented “It’s excellent… we make good sausages but yours are better”, 1959

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev eating a hot dog in Des Moines, Iowa, on which he commented “It’s excellent… we make good sausages but yours are better”, 1959

29 Portrait of hockey goalie Terry Sawchuk before face masks became standard in 1966

Portrait of hockey goalie Terry Sawchuk before face masks became standard in 1966

28 Minoru Yamasaki (right) posing with a model of the World Trade Center he designed, 1964

Minoru Yamasaki (right) posing with a model of the World Trade Center he designed, 1964

27 Couple and friend being abused in a restaurant for the latter being black, USA, 1963

Couple and friend being abused in a restaurant for the latter being black, USA, 1963

 

In 1967, challenging the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon, Katherine Switzer, at the time a headstrong 20-year-old junior at Syracuse University, entered the race

In 1967, challenging the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon, Katherine Switzer, at the time a headstrong 20-year-old junior at Syracuse University, entered the race

32 New York City sidewalks filled with trash during the 1968 strike of sanitation workers

New York City sidewalks filled with trash during the 1968 strike of sanitation workers

31 Arnold Schwarzenegger on his first time in New York, 1968

Arnold Schwarzenegger on his first time in New York, 1968

34 Children play a game on the Xerox Alto, one of the first personal computers with a graphic user interface, 1973. Its monitor was switchable between portrait and landscape mode

Children play a game on the Xerox Alto, one of the first personal computers with a graphic user interface, 1973. Its monitor was switchable between portrait and landscape mode

33 U.S. President Nixon jumps down from the trunk of a limousine carrying him & Pakistani President Yahya Khan in a motorcade to Government House in Lahore on August 1, 1969

U.S. President Nixon jumps down from the trunk of a limousine carrying him & Pakistani President Yahya Khan in a motorcade to Government House in Lahore on August 1, 1969

35 Statue of Liberty as seen from Jersey City, 1963

Statue of Liberty as seen from Jersey City, 1963

36 President Carter with engineers and solar panels newly installed on the White House, 1979. President Reagan had them removed in 1986, to be reinstalled by President Obama in 2010

President Carter with engineers and solar panels newly installed on the White House, 1979. President Reagan had them removed in 1986, to be reinstalled by President Obama in 2010

Barack Obama posing with a group of friends that called themselves the Choom Gang, Hawaii, c. 1979. Choom was slang for smoking marijuana

Barack Obama posing with a group of friends that called themselves the Choom Gang, Hawaii, c. 1979. Choom was slang for smoking marijuana

Robin Williams joins the stunning women of the Denver Broncos’ Pony Express as pro football’s first male cheerleader and prances before 70,000 cheering fans in Denver’s Mile High Stadium

Robin Williams joins the stunning women of the Denver Broncos’ Pony Express as pro football’s first male cheerleader and prances before 70,000 cheering fans in Denver’s Mile High Stadium

40 John Travolta takes Princess Diana for a dance in the White House

John Travolta takes Princess Diana for a dance in the White House

39 Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan posing with clay soldiers at the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, 1984

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan posing with clay soldiers at the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, 1984

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