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Rare Historical Photos Reveal More Than Immediately Meets The Eye

A smiling postman in Chicago poses with a load of Christmas parcels in 1929

You’ve heard that a photo is worth a thousand words, but photos like the collection here have stories with so much more to say. These pictures give an insight into what life was like in eras as disparate as the 18th century and the 1970s. You’ll see what life was like for a kid in America during the baby boom, and how the Native people of America lived long before the modern metropolis existed. These rare historical aren’t just informative, they’re a fun look at a time long gone, and maybe a time that you wish you could go back to. Prepare to be astonished and read on!

Source: Google
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Christmas time in the city is one of the greatest times of the year. People are smiling, the snow is falling, and presents are being opened by boys and girls alike. You’ve heard that the United States Post Office delivers whether there’s rain sleet or snow, and in that case that claim goes double because this happy go lucky postman is working on Christmas Day. In the 1920s the postal service didn’t have nearly as many people working for them as they do now, and they definitely have the shipping technology to get packages across the country in an expedient way. The packages may not have arrived as quickly as they could, but it feels good to know that guys like this were out there making sure presents made it to the right tree. 

This 1,000 year old Buddha contained the remains of a mummified monk

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Have you ever looked at a giant statue and wondered if there’s anything inside, Kinder Egg style? While every statue in the world isn’t full of the mummified remains of a monk, cleric, or even just regular ol’ person, this 12th century Buddha statue is an exception to the rule. When this statue was brought into the Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort a CT scan revealed the mummified remains of a Buddhist master known as Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School. Researchers found that prior to mummification the buddhist monk had his organs replaced with sips of paper covered in Chinese writing.

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Colorized photograph of a worker standing on the unfinished Golden Gate Bridge in 1935.

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It’s easy to take the Golden Gate Bridge for granted. Thousands of people drive across it every day and they biggest problem they face is traffic. That’s all thanks tot he brace construction workers who put their lives on the line to create this giant red feat of industrial design. Building began in earnest on January 5, 1933, and the next four years saw a construction that used a $130,000 safety net to save 19 different men who fell from the bridge over the course of the four years that it took to construct. The men who survived the fall became known as the “Halfway to Hell Club.”

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Only cool kids rode a Schwinn

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In the ‘60s the coolest bikes were Schwinn Sting-Rays, the bikes that everyone wanted. Known as "the bike with the sports car look,” the Sting-Ray was the official bike of the summer, inspiring kids across America to take to the streets and tear through town with their friends causing trouble and having a heck of a good time. Sting-Rays don’t look like your standard mountain bike, their short frame, high rise handlebars and long, bucket shaped saddle has the feel of a vehicle that’s like no other. After they were introduced in 1963 more than 45,000 bikes were sold and over the course of the next few years Schwinn continued to dominate the market with their magnificent Sting-Rays.

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Brooklyn Supreme was the world's largest horse and it weighed 3,200 pounds

Source: Reddit
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There are horses and then there are horses, big ones that tower over men and seek to gobble them alive - Brooklyn Supreme was one of those horses. According to a write up on Brooklyn Supreme the horse weighed 3,200 pounds and stood 19.2 hands, and he stood 10 feet around. The horse was so large that he needed a 30 inch bar of iron to make one shoe. For as big as Brooklyn Supreme was he was rather gentle. An old newspaper clipping about the horse stated that he had a penchant for “stealing ice cream cones and goodies from unsuspecting little boys and girls.”

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A breastplate that belonged to 19 year-old Antoine Fraveau - he didn't survive the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

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Ouch. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when looking at this amazing piece of body armor. Not only did the cannonball that hit the young Antoine Fraveau pierce the body armor, but it went straight through the young man and out his back. That’s definitely one way to have a final day on the battlefield. While fighting at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, Antoine Favreau was sent into the field by Napoleon and quickly found an unfortunate end. It’s amazing that his immaculate bronze breastplate was so well reserved, especially in the heat of battle.  

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The line of customers at the Grand Opening of the first McDonalds in Moscow, 1990.

Source: Reddit
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McDonalds has been a staple of the American way of life since the first restaurant was opened in 1948. By the ‘70s the fast food restaurant was more than an inexpensive place to eat, it was a way of life. It represented freedom, so when McDonalds made its way to Russia in 1990 people flipped out and stood in line for hours to get a Big Mac on January 31, 1990. At the time the food at the new establishment was steep, with a Big Mac running 3.50 rubles, more than a monthly bus pass. That didn’t matter to the people of Moscow, they were ready to thaw out the Cold War with a burger hot off the grill.

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Special delivery, two gals deliver ice in lower Manhattan, New York City, 1918.

Source: Pinterest
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Before everyone and their grandmother had a refrigerator and a freezer in their homes people depended on ice deliveries to help keep their food cold for long periods of time. These smiling beauties are carrying out a major necessity for people living in big cities, and much like the women who followed in their footsteps in the 1940s, they’re taking over jobs from men who were overseas for the war. During World War I any able bodied gentleman who was of the proper age joined the military to help the Allies in Europe, leaving thousands of jobs unattended. American women didn’t flinch and they picked up the slack, or in this case the ice. 

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Cellphones were predicted in 1953, but what apple smart watches?

Source: Reddit
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Okay so this guy is either a time traveler or he just had an uncanny ability to think about the future. Mark R. Sullivan of the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company was clearly used to the changing of technology and understood that these types of things are in a constant state of flux. It’s fascinating to see him guess the invention of smart phones straight down tot he advent of video chat applications. And while there’s not technically a translation app for our phones just yet, we do have google translate and a variety of programs to allow us to better understand one another. 

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This 2,000 year-old green serpentine stone mask was discovered at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Mexico.

Source: Reddit
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Now here’s something you don’t see every day - or even every thousand years. In 2011 this mask was discovered by archaeologists in Mexico beneath the the Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Sun. This mask, which was found with a series of other collectibles is believed to have been placed at the bottom of the pyramid as an offering to the gods at the onset of the construction. While this mask was found at the pyramid of the sun, bones and other human remains were found buried at the base of the Pyramid of the Moon. It makes you wonder if there's something fascinating like this item at the base of every pyramid.

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Before "The Customer Is Always Right existed," rudeness was not tolerated.

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Is there any phrase in the English language that’s as devastating as “you get no hot dog?” Today we’re used to diners and restaurants that are owned by major corporations, that have a reputation to keep up with, but in the 1040s and ‘50s people working at diners were often either owners or long time employees of their places of business and they didn’t want to put up with a bunch of jerks ruining their day. This sign is just one of many that dotted the United States to let customers know that if they acted up or got out of control they’d be looking for a meal elsewhere. 

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Sir Ian McKellen with his stunt and scale doubles on the set of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"

Source: Reddit
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Doesn’t Ian McKellan just seem like the coolest guy? He’s appeared in so many memorable roles, but he says that many of his greatest on camera memories come from filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand. He told Indiewire

It may be my impression but I don’t remember a green screen on The Lord of the Rings. If Gandalf was on top of a mountain, I’d be there on the mountain. The technology was being invented while we were making the film. [In ‘The Lord of the Rings’] I wasn’t involved in any of that, I was away acting on a mountain. I tend not to remember the bad times, but I don’t think there were any. I think I enjoyed every single moment of making those films.
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Workers pose next to the chain used for the Titanic's anchor, 1910.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
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The Titanic was meant to be unsinkable, and with the amount of man hours that went into it you’d think that claim would be warranted. In order to simply build one anchor workers had toward with tons of high grade steel. One entire anchor was made of about 16 tons of steel which had to be super heated until it was read hot in order to form the anchor’s shaft. At the time of construction there were more than 3,000 men employed in the small English town where the anchor was made, and it took two years from start to finish to actually finish construction. 

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Retired teacher, Antonio La Cava, driving his "Il Bibliomotocarro"

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Reading is one of the most important things for a developmental brain. Whether someone is taking in fiction, science, or a meaty biography, those words help us grow and realize our full potential. Books can inspire us to great things and teach us things we never knew about ourselves, which is why it’s a shame when less developed areas don’t have the kind of literary access that’s available in larger cities. Retired teacher Antonio La Cava is attempting to fix that in Spain with his Bibliomotocarro, a traveling library driven from town to town to offer books to people of all ages. He told the BBC:

I was strongly worried about growing old in a country of non-readers. Carrying out such action has a value, not only social, not only cultural, but has a great ethical meaning.
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Conrad Veidt, the original inspiration for the Joker, from the 1928 film "The Man Who Laughs."

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Conrad Veidt was the master of changing his look to suit his roles, and in The Man Who Laughs he transformed himself completely in order to look like a sideshow freak who was forced to smile for the rest of his life. More similar to The Hunchback of Notre Dame than modern horror films, Veidt’s turn as the character has influenced both the horror genre and one of the most beloved villains of the 20th century. While creating the initial design for the Joker, Batman’s nemesis, the artists behind the world’s greatest detective studied Veidt’s look and used it to create their forever smiling character.

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Dolly Parton with her husband Carl Dean, together since her first day in Nashville

Source: Reddit
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There has never been and there never will be a love like the one between country songstress Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Dean. These two have been together since Parton’s first day in Nashville. They met at the laundromat and they’ve been going steady ever since. Why don’t more people know about Dolly’s man? Because they don’t their marriage in the limelight. Parton explained:

He’s always supporting me as long as I don’t try to drag him in on it. He’s always been my biggest fan behind the scenes… But anyway, he’d never come dragging around. I’d rather bring somebody else with me, you know? He’s never jealous of that either.
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A Victorian radiator with a built-in warming oven to keep plates or food warm.

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The Victorians may not have been as technologically advanced as people are today, but they were some of the most forward thinking people since the Romans. As the population grew and space became more of an issue than it had ever been before, the Victorians came up with crafty new ways to maximize what space they had while maintaining a handsome looking home. This radiator that was built with a warming oven was used in dining rooms at the turn of the century to not only keep the room warm but to warm food and drink. These radiator warmers worked remarkably well with some of them keeping drinks as warm as 110 degrees

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Blackfoot tribe members stand proud at Glacier National Park in Montana, 1913

Source: Photograph by Roland W. Reed
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One of the most beautiful places in the country is Glacier National Park in Montana, but it hasn’t always been a park that you can just stroll into. All the way up to the 1800s the Blackfeet Nation occupied the area that once stretched as far south as Yellowstone National Park before it was taken in a land grab by the United States government. In 1895 the US government worked out a pretty rough deal for the tribe that garnered them only $1 million and the guarantee that the area was meant to remain public lands. To make matters worse, when the Blackfeet were removed from the land a fence was put up to keep them from entering whenever the felt like it, requiring them to get the permission of a park ranger whenever they wanted to visit. 

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Robin Williams signs autographs and tells stories at a homeless shelter in Boston, 1988.

Source: Reddit
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Funnyman Robin Williams was known as an off the wall comedian who could bounce between impersonations and incredibly dramatic stories that could bring audiences to tears (Good Will Hunting anyone?). But he was also someone who cared deeply about people who had less than him. According to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, Williams made sure to come down to the local homeless shelter to entertain anyone around while signing autographs. He told WBZ-TV:

He came down to the Long Island Shelter, which is a hospital that I had just built, a shelter for homeless people in Boston, getting them off the freezing streets and he was phenomenal. He was just extraordinary, entertaining all the homeless people and the staff.
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Walt Disney takes a final stroll through Disneyland before the gates open in 1955

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On Sunday July 17, 1955 in Anaheim, California, Disneyland opened its gates at 2:30 PM, with an array of sights for families across the country to behold. With five themed lands and 18 attractions, the park was, and still is, a must experience place. At the opening ceremony Walt Disney christened his 160-acre park with these words:

To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past...and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts which have created America... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
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The Statue of Liberty in its original copper form before it was transported to New York City

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The Statue of liberty has long inspired awe in the eyes of Americans as she stands over New York, inviting the tired and poor onto the shores. But this intensely American statue was constructed in France by Gustave Eiffel and based on a design by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. While the statue appears a deep sea foam green, she was originally copper. The green patina comes from years of oxidation caused by the salty sea air. After France sent the Statue of Liberty to America in 1886 the United States returned the favor by sending over a quarter scale replica of the statue which can now be seen in the middle of the river Seine.

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Mr.Rogers and Officer Clemmons, the first black supporting character on children's television

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Anyone who grew up watching Mr. Rogers remembers Officer Clemmons, the kind hearted police officer who often stopped by the neighborhood to say hello. When Clemmons appeared on the program in 1969 it was the first instance of a recurring black character on a children’s series. Even though it was a largely important role, one that established a positive portrayal of a black authority figure on television, Clemmons was unsure about accepting the role. He said:

Fred came to me and said, ‘I have this idea, you could be a police officer.’ That kind of stopped me in my tracks. I grew up in the ghetto. I did not have a positive opinion of police officers. Policemen were sicking police dogs and water hoses on people. And I really had a hard time putting myself in that role. So I was not excited about being Officer Clemmons at all.


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