October 17, 2018 10:23 am
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The History of America Captured In 50 Iconic Photographs

It’s not always about selfies and dick-pics.

The invention of the camera has allowed human beings to capture the most significant and momentous moments in history.

And one country steeped in infamous, jubilant and controversial history is the United States of America.

From the assassination of presidents to putting man on the moon, the US has proven to be a country at the forefront of innovation and advancement, but also a country to suffer at the hands of discrimination and tragedy.

Here are 50 of the greatest moments in American history caught on camera:

1. Battle of Gettysburg – July, 1863

Soldiers lie dead on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In this one battle during the Civil War, more than 50,000 Union and Confederate troops were either killed, injured or captured.


2. President Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address – 19th, November, 1863

A crowd surrounds President Abraham Lincoln as he delivers one of the most iconic speeches in history. ‘Four score and seven years ago…’


3. Bison Skulls for Fertiliser – 1870

Due to their desirable skins, entrepreneurs and hunters killed so many bison, the remaining population was close to extinction. The photo shows a pile of around 100,000 skulls, all left to decay.


4. Flight at Kitty Hawk – 17th, December, 1903

Taken in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville Wright mans the controls on the lower wing, piloting the Wright Flyer on the very first powered flight. His brother, Wilbur Wright, can be seen guiding and steadying the plane as it accelerated along the runway.


5. The Wake of the San Francisco Earthquake – April 1906 

The wide-spread destruction cased by an earthquake that hit throughout the city. The earthquake ignited a devastating firestorm which destroyed around 80% of the city, and claimed the loves of about 3,000 people.


6. The “Migrant Mother” – March, 1936

Taken during the height of The Great Depression, photographer Dorothea Lange entered a camp 2,500 destitute migrants, and captured this “Migrant Mother”. The photo came to define America’s Great Depression era.


7. The Hindenburg Disaster – 6th, May, 1937

The tragedy ended the era of passenger-carrying airships, the photo was taken at the moment the Hindenburg exploded above Lakehurst, New Jersey. 36 people died in the explosion.


8. The Allies Invade Normandy – 6th, June, 1944

This image shows the first disembarking of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division troops onto Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. This was the beginning of the end for Hitler’s reign on France, and helped to end the Second World War.  Two-thirds of Company E troops became casualties.


9. The Planting of the Flag on Iwo Jima – 23rd, February, 1945

U.S. Marines and a United States Navy hospital corpsman raise a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan. These men fought alongside more than 70,000 Marines, sailors, and airmen on the tiny eight-square-mile volcanic rock and sand. Despite marking the near-end of WWII, 3 of the soldiers in this picture died within a few days after it’s capture.


10. The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – August, 1945

The iconic mushroom clouds are seen rising over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atom bombs levelled everything standing on the ground. The picture on the left is of Hiroshima, bombed on Aug. 6, 1945, while the picture on the right shows the Nagasaki bombing on Aug. 9, 1945. The bombs claimed the lives of nearly 160,000 people in Hiroshima and another 75,000 in Nagasaki.


11. V-J Day In Times Square – 1945

After the US’ victory over Japan in the Second World Way, a sailor passionately embraces and kisses a nurses at the celebration in Times Square.


12. The Mugshot of Rosa Parks – 1955

Taken in Montgomery county, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her her seat on a bus to a white man. Rosa and her act of defiance went on to become a pivotal cog in the Civil Rights Movement.


13. “The Little Rock Nine” – 1957

Elizabeth Eckford became one of the first African-American students to be attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Seen here, making her way to class, she is hounded and harassed by a mob a white students.


14. MJK: ‘I have a dream…’ – 28th, August, 1963

Martin Luther King, the US Civil Right Movement leader, waves to hundreds of supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial moments after delivering his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington.


15. President John. F. Kennedy’s Assassination – 22nd, November, 1963 

After being fatally shot by a sniper, JFK can be seen slumped over the back-seat of his presidential limousine in Dallas. Secret Servive agent, Clint Hill, can be seen pushing first-lady, Jacqueline Kennedy back to her seat and she tries to protect her husband.


16. Lyndon B. Johnson is Sworn in as US President – 22nd, November, 1963

Shortly after the assassination of JFK, Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office to become US president. Jackie Kennedy stands to Johnson’s left as he is sworn in.


17. John F. Kennedy’s Funeral – 25th, November, 1963

Standing beside his family, 3 year old John Kennedy Jr. is seen saluting his father’s casket in Washington, just three days after being assassinated.


18. Mohammad Ali Stands Over Sonny Liston – 25th, May, 1965

In one of the most iconic images in all of sport, then-Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston after Ali dropped Liston with a short hard right to the jaw. The bout lasted only one minute into the first round.


19. “WAR IS HELL” – June, 1965

Taken during the Vietnam War, this unidentified soldier unintentionally provides the infamous slogan which became associated with this war.


20. James Meredith Marches Against Fear – 6th, June, 1966

Seen here dragging himself across Highway 51 after being shot, civil rights activist, James Meredith screams in agony, after being determined to finish his protest marsh from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. He defied segregation to enroll at the University of Mississippi.


21. “Flower Power” – 26th, October, 1967

An antiwar demonstrator places a flower down the barrel of a gun belonging to an MP blocking the pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.


22. Martin Luther King is Assassinated – 4th, April, 1968

Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson are amonst those standing a the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. They can be seen pointing in the direction of the gunshots.


23. The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy – 6th, June, 1968

Juan Romero, a busboy at the Ambassador Hotel, comforts Robert F. Kennedy after he was shot three times by a gunman. He died in the hospital a day later from his wounds. The killer’s motive for the murder is allegedly a retaliation of Kennedy’s support of Israel.


24. The Salute of “Black Power” – 16th, October, 1968

U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos extend their gloved hands towards the sky and stare downward during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. The came after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200-meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.


25. “Earthrise” – 24th, December, 1968

Whilst orbiting the moon, Apollo 8 crew member Bill Anders snapped this picture showing Earth rising above the lunar horizon.


26. A Smiling Neil Armstrong – 20th, July, 1969

Astronaut Neil Armstrong smiles after being the first human in history to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 landing.


27. The Kent State Massacre – 4th, May, 1970

A 14 year old Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of Jeffery Miller moments after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard. The students were part of a group protesting the Cambodian Campaign. Guardsmen killed four students and wounded nine others – some of whom were just observing the protest. The photographer, John Filo would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for the image.


28. Burst of Joy” – 17th, March, 1973

Another Pulitzer Prize winner, taken at the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, released prisoner of war Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm is welcomed home by his overjoyed family.


29. The Fire on Marlborough Street – 22nd, July, 1975

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for spot news photography, this picture shows a 19-year-old Diana Bryant and her 2 year old goddaughter, Tiare Jones, falling from the collapsed fire escape of a burning apartment in Boston. Bryant would later die from her injuries, but Tiare Jones somehow survived.


30. “Miracle on Ice” – 22nd, February, 1980

In a true underdog story, the United States national hockey team – made up only on amateurs and collegiate players – shockingly defeated the Soviet Union national team, which had won 6 gold medals in the last 7 Olympic games.


31. John Lennon’s Murder – 8th, December, 1980

Whilst walking outside of his Upper West Side home in New York, Beatles member John Legend was shot dead by Mark David Chapman. The image shows the flocks of fans that flooded Central Park to pay their respect to the music legend.


32. Assassination Attempt on President Regan – 30th, March, 1981

Presidential press secretary, James Brady, Washington police officer, Thomas K. Delahanty, and Secret Servive agent, Timothy J McCarthy lie in the street after intercepting bullets intended for President Regan. The gunman, John Hinckley Jr. had fired a total of 6 shots from a busy crowd.


33. The Challenger Disaster – 28th, January, 1986

Shortly after lifting off from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, the Space Shuttle Challenger explodes, killing all seven crew members. The tragedy was blamed on faulty O-rings in the shuttle’s booster rockets.


34. Bill Clinton Runs For President – Autumn, 1992

Presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, laughs with vice presidential candidate Al Gore, as their wives sit on their laps. This photo was taken on their bus during a brief stop in Durham, North Carolina.


35. The Trials of OJ Simpson – June, 1995

O.J. Simpson, a former professional football player, faced murder charges for killing his then-girlfriend, Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter, Ronald Goldman. The picture shows Simpson trying on a new pair of XL Aris gloves that prosecutors demanded he try on in court in LA, California.


36. The Elián González Affair – April, 2000

Elián González left Cuba in a small aluminium boat with 12 other people, including his mother, in search for asylum in America. The other 11 drowned during the crossing, but González was rescued by fisherman and brought in to Florida. This picture shows him being seized by armed guards at the home of his relatives in Miami, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case. In June 2000, he was forced to return to Cuba.


37. President Bush is Informed of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks – 11th, September, 2001

During a visit to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, Chief of Staff Andy Card whispers into the ear of President George Bush, informing him that there had been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Centres in New York City.


38. The Second Plane Hits – 11th, September, 2001

This picture was taken moments after United Airlines Flight 175 was steered by terrorists into the south tower of the World Trade Centres. After the collapse of both towers, 2996 people – including the 19 hijackers – perished, in a scene that was watched around the world.


39. Workers Carry NYFD Chaplin, Mychal Judge – 11th, September, 2001

Mychal Judge had rushed to the site of the terrorist attacks in New York City, in order to pray for the dead and wounded in the streets. After the South Tower collapsed, he was fatally struck by falling debris. This image shows rescue workers carrying his body from the South Tower. According to his biographer, his last words were, “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”


40. The “Dust Lady”, Marcy Borders – 11th, September, 2001

Marcy Borders had worked as a bank clerk for only one month before the 9/11 attacks. After the first place struck, she disobeyed her bosses orders to remain at her desk and pushed her way down a stairwell – a move which saved her life. Unfortunately, the remaining 14 years of her life were plagued by the damage 9/11 had done to her. She became depressed, fearful of every aircraft she saw and did not work for over 10 years. She then became addicted to cocaine, lost custody of her two children and was admitted to rehab.

She died of stomach cancer earlier this year.


41. Raising the Flag at Ground Zero – 11th, September, 2001

“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.” – George Bush addressed the nation after the 9/11 attacks.


42. The Fall of Saddam Hussein – 9th, April, 2003

U.S. Marine Kirk Dalrymple witnesses the statue of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein fall in central Baghdad. After it was pulled down by U.S. troops, Iraqis danced on it in contempt for the ruthless man who ruled them 24 years.


43. Hurricane Katrina – 4th, September, 2004

A man clings for life on top of a van in the flooded streets of New Orleans before being rescued by the US Coastguard. The storm killed at least 1,245 people and caused $108 billion in damage.


44. The Sun Sets on Mars – 19th, May, 2005

The Mars rover Spirit captured this breathtaking picture in 2005 from the surface of the Red Planet, revealing the sun dipping slowly below the distant edge of Gusev Crater.


45. A Mother Returns from War – 11th, September, 2007

After serving a seven-month tour in Iraq, US soldier Terri Gurrola cried and embraced her daughter, Gabriella, after arriving at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.


46. The Situation Room – 1st, May, 2011

U.S. President Barrack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team await news on Operation Neptune Spear’s mission to try and kill terrorist leader, Osama Bin Laden. Taken in one of the conference rooms of the White House Situation Room, we can see how classified document in front of Hillary Clinton has been obscured by the White House officials.


47. The Sandy Hook Massacre – 14th, December, 2012

After a gunman fatally shot 20 children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, state police help guide a line of children to safety.


48. Boston Marathon Bombings – April 15th, 2013

78 year old marathon runner, Bill Iffrig, cowers on the finishing line of the 117th Boston Marathon, after police officers react to a second explosion down the street. The attack killed 3 people and injured an estimated 264 others.


49. The Baltimore Protests – April, 2015

After 25 year old Freddie Gray died from severe spinal cord injury, sustained whilst in police custody, protests and riots occurred at his funeral in Baltimore, Maryland. Making a heart shape with his hands, this protester stands defiant in front of police officers near the CVS pharmacy, which had earlier been set on fire by protesters.


50. Same-Sex Marriage is Legalised – 26th, June, 2015

Supporters of same-sex marriage rejoice outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the high court ruled that same-sex couples now have the right to marry in all 50 states.


One nation, under God, captured in a series of incredible and moving pictures. Here’s to the future of the USA.

Thanks to viralthread for this great article.