These Weird, Historical Photos Did Not Age Well
Some photos age well -- and some photos age weird. Tech, fads -- even what people thought was pretty or funny -- was VERY different back in the day, and here's proof, via a collection of vintage photos of the United States.
The oldest photo here is from the late 1880s; the newest is from the early 1980s -- when things were still really, really different, trust.
Our look back begins with an arresting shot from 1951. According to the photo agency, these revelers, at a Halloween festival in Anaheim, California, are dressed in "hillbilly costumes."
Awaiting the Bomb
While active shooter drills became common in schools of the 21st century, the classroom of the mid-20th century wasn't necessarily more carefree.
Here, children at a New York City middle school in 1962 "duck and cover" -- a technique meant to safeguard them in the event of a nuclear attack.
Still Life in the Big City
Arthur Fellig was best known to the world by the name Weegee -- and by his dark, captivating photos of New York City.
At first look, this 1946 shot may look like a classic Weegee-captured crime scene, but it's actually a photo of a mannequin that Weegee laid out presumably for the training (or amusement?) of other photographers.
A group of working minors are snapped at a cotton mill in Lancaster, South Carolina, circa 1908.
Federal standards for child labor were established in 1938.
Socialite and designer Gloria Vanderbilt is pictured in 1979 amid models showing off her signature jeans.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were few fashion things more important than the stitched-on label on the back pocket of your jeans.
Christmas cheer isn't exactly radiating from this circa 1910 shot of a Oklahoma man in a Santa suit who, per the Getty Images caption, "hold[s] his finger out to a stuffed bird of prey. "
Coca-Cola advertisements of the 1920s are credited with popularizing a merrier, jollier version of Santa Claus in the United States.
The Good Old Days
In a 1952 living room, a father helps keep his daughter on her feet as she pretends to smoke a tobacco cigarette.
In 1954, 45 percent of U.S. adults identified as smokers -- an all-time high.
Baseball players (and the home-plate umpire) wear masks in a 1918 contest.
At the time, the United States was gripped by the 1918 flu pandemic.
Children in Seaford, Delaware, in 1938, use an apparatus that seems more fit for a prison than a playground.
Playgrounds began to be designed with an eye toward safety after federal guidelines were issued in the 1970s.
According to Getty Images, this is a shot of a smog experiment conducted in California in the mid-1950s.
Air quality in Los Angeles of the 1950s was notoriously poor.
This a picture of the notoriously bad Los Angeles smog of the 1950s.
This scene was captured in 1955. The majestic Los Angeles City Hall is barely visible amid the muck.
This is a picture of a baby. In a convertible. In a car seat made of metal. With no restraints in sight.
According to Good Housekeeping, in the 1930s and 1940s, car seats for children were essentially made to prevent tykes from crawling around the car (and bothering the grown-ups) -- "[m]eaning there was essentially no emphasis on safety."
This Is Fine
Here's another vintage shot of playground fun.
In this one from 1935, children are seen on a slide that doesn't skimp on altitude.
In 1959 in New York, a woman confronts what appears to be -- but isn't -- a row of mini-microwave ovens.
She's actually deciding on her meal options at what was known as an automat.
Have It Your Way
Here's a shot of an automat purchase in 1964.
Having made her selection and fed the coin-operated machine, a student lifts the door to retrieve her item.
New York City was considered the automat capital of the United States; dozens of the automated cafeterias operated in the Big Apple in the first half of the 20th century.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
The haze in this photo can't be blamed on Los Angeles car culture.
It's courtesy one woman who's seen playing cards (and smoking) in Connecticut in 1941.
In the mid-20th century, even the billboards smoked.
This is a shot of a puffing outdoor ad in Los Angeles, circa 1958.
A Different World
The Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse character costumes look more human than comic on Disneyland's opening day in 1955.
The character costumes were borrowed from a figure-skating show.
By 1972, when this photo was taken, the world-famous Hollywood sign appeared battered from years of neglect.
In 1978, Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner led a fundraising effort to restore the sign.
Modern-day Spring Break crowds might find it a challenge to top this mob scene from 1940.
This is a Weegee shot of New Yorkers attempting to cool off, while packing in, at Brooklyn's Coney Island.
This is another Weegee-captured shot that depicts a brutal East Coast heatwave in the time before air conditioning became widely available.
Here, a man sleeps on the fire escape of his Lower East Side tenement building in 1943.
A girl and boy are seen enjoying a game of classic lawn darts in the early 1970s.
In 1988, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission moved to ban the "long metal tip[ped]" playthings after they were blamed for deaths and hundreds of annual emergency-room visits.
This is another depiction of child labor in the United States of the early 20th century.
This shot was taken in 1919 at a textile mill in Macon, Georgia.
Dianne Feinstein, then the mayor of San Francisco, is seen at a 1982 meet-and-greet with Pac-Man, then the star of Atari.
The video-game mascot was on hand as Atari donated $1 million to San Francisco's Save the Cable Cars Fund.
In the Deep End
Underwater checkers wasn't a noted fad of the 1930s, but it was a curiosity for at least one photographer.
This shot captures a game as played at the bottom of a pool in Florida.
Dance marathons were a noted fad of the Great Depression years.
Here, couples try to stay upright during a competition in Washington state in 1934.
Fortunately, this is not a depiction of turn-of-the-20th-century American dentistry.
It's a staged (and presumably humorous) shot from a 1905 yearbook for Wisconsin's Menomonie High.
This is not a staged gag photo for a high-school yearbook.
This is a shot from 1916 of an early ventilator machine.
This is a shot, circa 1932, of the aftermath of an apparent, but unexplained disaster.
As noted by Getty Images, sideways or no, the clapboard house "is remarkably still intact."
There's something especially chilling about vintage Halloween shots.
This is a photo of a costumed child at a Halloween party in 1941. The costume consists of a bed sheet, a pumpkin-head mask -- and all sorts of menace.
Boys pose for a photo with a seated woman in Oklahoma in 1890.
Though the boys' costumes look elfin, they're wearing Halloween, not Christmas, costumes.
At Your Service
A robot from the now-defunct robot company Androbot delivers an apple to a child for this 1983 shot.
The robot, known as Topo, was controlled by the joystick held in the child's hand.
This photo depicts both the prevalence of child labor and tobacco cigarettes in the United States of the early 20th century.
Here, a boy smokes in a stockyard in Chicago in 1904.
This is a shot of Jail Cafe, a theme restaurant in Los Angeles of the 1920s.
Since 1962, the Jail Cafe's former site has been home to El Cid, L.A.'s famed flamenco-dancing-and-dining establishment.
A woman reads while using an workout machine, as it were, in 1955 at a salon called Slenderella.
The device belonged to a class of contraptions that, in the observation of Maclean's at the time, was meant to help a user melt away pounds by "suffering shock, rattle and ferocious jiggling."
Play at Your Own Risk
Children use a sky-high seesaw at a school playground in Chicago in 1902.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a modern-day playground seesaw should not be able to attain an angle of more than 25 degrees between "a line connecting the seats and the horizontal."
Showing Some Leg
Here, the Chicago White Sox of 1976 model a uniform that looks like something out of the early 1900s.
The Sox wore shorts -- much to the players' dismay -- in three games that season.
A man confronts, and perhaps bemoans, a spelling error on a Los Angeles street in 1949.
The 1940s were the decade when cars became a driving force in L.A.
Here, a jazz band plays at a zoo for an audience of two: a woman, and a polar bear.
This photo was captured circa 1920.
Two girls take a donkey down a city street. circa 1915.
Donkeys played a key role in the Gold Rush era of the mid-1800s.
A tin helmet is about the only protection a local air-raid warden from Dallas has in 1942.
An air-raid warden would help make sure everyone's lights were out during blackout drills that ramped up in the United States after the nation entered World War II.
A day at the beach in New York involves a state-of-the-art device known as a portable radio.
And, yes, this was state of the art for 1952.
Back in 1973, this photo was meant to document the marvel that was IBM's then-new supermarket terminal. Now there's something else that boggles: the prices.
A 39-cent box of cake mix, a 29-cent can of lima beans, a 39-cent bag of pretzels: Not even modern-day dollar stores can beat the prices on this receipt.
Mule Force One
This isn't just any child sharing a love-seat-style saddle atop a mule in 1885 New York.
The dog's companion is future U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
How to depict the U.S. radio boom of the early 20th century?
For one photographer back in the day, the answer was to pose a pair of clothed puppies.
Animal Rights? Nope, Animal Rides
This photo appears to show two women engaged in a turtle race.
And that's exactly what the women are doing in this shot from Miami, circa 1925.
Hole in the Wall Gang
In 1940, children steal peeks at the Brooklyn Dodgers through holes in the outfield wall at Ebbetts Field.
This activity was practically a rite of passage for Brooklynites of a certain era.
Sea of Faces
It's difficult to judge what's going on in this photo of New Yorkers, circa 1967. But give it a try. The answer in one, two, three ...
According to Getty Images, this is a group of moviegoers attending the screening of an unnamed experimental film.
Here's another experimental movie-going experience.
Actor Cary Grant is seen using a cardboard viewer to take in an early 3-D movie at the New York World's Fair in 1939.
Like Santa, the Easter Bunny character doesn't always project warmth in photos.
Here, a catering-company employee dressed as the Easter Bunny delivers a basket of candy in 1982.