In a world where you can just pick up your phone and take a picture, it is hard to imagine a time when photographs didn’t exist. The idea of a device capable of capturing images floated around since the 11th century, but it wasn’t until 1814 that the first photograph was clicked by Joseph Nicephore Niepce. After years of perfecting the camera, our generation can now look back at some historic moments that were captured for the first time ever.
First photo of a Presidential Inauguration, 1857
By 1857, seventeen Presidential Inaugurations would have already been held. However, the inauguration of the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan, went down in history as the first one to ever be photographed.
In 1894, Otto Lilienthal took a leap of a lifetime and became the first person to make a successful glider flight. The image shows Lilienhal in-flight as he glides towards the base of a slope while the moment is witnessed by dozens of spectators.
Every four years, the world looks forward to the biggest series of sporting competitions. The first modern Olympic Games was captured on camera in 1896. It is difficult to tell which event is on display (perhaps the opening or closing ceremony) but the stands are filled with thousands of eager on-lookers, excited to see the first official Olympic Games.
The Wright brothers made history when they flew the first heavier-than-air aircraft during a controlled, sustained flight on December 17th, 1903. The historic moment that changed how we travel, was all captured on camera.
One thing that many persons love about New York City today is the ease of getting around via subway. Although subway-riding is now second-nature for New Yorkers, you can imagine the excitement of the first subway riders in 1904. The photo of this moment shows eager persons standing on the subway train, while others look on from the platform.
In the 19th Century, the idea of a woman voting in the presidential elections was unthinkable! The 1920 image of Minneapolis women lining up to vote for the first time in a presidential election was indeed a milestone for women that paved the way for future generations.
In a stand against segregation, the mother of 6-year old Ruby Bridges volunteered to have her daughter participate in the integration of the New Orleans school system. Ruby passed the entry examination and was admitted to the all-white William Frantz Elementary school, much to the displeasure of the parents, teachers, and students of the school. Ruby’s attendance sparked protests that threatened her and her family’s safety. The image of the first African-American to attend an all-white elementary school in the South is that of the tiny 6-year old Ruby being escorted by three U.S. Marshalls for her protection. The U.S. school system has surely come a long way.