Vintage Photographs That Turn Back Time

1. New York City’s Subway System
Year: 1970-1980

During the late 70s and 80s, New York City’s subway was one of the most dangerous places known to New Yorkers and tourists alike. Although risky, Swiss photographer, Willy Spiller ventured into the system to produce a mysterious series of photos to display the underground commute of the city that never sleeps, fittingly titled Hell On Wheels.

The photo series documents travels during a time where the mad rush of the city combined with rap music, graffiti, the warriors in the cinema, Guardian Angels appearing on trains daily and Ed Koch in charge of a broke and crime-riddled city made for some eye-catching images that seem like they were taken lifetimes ago.

2. Women Boxing On A Roof
Year: 1938

This particular photo was taken on the top of Ball Building, Paramount lot, located in Hollywood. Before the lot was the Paramount studio, it was the Desilu Studio, and before that, it was the Radio-Keith-Orpheum. RKO Radio Pictures Inc. was one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood’s Golden Age, in which it made some notable films in the 1930s and 1940s.

It’s unlikely that the subjected pictures were actually fighting, and judging by their outfits of choice and dance shoes, they were likely dancers practicing on the roof with staged movements. The image displays a group of young women exercising in a manner that was at the time only associated with men, which would have been an unusual thing for a woman to do in that time, particularly boxing as a sport of choice. The original caption read, “Radio Pictures Chorus Girls“.

3. The Weekly Food Ration (UK)
Year: 1943

When World War II began, it impacted how people lived day to day. Around 1939, the United Kingdom imported two-thirds of its food supply, all of which had to be shipped over oceans teeming with German U-boats. Surprisingly, around 60 percent of Britons told government pollsters that they wanted a new rationing system to be introduced in order to prevent the risk of unfair shares of food.

Every individual at the time was issued with a personal booklet which would then have been taken to a registered shopkeeper in order to receive their share of supplies. At first, only bacon, butter and sugar were rationed, but gradually, the list grew and began including meat, cooking fats, tea and cheese. Of course, the allowances fluctuated throughout the war, but on average one adult’s weekly ration was approximately 113g bacon and ham (about 4 thin slices), about 227g minced beef, 57g butter, 57g cheese, 113g margarine, 113g cooking fat, 3 pints of milk, 227g sugar, 57g tea and 1 egg. Other foods such as canned meat, fish, rice, condensed milk, breakfast cereals, biscuits and vegetables were available but in limited quantities.

4. The Original Moulin Rouge
Year: 1914

On 6 October 1889, the original Moulin Rouge opened in the Jardin De Paris at the foot of the Montmartre hill. Its owner, Spaniard Joseph Oller and his manager Charles Zidler were well-known businessmen who took the public’s tastes into consideration amongst it building operation and aimed to allow the wealthy members of society to come together in a fashionable district, Montmartre. Nicknamed as “The First Palace of Women” by Oller and Zidler, the cabaret quickly became a great success.

The venue was largely decorated with glittering electric lights and a huge red windmill at the very front of the building. The red windmill was designed to indicate the history of Montmarte. The garden at the establishment and it’s al fresco café was known as the Jardin De Paris Elephant, after the founders purchased a giant stucco elephant they had seen exhibited at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889. At the Moulin Rouge, the elephant served as a luxurious opium den where for a single franc, gentlemen could enter by way of a spiral staircase inside the leg and be entertained by many forms of entertainment, including the crowd favourite – belly dancers.

Start the discussion

to comment