A Peek at the Past

Have you ever stumbled across a site that, at first glance, looks like a cool way to waste 5-10 minutes, and then 3-4 hours later you’re still exploring? I recently discovered a site like this when a friend posted one of their posts to his Facebook wall, and now I’m absolutely hooked. The site is called Retronaut, and their mission is to gather some of the most interesting vintage photographs out there and share them with everyone! This site has it all, and it’s organized by decade, which makes it pretty easy to navigate to the era you’d like to check out. Here are some of my favorite entries so far to start the week off with a little look back in time!  

 An Abandoned New York Movie Theatre

Image courtesy of Matt Lambros

According to this post on the Kings Theatre in New York, the theatre was opened in 1929 and has been sitting vacant in Brooklyn since the 1970s. It’s scheduled for a full restoration by the city of New York to be completed in 2014, but seeing these eerie yet hauntingly lovely photos makes me wish I could explore a little before it’s restored to its former grandeur.  

 The 1908 London Olympics

London has hosted the Olympic Games three times: for the first time in 1908, once in 1948, and just this last summer in 2012. This post pulls together a whole collection of fascinating photographs of athletes in action during the 1908 games, and as you can see from these archers, the athletes looked just a little different when competing than they do today.  

Paris Fashions, 1968

Image by Bill Ray

These women represented the peak of Parisian fashion back in 1968, and in this collection of photographs by Life magazine staff photographer Bill Ray, viewers are given a glimpse of what was considered all the rage on the runway at the time! Which, apparently, included wearing a belt across your forehead…  

 Hairdryer, 1920s

How would you like to see one of these monsters waiting for you when you sit down for a blowout at the salon?  

 Vintage Vertical Parking, 1920s

It’s hard to believe this vertical parking contraption actually existed, but the 1920s did usher in some pretty crazy inventions! I certainly wouldn’t object if my closest major city decided to install a few of these to help with street parking. *grumble grumble*  

Bacon Costume, 1894

From “Bacon and Hams,” by George J. Nicholas

I am without words.  

 Victorian Professional Mutes, 1800s

In one of the more fascinating posts, a pair of professional “mutes” stand ready to perform their mournful duties. Mutes were typically hired to stand around at Victorian-era funerals looking somber as a symbolic protector of the deceased. Professional mourners were also popular, and their slightly more active duties involved shrieking and wailing while often tearing his or her clothing in an attempt to elicit grief from other mourners.  

 USA Shopping Malls, Summer 1990

Image courtesy of Michael Galinsky

In this hilarious collection of images, photographer Michael Galinsky takes you on a journey back in time to the 1990s to see what people in shopping malls all across the country were up to during the summer of 1990. Mickey Mouse half-shirt guy is my favorite, but there are some real gems in here.  

 Wojtek – The Soldier Bear

You really have to go read the story of Wojtek in the post yourself, because nothing I could say here to describe how awesome I think this bear was could possibly do him justice. Hope you guys enjoyed this trip into the past, and make sure to check out Retronaut for more amazing vintage photographs!

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