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The Gettysburg Address
Abraham Lincoln (indicated by red arrow) arrives at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863, not long before delivering his Gettysburg Address.
The Last Lifeboat Off The Titanic
A handful of surviving images depict the Titanic on the water, just days before the ship's tragic accident on April 15, 1912. Images of survivors' rescue — like the one here, depicting the last lifeboat evacuating the ship — are less common.
The First Flight
Orville and Wilbur Wright's historic 1903 flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina made them household names. As much as we revere that moment, how many of us have actually seen the image, snapped just seconds after takeoff, of history being made?
The Bomb, From The Ground
Popular photos of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings often capture the event from an aerial perspective.
While this perspective makes for a powerful image, it obviously doesn't capture the blasts' terrifying scope to those on the ground at the time. This is what makes this photo of the atomic cloud rising over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 so devastating. The blast pictured here would soon kill at least 75,000 people.
Neil Armstrong Just After The Moon Landing
As historic as the July 21, 1969 moonwalk was, most popular images of the event stop and start at footage of Armstrong or crewmate Buzz Aldrin positioned on the lunar surface.
Here, we see a lesser known photo worth popularizing: Armstrong back in the module just after making history, the whole story written right there across his face.
The First Photograph Ever Taken
In this one-of-a-kind case, the photo itself is the event. This otherwise unremarkable view from the window of a Burgundy, France estate is in fact the oldest surviving, permanent photograph in existence.
Taken in 1826 or 1827 by French photography pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, this image used a unique process known as heliography. First, Niépce set his camera to an eight-hour exposure over a pewter plate coated with asphalt. He then wiped away the areas of the asphalt not hardened by sunlight to reveal a primitive photograph.
Our collective image of Abraham Lincoln likely comes from either painted portraits or a small group of studio shots by photographer Matthew Brady.
To see Lincoln out in the real world and towering over his peers is another thing altogether.
Pictured: Lincoln stands on the battlefield at Antietam, Maryland with Allan Pinkerton (the famed military intelligence operative who essentially invented the Secret Service, left) and Major General John A. McClernand (right) on October 3, 1862.
Tesla And His Transmitter
Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla is now revered for a host of accomplishments in electrical engineering. But none of his accomplishments capture his "mad scientist" appeal quite like the crackling bolts of his magnifying transmitter, an advanced version of his famed Tesla coil used for the wireless transmission of electrical energy.
Pictured: Tesla sits near his firing transmitter in his Colorado Springs laboratory, 1899.
Samurai In Action
Much like the knights of Europe, the samurai of Japan belong to another time — and one which we likely do not associate with the camera given their popular depictions in paintings, illustrations, and woodcuts.
Yet the samurai, long after their medieval rise, persisted into the late 19th century, by which time the camera could document them. This photo was taken in 1860, around 15 years before the reformist government abolished this warrior class.
The Assassination Of Robert F. Kennedy
The Zapruder film famously documents the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the image taken just after the fatal shooting of Robert F. Kennedy is less known.
Kneeling beside Kennedy on June 5, 1968 is a waiter named Juan Romero, who happened to be shaking the senator's hand when assassin Sirhan Sirhan fired the fatal bullets.
D-Day, Through The Soldiers' Eyes
The camera was very common by World War II, meaning that plenty of photos of the Allied forces' June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion exist. Still, many of these photos provide but a distant survey of the battle scene.
This photo (entitled "Into the Jaws of Death"), on the other hand, brings the event to life by offering the perspective of Allied soldiers about to storm the beaches and make history.
The Battle Of Gettysburg
As with D-Day and WWII, the Battle of Gettysburg carries a certain weight to many Americans — even to those who know almost nothing else about the Civil War.
Fought in and around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania between July 1 and July 3, 1863, the battle saw nearly 8,000 people killed and turned the Civil War in favor of the Union. All totaled, Gettysburg was the costliest battle ever fought in the U.S. Partially titled "A harvest of death," this image begins to reveal that cost.
The Capture Of Saddam Hussein
On December 13, 2003, nine months after the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American forces captured deposed leader Saddam Hussein in a farmhouse near Tikrit. While the war generated heated debate at home, this capture marked a decisive moment in the Iraq War and the larger War on Terror.
Images of a haggard Hussein post-capture made headlines around the world, but the photos of the actual capture largely didn't. Here, we see just that: Iraqi-native-turned-American-translator known only as Samir holds Hussein to the ground just after U.S. forces discovered him.
The Eiffel Tower Under Construction
Because the image of the Eiffel Tower is so iconic, there's a jarring visual clang in seeing it unfinished.
This July 1888 photo reveals a rare glimpse of the tower under construction, 15 months into the process and still nine months away from completion.
Unboxing The Statue Of Liberty
Much like the Eiffel Tower, it's hard to think of the Statue of Liberty as anything other than a timeless colossus. It was of course a statue built by human hands, and one which France shipped to the States in 214 crates and had an assembly cost of about $10 million (adjusted for inflation).
On June 17, 1885, those crates reached the U.S. and the great unboxing began.
Pictured: The statue's face not long after removal from its crate.
Pearl Harbor (Like You've Never Seen It Before)
Many photos of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor exist, but none illuminate the moment quite like this one.
While other images of exploding ships provide a sense of the chaos, this image, with stunned soldiers in the foreground, brings the true scale and anarchy of that destruction into focus.
The San Francisco Earthquake Of 1906
With at least hundreds more deaths than Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 remains the second deadliest disaster in U.S. history. The quake began on the morning of April 18, and by the time it ended, the quake had levelled about 90 percent of the city, left 225,000 homeless, and at least 3,000 dead.
Yet amid that pandemonium, at least one photographer managed to capture a stark, evocative image that reveals the $10 billion destruction.
Vincent Van Gogh's Actual Portrait
By 1873, the camera was an established enough invention that it wasn't unheard of for even a 19-year-old art dealer like Vincent van Gogh to have been photographed.
Not only is this just one of two confirmed photographs of the famous painter (and the only one of him post childhood), this photo provides a jarring look at the actual visage of a man we tend only to envision by way of his famous self-portraits.
More to come.