America looked like a whole different planet from 1870-1920 (52 Photos)

All images found via Shorpy

Via Shorpy

  • heather


    • Cousin Woody

      #33 umbrella = air conditioning

    • Kristen

      You're a stupid fucking cunt, Heather.

      • gtfo


  • James

    It would be pretty cool to see some modern shots of the same places as a comparison, any one recognize some landmarks?

    • It's a trap

      #7 #8 Gay Bars ?

      • Justin Cider

        LOL, HA HA HA!! That made coffee come out my nose!

      • Delta Bravo

        How old are we? 12?

        • Static

          no sense of humor?

          • move along

            It's not that, it just isn't funny to him. Nor me. It's ok though, laugh away. For you, I recommend Daniel Tosh suggesting it would be a laugh riot if his audience gang raped one of their number.

            • dub

              agreed. it's just lame.

        • Adam

          Just because we have to mature as humans, doesn't mean our sense of humour has to mature. Get over it. This is not the site for you if you're looking for deep, meaningful comments.

        • ps86

          says the person commenting on a website with nothing but tits, ass and hilarious immature pictures

          • heywoodjablowme

            fight you bastards!! I hate peace!!

    • Phil

      38 looks awfully like the flat iron in NY


      #43 Is the Valley Green Inn in Philadelphia, It looks nearly identical these days. My wife and I nearly got married there.

    • Book Mechanic

      #12 Appears to be the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

      • dub

        hahaha…you said gow anus

    • Bath Salty Dog

      #31 Instagram'd

    • thedude325

      I'm no New York expert (I've never been there and I'm really shitty at identifying places) but I think #38 might be times square?

      • Brian Rosnick

        Yup. The Flatiron building (Fuller Building originally). This was taken in 1903, a year after its construction.

        • Hobokenguy

          A little NYC geography here–the Flatiron isn't in Times Square but on 23rd street at the corner of Madison Square Park (I work nearby). This most likely is 1 Times Square which is the building the original poster is thinking about.

    • PETE M.

      i recognized two places,,, one is the brooklyn bridge in new york city , the other is the steel pier in atlantic city, new jersey. you're welcome !!

    • nickb

      I haven't been in a while, but I think #18 and #36 are both from Washington DC

  • Maximiliaanvdv

    #7 Looks really badass

    • Anjin-San

      not all of them…

      • Anonymous

        Back when the navy was the branch not to fuck with.

        • TheChris

          Oh they still are not to be f'ed with. Ever heard of the Navy SEALS?

          • Rangers_Lead_The_Way

            True statement! however they are less than 0.5% of the navy… the rest of the navy is still not to be fucked with but only because of their bad ass equipment.
            Before you thumb this down, I'm not talking shit at all, we all sacrifice and we all serve the same country and have a vital role. I can handle a lot of bullshit but I don't think I could deal with being in a sub underwater for 6 months… you submariners are a different breed of tough bastards

            • Submarine

              We're long, hard, and full of sea men.

  • Bangerang

    #3 it only looks like a different planet cause we don't live in black and white anymore.

    • Carl

      Yeah, I remember when they invented color. Crazier than LSD.

      • Hobbes

        ":The world turned color sometime in the 1930's, and it was pretty grainy for a while"-Calvin's dad

        • Pandemonium

          Nice. I was gonna post that excerpt. Good on ya mate.

    • Ravienne_Cullen

      And possibly because people don't wear that much clothing at the beach

      • GernBlansten

        Obvious reply is obvious.

    • Static

      i couldnt imagine going to the beach and swimming while fully clothed. I wonder how many people drowned because that extra weight!

  • the truth

    america has always been shit

    • "THE"

      This is fun
      everyone is thumbing u down, but if u had written
      "america has always been THE shit"
      u would have received lots of thumb up!

      the fuckin power of "THE"

      • the truth

        Still a shit country, no matter how many times you put "the" in

        • imdowngetme

          and everyone in this world wants to live here. you, sir is a dumb ass.

          • Paul

            Not everyone in the world wants to live in the US. You, sir are a sheltered dumb ass.

            • Cin

              And YOU and "the truth" are ignorant pricks who need to crawl back in your nazi holes.

              • China

                shut the fuck up. we own you, bitch.

                • Chinkman

                  Wow, another ignorant ass.

                  • Investment

                    They actually do… The Chinese government is using sovereign wealth funds and Chinese state-owned enterprises to buy up economic assets and huge tracts of land all over the United States. More and more with each year.

            • PubicJones

              So move cocksucker. Simple. You won't find a better place to live.

            • Robert

              fine then go crawl into you piece of shit country. all you people that says europe has all the answers go fuck yourself and leave USA we dont need fucks like you

        • Delta Bravo

          So things are looking pretty good over there on your side of the world, eh? How is North Korea these days?

          • Best Korea

            North Korea profitable! Good time! You defect now!

            • Dictator

              I'm still mourning the loss of my squash partner, Kim Jong Il.

    • 0331

      Aww, is the little troll hungry for attention?

    • Squirrel

      He must be British…

    • Shuffle


    • Robert

      fuck you asshole go eat a dick and die. america has always been THE shit and always will be

    • Patriot

      Without America you would be speaking German with an English accent or still fighting your neighbors for a couple of potatoes.

      • GI Joe

        so….brushed up on your chinese yet?

      • Historian

        Russian, actually. The USSR would continue pushing to the western front and I don't think they'd have plans to liberate any part of europe. If you think the US had the decisive role in defeating germany then either you don't know your history or are very deluded..

        • jimbo

          I believe it was a group effort. Soviets had the man power. America had the assets. You're a shit historian mate.

          • samsquantch

            bottom line?, americans are d bags but they think everyone wants to live there………

        • Chris Wheatley

          And I'm sure without the US everything would have worked out fine…

  • Sean

    #21 would love to sit and listen to what that old lady had to say.

    • Sean

      the one on the train of course, not #24

    • Anjin-San

      Probably she would say something like

      "Tchooof tchooof weeeee thcooooooof weee weeeee"

  • toni796

    where's john marston??

    • AlaskaNick

      I was thinking the same thing!

    • RDR

      A thumbs up for you, sir.

  • @DrDrai1122

    I would love to see what they look like now as a comparison. Put them side by side maybe now.

  • WhiteVanMan

    Dear contemporary americans. Look closely at these pictures and remember that these are the people that worked incredibly hard to make your country great. Your generation undid all of that within 10 years and turned it into one of the most broken and unliked places on earth. Look at the pictures again and say sorry to the men and women.

    I hope you're proud of yourself.

    • TheChris

      Get back in your white van man and kindly drive off a cliff. But please let the small children who are most likely bound by duck tape in the back of your white van (man) out first. Hopefully that generation will be able to undo what you've done to them.

      • Truth

        Not a funny reply Chris

      • GLLee

        chris, you're a dick AND you need to get smarter.

    • Gabe

      You're kind of an ass hole. Where are you from? Canada? Some Euro-trash country? Shut the fuck up. Your scummy country doesn't have shit on the States.

      • Matthew

        Honestly, I have to agree and say he's kind of right. I have lived in Washington all my life and us young folks who don't know shit (I am only 23), And the middle-age folks who have lost their way, have essentially ruined this country. I'm not saying I'm perfect I'm guilty of it as well, And as I type this from a smart phone lol, but it is us tech-addicted young-uns paired with the money hungry baby-boomer generation that has fucked this country in the ass. 😦

        • Nadia Alvidrez

          I have to agree with both these guys. While our country is great, it has a whole lot more wrong with it than people of the younger generation seem willing to admit. You can still be patriotic without being blind to corruption. there is a lot to be proud of, but a whole lot more to be worked on.

          • TheChris

            There is corruption in ANY country. In any branch of any governing system whether local or national. Everyone in politics has their own agenda as well as every big business has its own agenda. Being patriotic doesn't mean put the blinders on and turn a blind eye to every corrupt thing out there. Infact its the opposite. If you love your country so much then stand up and do something about the corruption do something to fix what you don't like about it. If you don't want to try and do something or atleast get behind and support those trying to fix what you don't like then quit complaining about what's wrong. As the old saying goes "if you aren't part of the solution you are part of them problem"

      • Adam

        Actually, you're the asshole. His was an intelligent comment. You're a retard who just imagined a negative comment about the States. I know you're the poster child for American ignorance and probably couldn't even find us on a map but maybe you should come to Canada before you say we're the scummy country. FYI, I've lived in the states. With the exception of your dumbass, it's a pretty fucking cool country and most of the people are incredible! You haven't had a real Thanksgiving until you've spent it in the States, IMO. You fuckhead, are giving your country a bad rep. STFU!

      • Truth

        Seriously though, you are a prick Gabe. How small-minded are you?

      • GLLee

        Gabe, because of the direction our young voters took us in 2008…. TA-FUGGIN-DA Canada is now, as of this week, richer per person that the USA.

        So, Gabe, STFU and get smarter.

    • TheChris

      Oh almost forgot.. if you are an American please leave… if you aren't an American then it truely sucks to be you. I am not sure if you've realized it but thechive and its members are very patriotic. And we don't take kindly to those who put down our home.

      • Nick

        I'm not sure what stinks more – your arrogance or your ignorance.

        • TheChris

          My arrogance and ignorance actually have no smell. My shit however well it stinks pretty bad.

          I get a lot of countries and people don't like the US and that is fine all I am saying is TheChive a patriotic American website isn't the place to voice your anti-America bullshit.

          • Jordan Tunnicliff

            Head in the sand, head in the sand, head in the sand. The OP wasn't attacking America, they were attacking what's happened to America. Americans are great, American politicians are the scum of the earth.

            • TheChris

              my head definitely isn't in the sand. Those who's heads are in the sand are those who think that the time when these pictures were taking were the glory days of America. There was more crime and corruption back then than there is now and it was more accepted. Also people of these times were over worked, underpaid, and lots of times heavily oppressed. There was also (accepted) racism and slavery. Obviously it wasn't all bad times all I am saying is it definitely wasn't all good and that Americans today have it A LOT better than these folks. We did not undo what past generations created we've refined and improved it. I am not blind to the flaws of America today and yes politicians are the scum of the earth as well as high ranking over paid CEOs and grossly overpaid athletes.

              • Kyle

                Um….. During this time period was JP Morgan, Vanderbilt, Carnegie and other extremely wealthy business people that paid 0 in income taxes.

                • And so it began

                  …it was also during this time period (I think around 1910) when all those people sneaked (snuck?) off to Jekyll Island to create the Federal Reserve (which is neither federal, nor are there any reserves).

                • Pandemonium

                  Agreed. It was truly the beginning of the end. Unless that beginning started with the fathers of these men, or their fathers, or their fathers..

              • George

                gawd you're a twit.

              • Doug T.

                1870-1920 I'm a Canadian and I know slavery was abolished before 1870….Seriously dude who are you to shit on my country and then preach not shitting on yours. You most likely know nothing about Canada, so you should just shut up. The states is a great nation with great people, but your doing nothing to prove that with your troll rage.

          • Il Grande Duderino

            "Keep Calm and Chive on"
            I see you're pround of your shit.
            Could you at least get rid of it out of your mouth?

      • Turrebo

        Was typing a serious reply, read your two cents again, realized I could be doing something worthwile instead. God bless you (you're gonna need that in life, by the look of it)

        • XL22

          How is a fictional character going to help him?

          • GLLee

            Could you be a little more rude? The Founders, and currently around 85% of Americans still KNOW this country was built on Judea-Christian values and you, mr dickhead, have two choices, live with it and STFU, or leave.

            I'd bitch-slap you for Turrebo if you were hear… and I bet I'd have to get in line to do it.

            I hear your mom calling you for bath time… run along now. Oh, BTW, you tell your friends that the chicks really like your mom's basement.

    • ddd

      Your generation? Are we all the same age? Is that directed at the 15 year-olds who have had absolutely no say in what has happened? A very select few from a very select generation have fucked America up, and while some blame has to go to everyone because we haven't revolted (our only true power), it's the same in every country. The vast majority of world citizens are very rarely to blame for their countries' evil beyond just wanting a quiet, comfortable, simple life and not one of civil war (and maybe being a bit stupid and gullible on the whole as well).

      • eee

        People are not the problem…governments are the problem.

        • Lyra

          Yeah, but who elects the governments, though?

          • ddd

            people in swing states who are undecided until they step into a fucking voting booth. and millionaires writing the checks that get the media coverage that convince the "stupid and gullible" mentioned above.

            "Power is not alluring to pure minds." – Thomas Jefferson

            Translation – Only assholes work tirelessly their entire lives to try and control other people. Unfortunately, some succeed.

    • Gheene10

      I am not going to agree or disagree but I do have to point out our improvement in women's beach clothing. Back then they were wearing full dresses where all we could see were their necks and faces, now they are wearing sexy bikinis and their pictures fill up most of this site. Let's look at the positive progress people!!!

    • Pants Pudding

      Unliked? That appears to be the case. One of the most broken places? There's a lot that's broken, but I don't see very many places doing well right now.

      Corruption perceptions map here:

      Free economy index here:

      Debt as a pct of GDP (2010):

      We're always free to move to Norway, I suppose.

    • Joey

      fuck you.

    • Damian

      Well some of these were before they let women vote, so blame them. Also before civil rights, before two world wars, McCarthyism and a whole bunch of other shit "our generation" didn't cause. Look at history for what it really was it happened, it wasn't perfect and shaped how things happen today. If anything you can blame most of our problems on these people lol.

      • GLLee

        We NEED another McCarthy, badly. Far too many Marxists in DC for my comfort levels. The Poser in Chief should get the first perp-walk followed by the rest of this administration.

    • Unfkngblvbl

      Well that escalated quickly.

      • 2857

        it really jumped up a notch

    • KC Reichelt

      Won't argue that this country has a got a ton of work to do to live up to how we tend to see ourselves. But seriously, like this generation or the generation before are running the show. It's still the baby boomers and older steering this ship….. cell phones, ipods and facebook aren't whats wrong πŸ™‚ fear is whats wrong… of change, of our own shadow, of anything different. I'm not necessarily a proponent of the disconnected facebook/LOL/emoticon generation but they're a few decades away from being your scapegoat πŸ™‚ but hey, I don't want to knock you off your high horse. Everyone looks like ants from up there πŸ™‚

    • ChestRockwell

      I LOVE LAMP!!!

    • thedude325

      I agree with you. The work ethic is not today what it used to be. The family is not as strong or important as it used to be. There are more people today who are utterly lost in life. There was a strength back then that seems to be dissipating. However, look at some of the things we accomplish today. Back then, we were building a nation, today we are maintaining an established nation. Unfortunately, many take things for granted. Being liked isn't important. Not if we represent freedom, hard work, and ingenuity. Our problem is that many don't believe in these ways of life anymore. We need to get back to our founding principles. The ones that made this country great.

    • Evil Dung Beetle

      Back when men were men, and so were a great deal of the women. 'Cause there was fuck-all else for them to do back then.

    • illWill

      They said that in the 70's too WhiteVanMan -not a new sentiment. Our generation works hard too and will continue to do so for future generations.

    • Robert

      problem is all these lazy fuck that dont know how to pick up a tool and work for a living

    • Voice in the dark

      10 years really? I would have said its been going down the shitter since the 70's. but what do I care, I'm too full of myself to give all these fucks.

    • GEC

      Our generation brought civil rights, an advancement in medicine and technology, better working conditions, state medical programs, housing for the homeless and multi-billion dollar charities. The flooding of stories about moral decay by the media may make it seem like our generation is worse than previous ones but its what gets people's attention. Don't forget people like #24 lived in fear everyday during their time. And don't forget the lifestyle of the 1920s didn't work out too well for them. Previous time periods (such as this) had their moments but don't put them on a pedestal and bash today's generation.

  • bazz

    It sure did look different, see how everyone wasn't fat.

    • Macro

      I was thinking the same thing.

    • spucifer

      Didn't notice but went back and looked, holy crap! Also no Mexicans.

      • Simon

        Where are you going with this?

  • Evdog

    Back in the days before overindulgence in food and obesity… Everyone is so skinny/healthy πŸ™‚

    • FunKiller

      Malnourished and poor. Look at their faces, they sure don't look very happy to me.

    • George

      It's the FDA that can take a lot of the blame for modern obesity. Go look at the trend mainly since its inception.

      • Brian Rosnick

        Not to mention poor gene pools and improper selection when breeding.

    • Turbidity

      And the lifespan was what back then? 55, 60 maybe? I'll take fat and modern medicine for the win.

  • Steve M.

    Awesomeness. Chive, please post more history.

  • Bob

    #39 LOOK, no fat kids, people were not greedy then.

    • Nigel

      That's because they actually went outside all the time because there wasn't a DAMN thing to do indoors.

      • Kristen

        Including taking a shit.

    • Vince-Kristin Aleman

      They were greedy just not as gluntenous


      They also had chores to do. Not like sweeping the floor more like plough the field sort of chores.

    • Will

      And their food wasn't filled with high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial preservatives, and high concentrations of salt.

  • Tom A

    #52 The original Chivettes…

    • mrjimmyos

      F-Find her?

    • Adam

      I wonder if they got a fine for showing too much skin in a public area? Jezebells! :p

    • gnocco

      the one all the way right, find her!!!! moar!!!

    • OhSomeEvil

      looks like they all burned their bra's.

    • Winslow

      i believe thats the first miss america pageant…alantic city, circa 1922?

  • Ravienne_Cullen

    #52 The one on the right's clothes kind of looks like the umbrella she is holding. Also notice the guy on the far left photobombing

    • Unfkngblvbl

      LOL…not sure if old photo or hipsters.

    • OhioChiver

      Thankfully…Hump Day with bloomers faded out fast. πŸ˜‰

  • dave

    Wasn't this also the time when blacks were being hung and so called 'witches' were being burned alive? Not as glorious and innocent as the photos posted would lead us to believe.

    • Robert Mugabe

      The Salem witch trials were 200 years before this time period, and none of them were burned.
      Wasn't a fantastic time to be a black dude, though.

      • heathclif

        aaaand dave comes swooping in with his debbie downer POV.

        Thanks. Just thanks.

    • kevguy

      You are way off on your century dave, and besides the term is hanged, not hung.

      • Kristen

        When we're talking about blacks, the correct term is "hung."

        • Jessica

          you've obviously never been with a black guy.

    • churn

      you are only a couple hundred years off on the witch hangings.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Can you point to any time in history when there wasn't something bad to go with the good? Probably, not. For every golden age, there is likely some dark thing happening somewhere else. I feel sorry for people who have to take something good and ruin by pointing out the bad. Not denying that it was occurring, but damn, is your own life so miserable that you have to ruin things for everyone else?

      I guess some people ain't happy unless they have something to bitch about and if they didn't they'd bitch about that, too.

    • David Speciale

      off by about a hundred years in the witches and the hangings still occur; never the less, move to the middle east and or somewhere that doesnt embrace freedom and see how you speak then.

  • Joe

    Wait a minute, where are all of the fat people?? Hmmm… I don't know, seems fishy to me

  • myles

    merica did not look like a different planet it just looked like a different country @ the time same as every other country chive on from DOWN UNDER yeah it looked different in GODS country BACK THEN TO

  • All white

    Very different indeed, except for that one pic, no black people, must have been a womderful time.

  • Christopher Lang

    This is back when people would leave the flag from the country they left and adopted the United States flag. The American dream was to have a country where you could move to, work hard, and provide for your family. Today unemployment is somehow still high here when I see HELP WANTED signs still out. People feel as though they deserve something they have not earned…

    • Vince-Kristin Aleman

      Before Social Security and government handouts πŸ™‚

    • George

      YES YES!! America is supposed to be a melting pot, not this multi-cultural liberal gibberish.

  • Toymachine

    Ahhh the real America! Before 1913; when the Federal Reserve was created, this was once a great nation! You can see how classy this nation used to be!
    Compared to pics of today, all you see is fat, greed, and dilapidated these days.
    America…get back to your roots!

    • James

      I do what I want

      • smores

        Yay slavery! seriously, lets do this

        • Vince-Kristin Aleman

          This was after slavery idiot! I'm pretty sure America wasn't the only country with slaves, in fact I know it wasn't. So get off it! If you want to talk about slavery, please keep it focused on the present. There is still slavery but everyone seems to focus on American slavery back in the beginning of the country and to the 1860's. Yes there was discrimination and that was wrong but let that shit go already. No one alive in America experienced what those poor people went through and all we can do is look back with reverance to them. And again focus on whats going on now if you want to talk about slavery. I believe its Syria who is moving down the list for this issue in the UN. There is slave trafficking all over the world. Talk about that.

          • thedude325

            Good point. I think America was among the first to do something about the slavery problem. Eventually the rest of the world followed.

            • Commissar

              Actually America was one of the last places to outlaw slavery, about 50 to 100 years behind most of Europe. Strangely Brazil was the last country to outlaw slavery, though that happened pretty soon after the US.

  • Epitomizer

    If it wasn't such a spoiled little shit (i.e. A/C and cell phones), I would like to revisit those times.

  • Missoula

    Aaah… Before people had a sense of entitlement and a me me me attitude. Now we have a bunch of lazy ass whiney bitches. Still love my country but some people need to sack up.

  • Luke

    Woah, I think the Chive let a few knees in there. NSFW heading please.

  • Sid

    So basically it just looked like a bigger 1870s Britain. Nice!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Back to the top