A woman wearing a dress with a fluffy white collar waits backstage at a beauty contest
In Chita, Russia, in the early 1990's, a contestant waits backstage for the "Miss Siberia" pageant.
The entrance to a courtyard in South Africa is painted with colorful geometric shapes, and a dog and chickens wander through the doorway
A colorful entrance leads to a home in KwaNdebele, South Africa, in 1986. The artist, Danisile Ndimande, painted it herself without the aid of sketches or plans.
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, stands out against the night sky.
The Gateway Arch cuts across the night sky in St. Louis, Missouri. The monument is an ode to westward expansion, and it features a tram that goes all the way up and down the Arch.
A horse rolls in the dirt to scratch its back in northern British Columbia
A hobbled horse rolls in the dirt to scratch its back, now free of a saddle. The landscape is the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area, a wild area the size of Maine in British Columbia.
Fireflies streak through a dark forest on a summer night in Tennessee
Fireflies flash and streak through a summer night in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The aim of the spectacular light show is to seduce prospective mates.
A woman in a floral dress walks her fluffy dog down a sidewalk, past some classic cars, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey
A woman walks her dog past some classic cars in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.
Pears sit on a windowsill behind a lace curtain, with the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, appearing through the window
Pears ripen on a window sill in Moscow, Russia. In the background, the Kremlin is visible.
Terraced fields form an intricate pattern in the lowlands of Sarawak, Malaysia
Roads and terraced fields create an intricate pattern in Sarawak, Malaysia. The fields are where oil palms grow, an industry that has tripled in the past twenty years, and led to the destruction of rain forest ecosystems.
Picture of fish swimming through a colorful reef made out of a sunken United States Coast Guard cutter, off the coast of Florida
Divers watch a school of smallmouth grunts swim around a sunken ship. The USCG Duane was intentionally sunk off the coast of Florida to create an artificial reef.
Picture of a tall orange monument rising high above a cathedral in Mexico, with a mountain in the far distance
The Faro del Comercio towers over Monterrey Cathedral in Monterrey, California. At 230 feet tall, it was built in 1984 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chamber of Commerce.
Picture of four boys playing outside of a tomb in Egypt
This autochrome of boys playing in Egypt dates back to the early 20th century. Making an autochrome was a cumbersome process, so most pictures were staged and still. It's possible that this more candid autochrome was made possible by the strong Egyptian sun providing the right amount of light for a quicker process.
A man with a parachute pack strapped to his back jumps out of a plane high above earth
In 1960, U.S. Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger, Jr. set the record for the highest parachute jump, falling 102,800 feet and landing in New Mexico. National Geographic staff photographer Volkmar Wentzel rigged a camera to the inside of the gondola, capturing the moment Kittinger lept and began his fall. The record held until 2012.
A man stands on a branch over an abyss, lowering another man into the Grand Canyon by rope
In the Grand Canyon, brothers Emroy and Ellsworth Kolb rig a rope system to lower to a ledge 55 feet below. Should anything happen, the cameraman would fall 300 feet. The brothers spent their lives as Grand Canyon photographers, with their studio located on the rim of the canyon. The exact date of this photo is unknown, but it could have been taken as early as 1911.
Theology students sit on the floor to take an exam in a mosque in Egypt
Students take an exam at a mosque in Egypt in 1922. While the picture is old, The Mosque of Amir Altinbugha al-Maridani is even older—dating all the way back to 1340.
A trail of bubbles follows some scuba divers in the Indian Ocean
Divers swim in the Indian Ocean as a part of one of Jacques Cousteau's expeditions in the 1950's. The water is colored by a dye that will help the divers find their way back to the boat—Cousteau's famous Calypso.
Children and a dog pose on enormous lily pads in a pond, while adults in waders stand by them
Children on lily pads, ghosted figures, and oversized produce are just three of the quirkier trends in Victorian photography. We do not have identification for those in the photograph, but the Victoria amazonica water lilies grew in the backyard garden of Dr. Henry Bahson, a physician in Salem, North Carolina. Bahson’s lilies are some of the earliest known to grow outside of its native Brazil and outside of a greenhouse.
Picture of a man walking up a hill with large factories emitting smoke behind him
Originally published in 1949 as part of the feature “Pittsburgh: Workshop of the Titans” in National Geographic magazine, this photo is certainly atmospheric, giving the viewer a feel for the industrial weight under which the city was built. Heavy emphasis on industry drove this article, with many of photos featuring workers in plants and factories across the city.
Picture of a child playing with a washtub in an apartment with his family
A child plays with an empty washing tub after his mother and grandmother have completed the laundry. In this small apartment in Zimbabwe’s first high-density township, Mbare, three generations of women and children gather in the room where they study, laugh, and sleep.
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