31 Historical Photos Taken Just Before The Iconic Moment

Published January 3, 2017
Updated July 21, 2021

From the Titanic to the moon landing, these rarely-seen historical photos reveal how things looked just before history was made.

Tank Approach Tiananmen Square
Hitler's Last Days
Amelia Earhart Before Her Flight
Just Before Saigon Execution
31 Historical Photos Taken Just Before The Iconic Moment
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As awe-inspiring as it is to see Buzz Aldrin standing next to the American flag on the moon, or to see Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima, you can only view these iconic historical photos so many times before they start to lose their meaning.

But when we see, say, Neil Armstrong descending the ladder of the lunar module, about to take humankind's first step onto the moon, we're reminded both of the historical moment's raw reality and of that moment's stakes — of what the world was like in the moments just before everything was about to change.

Sometimes those moments occur just seconds before the big event, sometimes significantly earlier. Either way, they always carry the galvanizing, haunting gravitas of history about to be made.

So while you've likely seen the epochal historical photos of "Tank Man" at Tiananmen Square, of Robert Kennedy lying mortally wounded on the floor, or of the Hindenburg in flames over New Jersey, now it's time to view the rarely seen images captured just before those fateful moments.

Fascinated by these historical photos? Next, take a look at another batch of rare historical photos that depict landmark historical events you had no idea were actually photographed in the first place. Then, enjoy 50 influential photographs that changed our world.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society of history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.