Do you remember what it’s like to live during the ’70s? Whether you were just a kid or beginning your life as an adult, you’d probably remember these moments from that ever-changing era. From an oil crisis to President Nixon’s resignation, there were certainly a lot of events that made the 1970s a tumultuous time. But still, there were simpler moments and the joys of television and music that make us nostalgic for that time. We’ve collected memories from the ’70s, captured in rarely-seen photos. These vintage photos are a walk down memory lane.
Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks
Throughout the ’70s, kids loved getting a treat from the Good Humor ice cream truck. These kids in the Queens borough of New York are gathered around the Good Humor Man on a nice summer day in July 1970.
Good Humor has been satisfying the neighborhood’s ice cream cravings since 1920. In 1976, Good Humor sold its fleet of trucks in order to focus on distributing to grocery stores. But for kids in the ’70s, nothing was quite the same as chasing down the ice cream truck.
A Softer Side Of Muhammad Ali
In May 1972, boxer Muhammad Ali welcomed his fourth child, Muhammad Ali Jr. with then-wife, Belinda Boyd. Ali was already a heavyweight champion at the time, having won the title in 1966.
It would be another three years from this moment that Ali would fight in the notorious Thrilla in Manila fight in 1975. At 224 pounds, Ali went up against 215-pound Joe Frazier and ultimately won 2-1. The fight had a record international television audience of one billion viewers and goes down in history as one of the best sports matches of all time.
The Ford Pinto Became One Of The Most Infamous Cars In History
The 1970s saw the introduction and total failure of a Ford model called the Pinto. This subcompact car became infamous for bursting into flames if its gas tank was ruptured in a crash.
The total number of casualties as a result of these rear-impact-related fuel tank fires isn’t clear, but reports range from 27 to 180 deaths. This failure uncovered the fact that Ford had rushed the car through production and onto the market, and was a total PR disaster for the automotive company.
George Lucas Made A Teen Comedy Before Star Wars
George Lucas may have had great success in 1977 with Star Wars, but you might recall that several years before that he had his first feature-length directorial success with 1973’s American Graffiti.
The coming-of-age comedy was based on a group of teens growing up in the early ’60s in Modesto, California. American Graffiti stars Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, and Candy Clark. It was nominated for five Oscars at the 46th Academy Awards and won Best Motion Picture for a Musical or Comedy at the 31st Golden Globe Awards.
Nixon Became The First President To Visit China
In 1972, Richard Nixon became the first president to visit China. It was a huge step in building a relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
Nixon’s decision to visit Beijing shocked many, as the U.S. and communist China had been at odds for decades, and Nixon was vocal about his anti-communist sentiment during the ’40s and ’50s. The visit was a calculated move to contain Vietnam, since the U.S. was still involved in the Vietnam War at the time. China was interested in gaining an ally in its tense relationship with the Soviet Union.
Coney Island Milestone
Coney Island Beach is an iconic entertainment area located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. From 1880 to WWII, it attracted millions of visitors each year and was the largest amusement area in the United States! It began to fall into disrepair in the 1960s although there were efforts to revitalize the area.
This 1975 photo shows a New Jersey resident named Michael Boodley as he finishes a record-setting 1,1,000th ride on the Cyclone roller coaster as friends and family cheer him on. The ride to Mr. Boodley more than 45 hours.
KISS Gets Ready For A Show
The band KISS did their own makeup when they were just starting out, as evidenced by this photo from 1974. Rhythm guitarist and co-lead vocalist Paul Stanley applies red lipstick while guitarist and co-lead singer Peter Criss is working on his eye makeup.
The band debuted in 1973, eventually making a name for themselves throughout the ’70s with their wild stage makeup and costumes. They were also known for their live performances that featured stunts such as fire breathing. The original lineup included “The Starchild” Paul Stanley, “The Demon” Gene Simmons, “Space Ace” Ace Frehley, and “The Catman” Peter Criss.
People Began Working On Computers
This woman is working from an early model of a Servus desktop that was made in the ’70s. This desktop computer looks like bricks compared to the technology available to us today and it’s a wonder how anyone ever got any work done back then.
Computers have been around since the ’50s, but the technology surrounding them started hitting new strides in the ’70s. Groundbreaking hardware and software was on the rise, as well as the development of the personal computer. The most prominent computer companies at the time were Texas Instruments, Xerox, and IBM.
People Celebrated In The Streets When Nixon Quit
Citizens gathered and celebrated outside of the White House on the night of then-President Nixon’s resignation speech on August 8, 1974. The crowds reportedly overflowed into the neighboring streets and far outweighed the number of pro-Nixon supporters who were also there.
Nixon’s announcement came after it was found that he was deeply involved in the Watergate Scandal that happened during his 1972 re-election campaign. When he was found guilty, he was on the verge of impeachment when he decided to step down himself. So far, he is the only president in U.S. history to resign.
Life For Alison Arngrim Was Very Unlike The Prairie
17-year-old Alison Arngrim is pictured here outside her family home in Los Angeles in 1979. At the time, Arngrim was known for her role as mean girl Nellie Oleson on NBC’s Little House on the Prairie, which aired from 1974 to 1981.
Arngrim had previously worked as a child model and actress before she was cast on the show at 12-years-old. Since then, she has acted in television and film. In 2010, she wrote her autobiography titled Confessions of a Prairie [Expletive]: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.
The First Concorde Jet Arrival In America
Air France and British Airways cut travel times in half when they developed their fleet of Concorde jets. This Concorde jet was pictured at a hangar in New York’s JFK Airport after the first supersonic transatlantic flight on October 19, 1977.
The Concorde jets had powerful engines that could reach speeds of up to 1,350 miles per hour. Britain partnered up with France in a race to be the first to develop these supersonic jets. They were up against the United States, who eventually backed out, and Russia, whose first attempts at flight were fatal.
Fuel Shortages Were Caused By The Oil Crisis
In 1973, gas stations often had long lines, like this one in Portland, Oregon. People would try to fill up very early in the morning or they would wait until late at night, but even then there were long lines.
All of this happened as a result of the energy crisis the United States faced during the 1970s. During this era, oil consumption increased as domestic production decreased, leading to a dependence on imported oil. In 1973, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries imposed an oil embargo, leading to sky-high prices and fuel shortages.
People Had To Take Extreme Measures
The oil crisis became so bad that at one point people had a hard time finding places to fuel up. Not only were there long lines at gas stations, oftentimes those gas stations closed early because they ran out of fuel to sell.
Some people even became so desperate, that they’d resort to siphoning gas out of unprotected cars. This father with his son had to take measures into their own hands to prevent their car from the same fate. Other people even resorted to hitchhiking to their day jobs.
Studio 54 Was The Hottest Club Around
Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry were fixtures at New York City’s Studio 54 nightclub during the ’70s. On the right of this photo, you can see that they’re partying the night away with pals Truman Capote and Paloma Picasso.
Located on West 54th Street in Manhattan, the nightclub originally started out as an opera house before it was turned into a studio by CBS. The space was converted into a nightclub in 1977 and was the place to be until it closed its doors in 1980. The IRS raided Studio 54 after they found the owners guilty of embezzlement.
Roller Discos Were The Places To Be
It’s just another typical night pictured here at New York’s Roxy Roller Disco in 1979. The popularity of roller discos were on the rise during the ’70s. People would head to their local roller rink, skating and dancing the night away – typically to disco music.
You could usually only skate in one direction at a time so as to not run into other skaters. But like ice skating rinks, there was usually a spot in the middle for people to “free skate” and show off their slick moves.
Linda Blair Just Being A Kid
It might be hard to tell from this cute photo of a cheerful, smiling teenager, but this is the star of one of the scariest movies in film history! Actress Linda Blair shot to fame playing Regan, the demon-possessed child whose head turned around in circles, in 1973’s The Exorcist.
She was so young when filming the movie that she didn’t understand just how horrifying it was. Blair later said, “I didn’t realize then that it dealt with anything in reality.” This photo was taken in 1975.
Ali MacGraw Was An American “It Girl”
Ali MacGraw had only been in three films when she was voted the top female box office star in the world in 1972. That year she was also given the honor of engraving her footprints and signature at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
She started out in the world of fashion as a model, before she went on to television commercials. MacGraw first gained recognition for 1969’s Goodbye, Columbus. The following year, she starred in Love Story opposite Ryan O’Neal, which really put her on Hollywood’s radar. Throughout the ’70s, MacGraw also starred in The Getaway, Convoy, and Players.
Students Protest Their School’s Investments In South Africa
This photo from 1979 depicts students at Harvard University protesting the Apartheid. The students made anti-apartheid posters urging Harvard to eliminate its investments in South Africa at the time.
The Apartheid became law in South Africa in the ’50s and segregated the majority non-white South Africans from the minority white Africans. By the ’70s the whole world was aware that it had done little for the nation’s prosperity. In 1973, the United Nations General Assembly denounced apartheid and in 1976, the United Nations Security Council imposed a mandatory embargo on the sale of arms to South Africa.
The Runaways Hit The Beach
Based out of Los Angeles, the all-female rock band The Runaways blew up popularity in the mid-to-late ’70s. The band released hits including “Cherry Bomb”, “Hollywood”, and “Queens of Noise” with producer Kim Fowley.
Although they sold out shows and had the great talent of Joan Jett, The Runaways had a short run. The band signed to Mercury Records in 1976 and dissolved in April 1979. Their records and nostalgic photos like this one of the band on the beach in Malibu are all we have left.
Hank Aaron Smashes Babe Ruth’s Record
Babe Ruth held the record for most home runs for 39 years until April 8, 1974. On this fateful day, Hank Aaron bravely stood at the plate and belted his 715th homer, ending Ruth’s streak.
Aaron would keep the title as home run king for many years after that, until a man named Barry Bonds wanted to take it. Bonds ended up surpassing the record in 2007, but he has an asterisk next to his name for reasons we won’t get into.
Cher And Gregg Allman Had A Rocky Marriage
Cher and Gregg Allman were married in 1975. At the time, everyone believed she had rushed into things. The year before, Cher separated from Sonny Bono and had left their show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.
Three days after her divorce from Bono was finalized, Cher fled to Las Vegas with Gregg Allman and got hitched. Though she filed to dissolve the marriage a week later, they eventually reconciled but the marriage was anything but a happy one. Cher couldn’t deal with Allman’s substance abuse issues and when he finally cleaned up, she was too paranoid that he’d fall off the wagon.
Sesame Street Became A Television Sensation For Kids
Here’s a photo taken at a rehearsal for an episode of Sesame Street at New York City’s Reeves TeleTape Studio in 1970. Jim Henson is seen here working Ernie with the help of fellow puppeteer Daniel Seagren. Frank Oz is playing Bert, on the right.
Sesame Street premiered in November 1969 and by the mid-’70s the show was already considered an American institution. TV producer Joan Cooney and Carnegie Foundation Vice President Lloyd Morrisett conceived the show in 1966, wanting to create a show that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them.”
Jimi Hendrix’s Final Performance
Tragedy struck on September 18, 1970, when rock legend Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead. Sadly, Hendrix would become one of several musicians who would pass away at the early age of 27. The curse became known as the “27 Club,” a designation that no one wanted to be a part of.
This image is captured in Fehmarn, Germany on September 6, 1970. One of the most radical and talented instrumentalists of all time, Hendrix is shown playing the strings with his teeth. Little did he, or anyone else know, that would be his final performance.
Grand Opening Of Disney
The grand opening of Disney World in Florida took place on October 1, 1971. The anxious Disney devotees waited anxiously for this day to arrive and it didn’t disappoint them at all.
Here, we see an early version of the famous mouse, holding hands with what appear to be two employees of the park. Today, Disney World serves over 50,000 guests per day. There’s a reason it’s one of the top theme parks on the planet.
The Battle Of The Sexes
Here’s a rare photo of Billy Jean King after defeating Billy Riggs in “The Battle of the Sexes.” This capped off the summer of ’73 for sports in a major way due to the comments surrounding it.
Riggs stated that women’s tennis was inferior, but that wasn’t the case after he lost. King won $100,000 and an endless amount of bragging rights for taking home the victory for not only herself but the gender as well.
The Groovy Burger King
Fast food joints aren’t as colorful and groovy as they once were. Take a look at this Burger King from the ’70s and tell us this isn’t something you wouldn’t mind seeing again.
Now, if you want a Whopper, you have to go to a basic-looking Burger King that isn’t inviting at all. Give us a time machine so we can go take some selfies outside of this retro Burger King, please and thank you.
Before Getting Chastised For Using Smartphones At The Table…
Long before the advent of smartphones, people still had a longing to use the phone. In the ’70s, college students had to wait in long lines to call home if they wanted to talk.
Imagine waiting in a line to call your mom when you miss her while you’re away at school. It almost sounds like prison today, but technology wasn’t that advanced yet so that’s the excuse we’ll go with.
Early Photo Of Madonna!
It’s no secret Madonna didn’t have a problem showing herself to the world, which was one reason why she and Vanilla Ice didn’t last. Here’s an early look at her from ’79.
With the short hair, you can imagine how many other young girls wanted to have this style. Madonna set trends and did so unapologetically, so that’s one reason why many loved her when she was on top of the music world making waves.
Beverly Johnson Makes History
The media has always set the standard for what the masses consume and the narrative that people follow. Vogue came out in 1892, but there was not an African American woman that graced the cover for decades.
That all changed in ’74 when Beverly Johnson had the honors of becoming the first to do it. That’s almost 100 years of disenfranchisement on the behalf of Vogue, but that didn’t stop Johnson from breaking the barrier for future women.
Lynda Carter Out On The Town
Lynda Carter attracted a lot of male fans when she stepped into the role of Wonder Woman. Even though she was scantily clad a few times, she knew it as deeper than that.
“I never really thought of Wonder Woman as a super-racy character,” Carter told the New York Times. “She wasn’t out there being predatory. She was saying: ‘You have a problem with a strong woman? I am who I am, get over it.’”
Arguably the best thing to emerge from New Mexico has to be Microsoft, which was formed there in 1975. Nearly 50 years ago, these two men changed the landscape of technology.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen started things, but would eventually break loose from each other. That didn’t stop the company from ballooning and becoming one of the most profitable companies ever. If you don’t own a Microsoft product, you’ve at least heard of it.
The Miami Dolphins’ Perfect Season
In 1972, the Miami Dolphins had a perfect season. Today, they’re one of only three NFL teams to reach this designation! The 1972 Dolphins went 14–0 in the regular season and won all three postseason games, including Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins. They finished 17–0 for the season.
There was a close call during the Super Bowl, however. Kicker Garo Yepremian lost control when he attempted to throw a forward pass, leading to the Redskins scoring their only point of the game. The final score was 14–7.
We Had To Include Star Wars
This wouldn’t be a ’70s series without including Star Wars. For decades, this space series has caught the attention of millions and created many superfans along the way. Some might say it’s the biggest franchise ever.
Here we see the premiere of the classic film at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. The whole theater looked primed for a release and was ready to cater to all the hyped fans who wanted to see The Force.
The Subway Experience
The subway in New York has always been quite an experience. These passengers braved the ride to get to their destinations. New Yorkers can tell you things have changed since the early ’70s when this was taken, but not all that much.
For one thing, you can expect a lot more entertainers and crazily-dressed individuals today, compared to the ’70s. Also, the cars wouldn’t be this empty during rush hour commutes.
If You Had A Board, Then You Know
Surfing and California are almost synonymous, and this was especially true during the ’70s. It was heavy in the culture, but if you had a board, you needed a special mode of transportation like this right here.
To transport your surfboard, this surfboard truck was the way to go. Even if you didn’t own one, you more than likely knew someone who did and that’s who you would take trips with to the water. Shredding safely for decades now.
Arcades Were All The Rage
If you don’t know this fact, then you’re too young. In the past, pinball was illegal up until the ’70s in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. That’s such a strange ban, isn’t it?
Luckily for these young people, the ban didn’t reach England and they had an amazing arcade to while their afternoons away in. This is The Video Battle Centre, an arcade on the corner of Rupert Street and Brewer Street in London’s Soho, circa 1979.
Jordan Dominating In High School
Michael Jordan played in high school during the late ’70s through 1981. Here he is gliding through the air well before he did so in the NBA and at the college level.
It would appear that he always had the ability to capture the world’s attention with his miraculous moves while airborne. It was only a matter of time before he would become the greatest to ever step foot on a court and inspire numerous generations.
Austin Powers Outtakes?
No, this isn’t an outtake from an Austin Powers movie. This is a regular image from the ’70s showcasing two young ladies wearing the latest fashion trends. Those yellow boots are almost knee-high!
You probably won’t see any styles like this today unless it’s for a fashion show, but some people wouldn’t feel odd sporting trends like this. If you do spot someone dressing like this, that person must be an old soul or have a high sense of fashion.
The Classy Airline Look
These days, you probably won’t that many airlines with classy flight attendants like this. Some might have this vibe, but not all. Sure, they’ll have the same uniform, but it isn’t as presentable as this.
We could get back to this style of attendant uniforms as time goes by, thanks to all the uncertainty in the world, but for the moment, we can appreciate this flashback look at the movement.
Arthur Ashe Makes History
The only black man to win the Wimbledon Cup is Arthur Ashe. This phenomenal talent made strides for people of color in a predominately white sport and did so with confidence and grace.
After securing the Wimbledon win, he added two more grand slam titles to his resume. After he died in 1993, The Arthur Ashe Endowment for the Defeat of AIDS came about to honor his name and legacy.
Nixon Meets Elvis
Two icons of the decade, Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon, meet at the White House in this 1970 image. It wasn’t a simple meeting either, these two discussed important plans regarding young people.
Their meeting went over the American youth’s proclivity for illegal substances. Ironically, that was an issue that would contribute to the death of the music star later that decade. At least he tried to help the young ones while he was still alive.
Playmate Of The Year 1978
Debra Jo Fondren had hair like Rapunzel and became the Playmate of the Year in 1978. She was versed in rollerblading and would roll around with her hair flowing through the air.
There was one stipulation with her Playboy contract. It stated that she could never cut her hair! Since it was so long and flowing, that is a great way to get more attention, so that’s a pretty solid contract negotiation to throw in the contract.
Saturday Night Live Hit The Airwaves
Now a staple of weekend television, Saturday Night Live first hit the airwaves on October 11, 1975. Lorne Michaels created the late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show that’s been launching comedy careers ever since.
Pictured in this 1975 photo is a scene from “The Coneheads,” one of the show’s most popular skits. Jane Curtin, left, Dan Aykroyd, and Laraine Newman starred in the hilarious recurring sketch which later got its own movie.
1976 Visit From The Queen Of England
Queen Elizabeth II visited the United States twice during the 1970s. This photo was taken during the first of those two visits. It was shortly after the 200th anniversary of America’s declaration of independence from Britain, and the Queen visited to celebrate the friendships between the two countries.
At a state dinner, she danced with President Gerald Ford. During their dance, Ford assured Queen Elizabeth that “the United States [has] never forgotten its British heritage.
Fleetwood Mac, 1975
The British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac was formed in 1967 and became one of the most popular and influential musical groups of the ’70s. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined in 1974, and the group shot to international fame with their 1975 self-titled album, Fleetwood Mac, It quickly reached No. 1 in the United States.
In this 1975 portrait, we see the whole group together. From left to right are John McVie, Christine McVie, Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and Buckingham.
The Beatles Disbanded
On April 10, 1970, fans of the international supergroup The Beatles were dismayed to hear from Paul McCartney that the band was calling it quits in a series of statements he released to the press. When asked for the reason behind the split and whether it was permanent or just temporary, McCartney had this to say:
“Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know.”
The Crew Of Apollo 13
The seventh crewed mission of the Apollo space program, Apollo 13 was the third that was intended to land on the moon. Launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970, an oxygen tank failure forced the lunar landing to be aborted.
Instead, the module looped around the moon and returned safely back to Earth on April 17. The original crew is pictured here in a 1970 portrait. From left to right: Jim Lovell, Ken Mattingly (who was replaced by Jack Swigart for the mission), and Fred Haise.
An American World Chess Champion
In 1972, American Bobby Fisher defeated Russian Bobby Spassky to become the World Chess Champion. His victory ended a Soviet win streak that dated all the way back to 1948.
Held in Reykjavik, Iceland, the event was nicknamed “the Match of the Century” and the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov proclaimed Fischer’s win as “a crushing moment in the midst of the Cold War.” In this photo, Spassky is on the left and Fisher is on the right.
The Birth Of The Godfather Film Franchise
Now an icon, the first installment in The Godfather trilogy was released in 1972. The Francis Ford Coppola-directed film was co-written by Mario Puzo, who wrote the best-selling 1969 novel of the same name.
The Godfather was the highest-grossing film of 1972 and received worldwide acclaim from critics and audiences alike. The film won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and received seven other nominations at the 45th Academy Awards.