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10 Simple Photographs with Mind-Blowing Backstories

6. This ordinary looking photo of the scenery is the most expensive photograph ever sold. It was auctioned for a whopping $4.3 million!

Rhein II
Rhein II. Image Credit: Wikipedia

The above photo, known as Rhein II, was part of a set of six photos depicting the Rhine River. It depicts the Lower Rhine river flowing horizontally between green, flat fields across the point of view and under a cloudy sky.

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The photograph was created by Andreas Gursky, a German visual artist. He created the photo in 1999. It would come as a surprise that this photo originally had dog walkers and a factory building in between. But the artist removed all of that using digital editing. The photograph was auctioned in 2011 for $4.3 million making it the most expensive photograph to have ever been sold. (source)

7. This is not just a picture of a building in an awkward position but a moving, 7,600-ton apartment building. The building was moved to create a boulevard in a Romanian town in 1987 while the residents were still inside!

Building being moved
A network of hydraulic jacks being placed under the building framework to elevate the structure and move it off the foundation. Image Credit: Alba lulia

At the time of the Communist Era in Romania, there was a trend of building massive, Soviet-style apartments. A lot of these buildings were built up around the cities. So, when the construction of a huge boulevard was underway in the city of Alba, these buildings posed an issue.

Building split into two
The building was split into two and the pieces were moved separately with residents still inside. Image Credit: Alba lulia

A building came in way of the construction. Tearing it down and building it from scratch would cost a lot, so the authorities decided to just split the building into two and move it somewhere else. To move the building, the authorities dug below it. They then laid out railway lines and wheels. The building was moved with the help of these railway lines about 55 meters (180 ft) away.

Here it can be seen that one part of the building has been removed. Image Credit: Alba lulia

It took five hours and 40 minutes to move the two parts of the building. The intriguing factor was that while all this was happening, residents were inside the building and going about their normal lives. It is said that a woman put a glass of water on the edge of her balcony and not a single drop was spilled. (source)

8. This looks like a room with chairs. But in reality, this is a photo capturing the insides of an airplane of the 1930s!

First class air travel of the 1930s
First class air travel of the 1930s. Image Credit: Air India

When one thinks about the early airplanes, the Wright Brothers’ landmark flights come to mind. But these aircraft were nothing like the flights that used to fly passengers to Hawaii in the 1900s. Yes, the picture above belonged to one such aircraft of the 1930s.

Known as “flying boats,” these aircraft were used to carry rich passengers to Hawaii. They had the ability to land on water only. These flights started in the early 1900s, and by the 1920s, inter-island flights became the only means to see the islands.

Air travel
First class air travel of the 1930s. Image Credit: Air India

In 1920, the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company had the largest inter-island shipping fleet in Hawaii. They launched the first Hawaiin airline, which outlived the shipping era and later grew into Hawaiian Airlines. Their first plane was a Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker and included a six-seat aircraft that was used for sightseeing tours.

Later, many such flying boats started flying passengers in Hawaii. They had the capacity to seat eight to nine passengers. Comfort was completely dependable on the wind. Some days, the cabin would swing like a pendulum due to gusty winds. (source)

9. Below are the McDonald brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald, standing in front of the first McDonald’s which was yet to open. The photo was shot on November 1948 at San Bernardino, California.

McDonald brothers
Maurice and Richard McDonald in front of the not yet opened first McDonald’s. Image Credit: YouTube

In 1937, Patrick McDonald started a hamburger food stand by the name of “The Airdrome.” He sold hamburgers for just ten cents. Three years later, his two sons, Maurice and Richard McDonald, shifted the entire building to San Bernardino, California. They renamed the restaurant “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q,” and the menu comprised of twenty-five barbecued items.

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As 1948 drew to a close, the brothers realized that most of their sales came from hamburgers, so they decided to close the drive-in and establish a simple menu that comprised of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, shakes, soft drinks, and apple pie. They went ahead to create a self-service type of dining. To increase the efficiency of serving, they designed their kitchen like an assembly line. This time, they named the restaurant “McDonald’s.”

The photo above was taken at the site of the new restaurant being built. The first McDonald’s opened on December 12, 1948. (1, 2)

10. On March 31, 1848, Niagara Falls ran dry and stopped flowing. The reason was an ice jam at the mouth of the river that prevented the water from reaching the falls. The photo show people walking in the areas where earlier no men or women had ever gone.

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls stopped flowing for one day in 1848. Image Credit: Flickr

By 1848, Niagara Falls had become an indispensable part of the residents living in the nearby areas. Waterwheels were used to harness the water’s power to run mills and operate machinery in factories.

On the night of March 29, 1848, a farmer was out for a stroll when he noticed something missing. It was the thundering sound of the waterfall.  When he went to check, he hardly saw any water on the river’s edge. The next morning, on March 30, 1848, people woke up to a deafening silence. Niagara Falls had dried up! The waterwheels stopped working, and the people had no other means to run their factories.

People were genuinely scared. They thought that the end of the world was near. Prayers were organized to return the falls to its original state. It was only later that people learned that strong, southwest, gale winds were responsible for the falls going dry. The powerful winds had pushed large chunks of ice to the tip of Lake Erie. This, in turn, blocked the water from the lake reaching the Niagara River. Basically, the ice jam became a huge ice dam.

The photo above was taken on that day. People were walking all over the river and gathering old guns, bayonets, and ancient weapons as souvenirs. (1, 2)

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