Badass Historical Photos That Made Us Say ‘Whoa’

List Rules
Vote up the coolest images of the past.

It's easy to idealize the past, and venerate the people who live through it as larger than life. However, there are times when that veneration is warranted. Take Maria Spelterini, for example: the first and only woman to walk a tightrope over Niagara gorge (several times, once blindfolded and once wearing peach baskets on her feet). What's especially cool about Spelterini is that we have the 1876 photograph to prove her derring do.

There are many badass photos from history showcasing courageous women, WWII soldiers, and even non-human companions. Included below is selection of the most badass historical photos; vote up the ones that really make you say, "Whoa!"


  • 1. An English Steeplejack Working Without Any Apparent Safety Harness (c. 1960)

    100 votes
  • 2. Riley The Golden Retriever Assisting With Search And Rescue After 9/11 (2001)

    Riley The Golden Retriever Assisting With Search And Rescue After 9/11 (2001)
    Photo: Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    224 votes
  • 3. US Troops Arriving On Omaha Beach On D-Day (1944)

    US Troops Arriving On Omaha Beach On D-Day (1944)
    Photo: Chief Photographer's Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent/National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    178 votes
  • 4. Maria Spelterini, The Only Woman To Cross Niagara Gorge On A Tightrope (1876)

    Maria Spelterini, The Only Woman To Cross Niagara Gorge On A Tightrope (1876)
    Photo: George E. Curtis / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    162 votes
  • 5. The Anonymous 'Tank Man' Blocking A Column Of Tanks During The Tiananmen Square Protests (1989)

    The Anonymous 'Tank Man' Blocking A Column Of Tanks During The Tiananmen Square Protests (1989)
    Photo: Jeff Widener / Wikipedia / Fair Use
    147 votes
  • 6. A Former Slave Holding The Horn With Which Slaves Were Called (1939)

    A Former Slave Holding The Horn With Which Slaves Were Called (1939)
    Photo: Russell Lee (colorized by Julius Jääskeläinen) / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
    146 votes