Time can play tricks on us when we least expect it. We know the facts about important moments in world history, or the lives and deeds of our favorite leaders and heroes from the past, but sometimes, we don’t realize what else was going on at the exact same time. These historical photos are giving us a new perspective — and we’re having trouble wrapping our heads around it.
1. Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank Were Born In The Same Year
When it comes to legendary figures who represent some of the most defining moments of the 20th century, here are two who the world will never forget. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank were incalculably influential inspirations, and today their stories are taught in schools the world over.
King was a fiercely outspoken proponent of nonviolence in the American civil rights movement, while Frank was a powerful voice of hope robbed of her potential by the Holocaust. Both of these visionaries had their lives tragically cut short, and were they alive today, they would be the same age, as they were both born in 1929.
2. 10th President John Tyler’s Grandkids Are Still Alive
When we think of the founding fathers of America, we see them as legends of centuries past, far removed from our day and age. One would think that John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States, would fit that mold pretty well — except for the fact that two of his grandchildren are still alive. Yes, that’s right: even though Tyler was born in 1790, two of his grandkids are still well and thriving.
So how is this even possible? Tyler had a family rather late in life, and the practice didn’t stop with him. Tyler was 63 when his son Lyon was born in 1853, and Lyon was in his 70s when his two children were born in the 1920s. Those two children, Lyon Jr. and Harrison Tyler, are still around today.
3. Michael Jordan Was Drafted To The NBA The Same Year LeBron James Was Born
When LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003, people called him “The Chosen One”, and later “The King”. He was the first pick straight out of high school in the 2003 draft, and although people were already eagerly awaiting great things from him, he surpassed their expectations with his consistent dominance in the league.
Moreover, everyone compared him to Michael Jordan, most notably because James decided to make his jersey number 23, just like Mike. James had obviously always looked up to Jordan, and learned a lot from him. But considering how often people the two players are pinned up against one another, here’s an even wilder coincidence: Michael Jordan was drafted the same year LeBron James was born.
4. Oxford University Existed Before The Aztec Empire
Oxford University, the iconic educational institution that still stands today for worthy pupils to roam its halls, has been around for a seriously long time. This legendary school has been a staple of academia for so long, in fact, that even the Aztec Empire in Mexico rose after its founding. But what’s even crazier is that the margin between them is not even close.
The Aztec Empire was at its heyday for the majority of the 15th century, until they were conquered and destroyed by Hernán Cortés and the Spanish conquistadors in 1521. Over in England, simultaneously, Oxford University had already been around for hundreds of years. While the exact date of its construction and opening isn’t known, there are records of teaching going back all the way to the year 1096.
5. George Washington Lived Too Early To Know About Dinosaurs
Founding father and first U.S. president George Washington is practically a dinosaur in his own right, albeit a heroic and legendary one. But this little oddity of a historical fact illustrates the scope of exactly how many scientific advancements have happened since his era. Consider this: the man on the one-dollar bill never knew that dinosaurs existed. But you can’t blame him.
This is because scientists only truly discovered the concept of dinosaurs in 1824, when William Buckland first announced the majestic Megalosaurus to the world. Indeed, those fascinating little dinosaur fossils weren’t known during Washington’s time period, as he had died in 1799, two years after finishing office.
6. Nintendo Was Around When Jack The Ripper Was Alive
Depending on when you were born, you were either introduced to the wonderful video game world of Nintendo in the ’80s, ’90s, or even the 2000s — but the point is, you know this world and have experienced it. As the years have gone by, young gamers have certainly appreciated the lengths to which the shine in Mario’s mustache has taken form.
But regardless of where you were when you first killed a few mushrooms by jumping on them, take note of the fact that Nintendo was technically founded all the way back in 1889. At the time, the company was making a card game called Hanafuda. To add a bit of eerie context, infamous criminal Jack The Ripper was striking terror in the hearts of Londoners at the same time.
NEXT: These next odd historical facts are incredible — and devastating.
7. Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe Were Born In The Same Year
Queen Elizabeth II represents the purity of tradition, as well as a woman who, while constantly in the public eye, is rather private. On the other hand, Marilyn Monroe was a woman who flaunted herself before the cameras. Both of these icons are instantly recognizable to the greater public. And yet it’s crazy to think that the pair of them were actually born in the same year.
When Monroe tragically passed away in 1962, her youthful image was frozen in time for the rest of eternity. To the rest of us, she would always be that glamorous Hollywood starlet who changed show business. But the Queen, on the other hand, has grown into a great-grandmother, the matriarchal monarch for generations. It’s wild to think that if Marilyn were alive, they’d be the same age.
8. The Fax Machine Was Invented The Same Year The Oregon Trail Was Discovered
When we think about a device as mundane as the fax machine, it’s hard to imagine the Great Migration having anything to do with it. Here’s the background: when the American West was still being mapped and explored by settlers from the east, one acre of land at a time, different routes were frequented by these new arrivals who rolled through in their wagons. The most famous of these was the Oregon Trail.
These migrations were taking place in 1843, the same year that Scottish inventor Alexander Bain invented the fax machine, or the “electric printing telegraph” as he had originally dubbed it. Obviously it was nothing like the fax machines we use today (do people even fax anymore?), but nevertheless it’s crazy to think that such a modern-day item would have been present back then.
9. Princess Diana And Mother Teresa Died Just Five Days Apart
When we think of the world-famous nun Mother Teresa and the extremely long life she lived, it’s strange to consider that she actually died only five days after Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana was obviously a lot younger at the time, and her passing in a car crash in Paris was utterly unexpected and tragic.
Mother Teresa, on the other hand, had already lived an extremely long life of 87 years — so when she left this world, it came as far less of a shock. These two iconic philanthropists both meant so much to their fans, and yet they came from two completely different eras. Therefore, it’s bizarre to see their stories ending so close to one another.
10. The Civil War Was Still Going On When London Unveiled Its First Subway
The civil engineers of early 19th century London were certainly ahead of their time. Impressively, they constructed the blueprints for London’s first underground line way back in the 1830s — and were able to roll out a finished product 30 years later, on January 10, 1863. Those who know their history know that the American Civil War was still raging precisely at that time — and the Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect just one week before.
The reason this feels strange is because not only are underground railway systems considered the height of modernity; they’re used daily by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Contrast that with the heroic yet gruesome tales of the Civil War, and something just feels bizarrely off.
NEXT: From pop stars to drive-thru’s, buckle your seatbelts while we cover all the strangest time lapses in history.
11. NASA Explored Space Before Continental Drift Was Accepted
There are some scientific facts that are a part of our collective knowledge today, yet we take them for granted without realizing how long it took for scientists to discover them. On the subject of geology, and how plate tectonics work, the theory of continental drift is now widely accepted and taught in schools.
However, you may be surprised to learn that it was not until 1967 that scientists gave in to German researcher Alfred Wegener’s continental drift theory, which he’d proposed more than half a century before, back in 1912. Just to further illustrate how long it took the geologists to get their declarations in order, NASA and the Soviet Union had both already managed to explore space by the point.
12. Jim Morrison And Robert DeNiro Were Born In The Same Year
When lead singer and poet Jim Morrison crooned and roared onto the scene, to his mesmerized fans he appeared to be larger than life. As the frontman of the psychedelic rock band The Doors, he catapulted into legend status in the late 1960s before his untimely death at 27 in 1971. Jim Morrison remains frozen in time, but another legend’s star was just rising.
Oscar-winning A-list actor Robert DeNiro was born the exact same year as Jim Morrison, and is now 76 years old. It’s hard to imagine what Morrison would have looked like if he was alive today — let alone the musical revelations he could have created — but it certainly makes us wonder.
13. Harvard Was Founded Before Calculus Was Invented
Imagine receiving your acceptance letter to Harvard University, one of the most prestigious and revered schools in the world, only to find out that they don’t actually teach calculus. Such was the case for the first students at Harvard back in Puritan times. However, we hardly think the administration is to blame, considering calculus in general hadn’t been invented yet.
In fact, the system of calculus as we know it today was created back in the 17th century by the great minds of Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, publishing their work separately but around the same time. Nevertheless, this took place after 1636, the year that Harvard started teaching young students.
14. The Last Harry Potter Book Came Out The Same Year As The First iPhone
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was so iconic that young children are still reading it, and young adults are still re-reading them over and over again. The fandom hasn’t died down in the slightest, and for this reason, it’s easy to forget that the seventh and last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, actually came out all the way back in 2007.
In the very same year, the first iPhone was released, and the world has not been the same. When you think about how far the iPhone (and smartphones in general) have come through technological advancements throughout the last 13 years, it seems shocking that The Boy Who Lived ended his story with us so long ago.
15. The Ottoman Empire Existed When The Chicago Cubs Won Their Second To Last World Series
Some sports fans don’t realize how long the game of baseball has been played. In fact, the second to last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, the Ottoman Empire still existed! The game took place back in 1908, decades before the infamous Curse of the Billy Goat condemned the Cubs to 71 more years without winning another title.
Far across the globe, the Ottoman Empire had been around for centuries, slowly decaying over the 19th century, and they were about to disintegrate after World War I, leaving behind the new nation of Turkey. The fact that such an empire, whose name belongs only to textbooks, still existed while Major League Baseball was underway, boggles our mind for sure.
NEXT: We hadn’t realized these incredible events in history took place so close to one another.
16. The Roman Colosseum Was Built Before The Gospel Of Luke Was Written
When we think of the New Testament, or biblical history in general, it’s hard to truly identify with what accoutrements were around back then. We’re talking about landmark events that took place thousands of years ago. But it’s important to remember the context of the Roman Empire within which Christianity came to rise.
The Gospel of Luke was known to have been written somewhere from 80 CE to 110 CE, along with the Acts of the Apostles, making it a two-part masterpiece. And yet, the wondrous Colosseum which can be visited in Rome today was built from 70 CE to 80 CE, beforehand. Considering how easy it is to walk around it and marvel at its majestic halls, it’s impressive to think that it’s been around that long.
17. Charlie Chaplin Died The Same Year Apple Was Incorporated
Charlie Chaplin made a name for himself as an actor and shrewd director during the era of silent film, rising to become one of the most legendary entertainers ever. His comedy style was unprecedented, and his influence can be keenly felt to this day. However, the entertainment industry still had a long way to go.
In 1977, around half a century after Chaplin’s prime, Apple Computers was incorporated officially, led by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. In that very same year, Chaplin died at the age of 88. It just goes to show how quickly the world was moving even back then — although compared to today’s speedy information era, that seems like child’s play.
18. The Palace Of The Governors Already Existed When The Pilgrims Reached America
When people think back to what they learned about American history, they are often directed to the Pilgrims settling at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts as a founding event. But there’s a bit missing from that story. When they sailed there from England in 1620, there was actually an entire colony of Spanish explorers who had been living in America for nearly 100 years.
These explorers had been living in Santa Fe, present-day New Mexico, where they began a thriving culture, even building the Palace of the Governors, which stands to this day. It sure adds a new perspective to American country singer Woody Guthrie’s lyrics of “This land is your land, this land is my land.”
19. Picasso Died The Same Year Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Came Out
It may seem strange that artist Pablo Picasso and rock band Pink Floyd are linked together here, and yet the truth is they were a lot more similar than people might think. They were both legendary artists with wildly eccentric and unconventional styles, and they both influenced their industries on a profound level.
But the reason people would never think of them in the same breath is because Picasso came from a different era, thriving in the early 20th century, whereas Pink Floyd came into prominence in the 1970s. However, they weren’t as far away from each other as people might think: Picasso lived to the ripe old age of 91, passing away the same year that Pink Floyd’s iconic Dark Side of the Moon album was released.
20. Swiss Women Were Allowed To Vote When The U.S. Drove On The Moon
While the world has progressed dramatically in the last century, certain countries moved forward at different paces than others. When it comes to the fundamental topic of women’s rights and inclusion, Switzerland is surprising. Normally considered very progressive, in fact, it took the country up until 1971 before their women were even allowed to vote for a leader.
By that point, American women had long since received that right. What’s more, in that very same year, NASA had even driven a buggy on the moon. This made Switzerland one of the last countries on the planet to grant its women suffrage.
21. The Brooklyn Bridge Was Getting Built Throughout The Battle Of Little Bighorn
Here’s a bizarre scenario where we have something modern and relatable alongside something so very antiquated and seemingly far removed from our reality. Everyone in New York knows the Brooklyn Bridge, and some perhaps drive on it every single day. It’s a piece of historical architecture that also lends itself to everyday life in this metropolis.
However, the Brooklyn Bridge might be in use, but it is far from new. In fact, it was getting built at the same time that the Battle of Little Bighorn took place. This historic battle took place in in present-day Montana in 1876. The U.S. Army (led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer) were defeated by warriors from the Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, and Lakota nations.
22. Woolly Mammoths Were Alive When The Pyramids Were Built
Scientists gave the world a shock when they discovered that woolly mammoths had still been walking around the Earth until approximately 1650 BCE. According to them, their last populations were located on an island near the coast of Eastern Russia. However, even as their species died out, the human species was making an incredible achievement.
It turns out that one of the Great Pyramids of Egypt was actually being built around then as well. In fact, the Pyramid of Djoser, considered to be the oldest, was built between 2630 BCE and 2611 BCE — meaning that those mammoths were still lumbering about on a different corner of the planet.
23. The Eiffel Tower Was Inaugurated The Same Year ‘Starry Night’ Was Painted
This side-by-side entry is a bit of a strange one, depending on your perception of art and architecture. Given how recognizable it is and how central it is to our understanding of modern art, those who have only a modest grasp on art history might have thought that “Starry Night” was painted at least several centuries ago.
On the flip side, those who don’t know much about architecture might be surprised that the Eiffel Tower has only been around since the late 19th century. Nevertheless, both Vincent Van Gogh’s painting and Gustave Eiffel’s tower were both historic masterpieces in the world of arts and culture, and for some reason it seems odd to think they were both finished in the very same year, 1889.
24. McDonald’s Was Open Before The First Prisoners Were Sent To Auschwitz
When we think of McDonald’s, we think of a late-night food run when all we’re craving is a stack of toasty fries. We think of the simple pleasure of a mass-produced burger giving us all we desire, regardless of how it may be affecting our health. All in all, we’re thinking about satisfying our hunger in the quickest and most efficient way possible.
Contrast that with one of the most horrific events in history, the Holocaust. Now, let it dawn on you that McDonald’s was actually open during this time. Indeed, the first McDonald’s fast food chain was opened in 1940, just five days before the first slave laborers were deported to the most notorious factory of death and destruction in human history.
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