59 Amazing Photos Showing Life in the 1850s

Drinking and cards, late 1850s
Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (front row, center-right) and others observe the SS Great Eastern launch attempt in Blackwall, London, November 1857. It was a massive steamship, the largest ship ever built when it launched
Faruk Khan, vice premier to the court of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, and the Persian ambassador to French emperor Napoleon III, and Queen Victoria, circa 1857
Former President Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States, posing in photographer Mathew Brady’s New York portrait studio, circa 1855-1858
Group portrait of a man, woman, and boy, with Niagara Falls in the background, 1855
Horses and carts surround a busy Quincy Public Market in downtown Boston, 1857
Jerusalem, Site of the Temple on Mount Moriah, and Jerusalem, Court of the Mosque of Omar, 1857
Men at work beside the launching chains of the Great Eastern while under construction at London’s Millwall Iron Works on the River Thames, November 18, 1857
Morlaix – Le quai de Tréguier, 1857
Napoleon III, emperor of France, 1857
Paris looking back toward the Ile de la Cité from across the Seine, circa 1857
Peter Force, American editor, publisher, and historian, served as the 12th mayor of Washington, D.C., from 1836 to 1840, circa 1857
Pierre Clément Eugène Pelletan, a French writer, journalist, and passionate critic, circa 1855-1859
Portrait of a girl in the Netherlands, circa 1855
Portrait of newlyweds Dorman and Eliza Egbert Cortright, Battle Creek, Michigan, 1850
Portrait of the Baroness of Séverac, 1856-1859
Queen Victoria’s visit to the Manchester Exhibition of Art Treasures of the United Kingdom in Manchester, England, June 1857
Samuel Morse, the American artist and inventor, standing in a studio with an automatic telegraph receiver, which would record incoming morse-code messages onto paper, 1857
San Francisco and the harbor from Stockton Street, containing the portions between Washington and Sacramento Streets, 1856
Seascape with a ship leaving port in Sète, France, 1857
St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) from the Hypodrome, Constantinople, Turkey, in 1857.
The Chattar Manzil palace wall in Lucknow, India, which was destroyed by mutineers during the Indian Rebellion of 1857
The earliest surviving photo of Japanese feudal lord, Shimazu Nariakira, dressed formally, September 17, 1857
The French-English fleet in the harbor of Cherbourg-Cotentin, France, August 1858
The inauguration of President James Buchanan, at the east front of the United States Capitol Building, March 4, 1857
The Parker House Hotel, late 1850s
The Pyramids of Dahshoor from the east, 1857
The River Seine in Paris, from the Square du Vert-Galant, a park at the tip of the Ile de la Cité, 1857
The Sphinx, built during the Egyptian Fourth Dynasty, stands in the desert with the Pyramid Cheops nearby in Giza, 1857
The U.S. Capitol Building dome under construction, looking south from the roof of the Senate wing, showing the first row of columns near completion and the cast-irons pillars up, 1857
Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, an Italian aristocrat who achieved notoriety as a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France, 1857
Young gentleman of the 1850s
A group of Gurkha soldiers with their British officer, during the Indian Mutiny or Great Sepoy Rebellion, 1857
A portrait of two women gleaners in rural England, 1857
Abraham Lincoln, immediately prior to his Senate nomination in Chicago, Illinois, February 28, 1857
An abbot accompanies students visiting the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy, 1857
Barrack Hill, Ottawa, during the construction of the Parliament Buildings, 1857
Battery Street in San Francisco, California, 1856
Boston and a busy Boston Harbor looking north from the State House dome in 1858
Brant Point Light Station, on Nantucket Harbor, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in the 1850s
Camp de Châlons; The Zouave storyteller, Chalons, France, 1857
Canadian man posing in front of his house, 1855
Cathedral, Baltimore, Maryland, 1856
Cloud study over Paris, 1850s
Construction workers build a new jail in St. Paul, Minnesota, 1857
Hippo Obaysch is spotted taking a nap in the Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park, 1852. He was donated by Egypt in 1850 in exchange for English greyhounds and deerhounds, and he lived until 1878
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s roundhouse at Martinsburg, West Virginia in June 1858.
Family Portrait, 1850s
Three Young Women, 1856
A Beautiful Bride, 1850
Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, Paris, France, 1850s
Family group at church, England, 1854
Mary Le Port Street, Bristol, England, 1854
Officers of the 4th Light Dragoons, England, 1855
UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 30: Photograph. There were various forms of ‘pedamotive carriage’ or velocipede during the 19th century. It was an early form of bicycle which was propelled forward by the rider pedalling cranks fixed to the front wheel(s). Interest in velocipedes dropped after the introduction of the bicycle in the form we know it today, which was both cheaper and less cumbersome.
Bombay, India, 1850
Toronto, Canada, 1856
Chouteau’s Pond, St. Louis, Missouri, 1854
American Falls from below prospect point, Niagara, 1850

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