15 Beautiful Vintage Photos of Famous U.S. Tourist Attractions

These historic sites will never get old.

black and white photo of the hollywood sign in the 1950s
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There are some landmarks and attractions that will never go out of style. Disneyland will always be magical, just as millions of people will continue to tune into the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade until the end of time. But, if you've ever wondered what America's prized celebrations and historic sites looked like in the past, then browse through these vintage travel photos that will teleport you to the golden age of tourism. And for more stunning landscapes, check out the 27 Totally Insane Travel Photos You Won't Believe Are Real.

1
Disneyland

monorail at disneyland in 1960
M&N / Alamy

When Disneyland opened its doors in 1955, Anaheim, California, became one of the happiest places on Earth. This photo of the monorail linking downtown Disney to the park was taken in 1960, at a time when it was the only daily shuttle of its kind in America. And for more fun from the House of Mouse, check out the 19 Magical Places That Inspired Disney.

2
Washington Monument

four people look at the washington monument in the 1930s
National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy

In this vivid photo, taken in 1935, a group of tourists admires the Washington Monument through the colorful haze of a rainbow.

3
Santa Catalina Island

three women walk on santa catalina island in 1942
National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy

Santa Catalina Island, or Catalina as locals call it, is just a short ferry ride from Long Beach, California. Seen here in 1942, the island boasts stunning Spanish architecture abutting the seascape. One of the island's most prominent fixtures is the former mansion of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr.

4
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

black and white photo of macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1940
Everett Collection Inc / Alamy

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a holiday tradition since 1924. Whether lining the streets of New York City to see the festivities—like these parade-goers in Times Square in 1940—or watching the celebration on television, the excitement for the giant balloons and marching bands hasn't dulled one bit.

5
Chinatown

cars line the streets of Chinatown in San Francisco in 1957
Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy

This colorful 1957 snapshot of Grant Avenue in San Francisco's Chinatown shows a vibrant, thriving, cultural community. Its inception in 1848 makes it the oldest Chinatown in North America, and the neighborhood has even been known to draw more annual visitors than the Golden Gate Bridge.

6
Honolulu Hula Show

hula dancers in 1966
Michele and Tom Grimm / Alamy

The Kodak Hula Show on Honolulu (seen here in a photograph from 1966) was a popular attraction in Hawaii's capital city. Established in 1937, this legendary show had become an island tradition and was attended by an estimated 10 million viewers during its run, which ended in 2002. However, Honolulu and hula continue to remain intimately entwined, with the Kuhio Beach Hula performance picking up where the Kodak Hula Show left off.

7
Hollywood Sign

ClassicStock / Alamy

Originally erected in 1923 as a means of advertising, Los Angeles' iconic sign actually read "Hollywoodland" and was expected to be on display for less than two years but stood for 26! In 1949, when the display was refurbished, the "land" portion was dropped entirely. The photograph above was taken in the 1950s, just after the change. And for more historic snapshots, check out the 50 Vintage Photos That Show What Traveling Used to Look Like.

8
Coney Island

two young women sit on swings overlooking coney island
Everett Collection Historical / Alamy

Coney Island was at one time the country's largest amusement park. It was comprised of Luna Park, Steeplechase, and Dreamland, a boardwalk with its own beachfront activities. Attracting several millions of visitors each year, the fair was often crowded beyond belief with New Yorkers looking to beat the heat. See it for yourself with this photo taken in 1950 from the Parachute Jump ride.

9
Las Vegas

casino lights in las vegas in the 1960s
That Hartford Guy / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The original Las Vegas strip was actually Fremont Street, as seen here in the 1960s. As the first paved road in the city, it's as old as Vegas itself. Today, the entertainment district remains the home of mainstays such as the Golden Nugget, Binion's Horseshoe, and the oldest casino in Vegas: Golden Gate Casino, which first opened as a hotel in 1906.

10
New York World's Fair

black and white photo of tourists at the world's fair in new york
ClassicStock / Alamy

The 1964 New York World's Fair attracted over 51 millions visitors to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park during its year-long run. Representing 80 nations and featuring 100 restaurants and pavilions, it was a source of excitement and cultural exploration for attendees. The grand Unisphere remains in the park today, a shining memory of an event that championed peace and innovation just before the Vietnam War.

11
Mount Rushmore

mount rushmore in the 1960s
ClassicStock / Alamy

There's nothing more patriotic than presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt carved into the side of Mount Rushmore. Also referred to as the Shrine of Democracy, the stone sculptures attract more than two million tourists each year, as evidenced in this packed parking lot in 1969. Also, did you know there's a hidden room behind Lincoln's head? Take a peek along with these 23 Super Secret Spaces Hidden in Famous Landmarks.

12
Mardi Gras

a crowd of people in costumes parade down the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras in 1917
Public Domain

Hundreds of thousands of revelers descend on New Orleans each year for Mardi Gras, one of the country's largest celebrations. This already vibrant city becomes even more electric with parades, extravagant floats, costumes, live music, and crowds of partygoers. The earliest recorded Mardi Gras in New Orleans dates all the way back to 1699, and the photograph above, of costumed attendees on Canal Street, offers a glimpse of what Mardi Gras had to offer in 1917. 

13
Niagara Falls

black and white photo of niagara falls in 1954
Public Domain

The majestic beauty of Niagara Falls is timeless, as proven by this 1954 image of the cascades taken from Niagara Parkway in Canada. The waterfall drops a whopping 160 feet into the basin—a sight that is no less breathtaking today.

14
Pike Place Market

pike place market in seattle in 1972
Seattle Municipal Archives / CC BY 2.0

Although the iconic Space Needle (another World's Fair creation) may be the first landmark to come to mind when you think of Seattle, the city is home to yet another popular attraction: Pike Place Market. Established in 1907, Pike Place is one of the country's oldest and longest running farmers' markets. This picture offers a glimpse of the spot in 1972, shortly before a major rehabilitation.

15
The Little Switzerland of America

a teal car drives on a mountainside road in 1960
Lenscap / Alamy

Surrounded by Colorado's piercing San Juan Mountains, the city of Ouray has earned the nickname, "The Little Switzerland of America." Ouray was originally settled by miners and incorporated in 1876, but it became a prime attraction in the 1960s (as seen in this photo). Today, the economy is based on tourism, with a main street that is protected under the National Register of Historic Places. And for more backyard adventures, check out the 17 American Towns So Beautiful You'll Think You're in Europe.

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