The Most Iconic Photos of American Presidents Taken in the Last Century

Practically every move a president makes is documented in one way or another. Hours of video footage are and thousands of photographs are produced throughout a president’s time in the White House. Some of the photos taken become iconic. We’ve rounded up some of those photographs from the last 100 years. See the most iconic photographs from the last century, ahead.

5 living presidents

5 Linving presidents of USA

The photo was taken in 2009. | Saul Loeb/Getty Images

This photo taken of George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush on Jan. 7, 2009, is the first time all living presidents have been together at the White House since 1981, according to the U.S. News & World Report.

Hint: A snapshot from the Situation Room went global.

Raid on bin Laden

President Obama Announces Death of Osama Bin Laden

It was a critical moment. | The White House/Getty Images

White House photographer, Pete Souza, snapped this picture in the Situation Room during the raid on Osama bin Laden while Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and members of the national security team, watched. The day of the raid was “the most important single day of my presidency,” Barack Obama said, according to Time magazine.

Hint: This Olympic athlete posed with the president.

Obama posed with McKayla Maroney


They made her signature face. | The White House/Getty Images

One of the more lighthearted images from Obama’s presidency was this one with Olympic gymnast, McKayla Maroney, in the Oval Office. After winning a silver medal, Maroney briefly made this face on the podium, which went viral. Of course, Maroney’s signature facial expression was a must-do pose during the photo op.

Hint: The moment when this president learned of a national tragedy lives forever.

When George W. Bush learned of the 9/11 attacks

resident George W. Bush

He was reading to children at the time. | Paul J Richards/Getty Images

This photo goes down in history as one of the most poignant because this is the exact moment when President George W. Bush learns of the 9/11 attacks. At the time, he was reading a book to students in Sarasota, Florida.

Hint: A president standing on debris is among the most iconic images.

George W. Bush and firefighter


He visited the rubble of the World Trade Center. | Paul J Richards/Getty Images

In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush stood with a firefighter in the rubble of the World Trade Center. This image became widely circulated and is now one of the most memorable images from Bush’s presidency.

Hint: A quick picture at an event later becomes evidence.

Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky meets with President Clinton

The photo later was used as evidence. | Getty Images

Bill Clinton is pictured with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky at a White House event. This photo was later used as evidence regarding their relationship. Bill Clinton is known for denying their relationship saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Hint: A speech given by Reagan set the stage for this photo.

Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall


He called on the Soviet leader to “tear down this wall.” | AFP/Getty Images

In a now historic speech given in 1987, Ronald Reagan called on the leader of the Soviet Union to “tear down this wall” referring to the Berlin Wall. His speech became instrumental is the removal of the wall and today, part of the wall resides at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, according to the National Archives.

Hint: This president gave a memorable exit.

When Nixon left the White House

Nixon left the White House

He made his exit. | Ollie Atkins/Wikimedia Commons

Richard Nixon resigned as president in the wake of the Watergate scandal in 1974. He made his exit by boarding Marine One, the president’s official helicopter, but not before saying his goodbyes and gesturing to the crowd with two peace signs.

Hint: One first child makes himself at home in the Oval Office.

John F. Kennedy Jr. in the Oval Office

John F. Kennedy Jr. in the Oval Office

The president continued to work around his son. | Getty Images

Without question, one of the most iconic photographs from John F. Kennedy’s time in office is this one of his son, John F. Kennedy Jr., sitting underneath the Resolute Desk, playing. President Kennedy continues to work while a photographer snaps pictures.

Hint: This president takes office in an unusual place.

When LBJ took office

LBJ took office

Jacqueline Kennedy stood by. | Cecil W. Stoughton/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president on Air Force One while Jacqueline Kennedy stood next to him, wearing a pink, blood-stained suit. Hours earlier she sat next to John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Hint: One president’s dog appeared by his side in many photographs.

FDR and his dog

Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his car with his Scottish terrier, Mr Falla.

He loved his dog Fala. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, known for being extremely fond of his dog, Fala, took the dog nearly everywhere. Fala, a Scottish terrier, accompanied FDR to the Oval Office, on official state visits, and on lengthy trips abroad, according to History. After the dog’s death, he was buried at the president’s home in Hyde Park, New York.

Hint: This debate is remembered for a good reason.

The Kennedy and Nixon debate

The Kennedy and Nixon debate

The debate was the first one televised. | United Press International/Wikimedia Commons

As presidential candidates, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon took part in the first televised presidential debate on October 7, 1960. This debate is famous for making physical looks a major part of modern politics because any voter with a TV could see them.

Hint: One president met a baseball legend.

Warren Harding met Babe Ruth


He was fond of Babe Ruth. | Keystone/Getty Images

In April 1923, president Warren Harding attended a baseball game where he met Babe Ruth. Harding was fond of Babe Ruth often asking Americans to “strive for production as Babe Ruth strives for home runs” according to The New York Times.

Hint: This president brought together two nations.

Camp David Accords


It marked the beginning of a peace agreement. | Getty Images

The president of Egypt, Anwar el-Sadat, and the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, signed the Camp David Accords on September 17, 1978, which marked the beginning of a permanent peace agreement. Prior to this, they spent 12 days negotiating the terms of the agreement at Camp David with President Jimmy Carter.

Hint: Action taken by this president made him unpopular.

Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon

Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon

He announced his decision to the nation. | Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons

One of the most iconic pictures of Gerald Ford involves another president. As shown above, Gerald Ford announced his decision to the nation to pardon former president, Richard Nixon, on September 8, 1974. This is the only time in American history a president has been pardoned.

Hint: In a presidential election, a newspaper gets the results wrong.

Truman with newspaper

Truman with newspaper

It was a famous newspaper gaffe. | U.S. Information Agency National Archives

The joke was on Thomas Dewey and the Chicago Daily Tribune after Harry Truman won the 1948 presidential election. The newspaper famously printed an edition early, predicting the wrong winner. Truman then posed with the newspaper later at an event.

Hint: A rock ’n’ roll star requested an audience with the president.

Nixon with Elvis Presley

Nixon with Elvis Presley

It’s one of the most famous presidential photos. | National Archives

Elvis Presley wrote a letter to Richard Nixon and hand-delivered it to the White House. Later the same day, Presley met with Nixon where this photograph was taken. Today, the picture is one of the most widely requested, according to the National Archives.

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