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September 15, 2022

30 Incredible Photos Capture Life in Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s

In the 1950s and 1960s, after being fractured by internal conflict and foreign intervention for centuries, Afghanistan made several tentative steps toward modernization in the mid-20th century. Some of the biggest strides were made toward a more liberal and westernized lifestyle while trying to maintain respect for more conservative factions.

Children in a Kabul, November 1961.

Though officially a neutral nation, Afghanistan was courted and influenced by the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Cold War, accepting Soviet machinery and weapons, and U.S. financial aid.

This time was a brief, relatively peaceful era when modern buildings were constructed in Kabul alongside older traditional mud structures, when burqas became optional for a time, and the country appeared to be on a path toward a more open, prosperous society.

Women, wearing traditional burqas and Persian slippers, walk alongside men, cars and horse carts, in a street in Kabul, 1951. At the time, this street was one of only three paved streets in the capital city.

Progress was halted in the 1970s, as a series of bloody coups, invasions, and civil wars began, continuing to this day, reversing almost all of the steps toward modernization taken in the '50s and '60s.

Afghan boys, men, and a woman walk through a street in Kabul, March 1954.

Afghan boys play with kites as men walk past, November 1959.

Afghan women, men, and child in traditional dress ride in a cart through an arid, rocky landscape, November 1959.

Afghan man leading laden camels and donkeys through an arid, rocky landscape, November 1959.

Motorcade for President Eisenhower’s visit to Kabul, December 1959.

Dancers perform in street of Kabul following President Eisenhower’s arrival from Karachi, December 1959.

Residents of Afghanistan line the route of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s tour in Kabul, December 1959.

Street scene in Kabul, November 1961.

Men stroll past roadside vendors as a painted truck makes its way through the busy street in Kabul, November 1961.

A view of one of the new mosques erected in the suburb of Kabul, November 1961.

A shopfront display of fruits and nuts in Kabul, November 1961.

Vendors sell various fuits and nuts at an outdoor market in Kabul, November 1961.

Kabul, November 1961.

Two Afghan medicine students listening to their professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Kabul, 1962.

Afghan boys, men, and women, some in bare feet, shop at a marketplace in Kabul, May 1964.

A modern traffic light stands incongruously amid burqa-clad women sitting on a Kabul street corner with their backs to their men, May 1964.

An Afghan worker checks a Russian-made truck in the Kabul Janagalak factory on an unspecified date. The factory situated in the center of the city as the only firm for making vehicle chassis was plundered, like other public properties in the Afghan capital, during the Afghan mujahedin rule from 1992 to 1996.

The now-destroyed Kabul-Herat highway that linked the Afghan capital to the Iranian border city of Mashad. Built in the early second half of the 20th century, the highway has been virtually destroyed through decades of warfare.

Entrance to the Karkar coal mine around 12 kilometers northeast of Pulikhumri, the provincial town of the Northern province of Baghlan. The Karkar coal deposit at one time met the needs of Kabul city.

Modern new Finance Ministry building in Kabul, June 1966.

The modern new (completed 1966) government printing plant in Kabul, on June 9, 1966, houses Kabul Times.

Inside the modern new government printing plant in Kabul on June 9, 1966, which houses Kabul Times.

Street scene in Kabul, November 1966.

The King of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah rides in his limousine on Kabul’s central road Idga Wat, 1968.

Kabul, May 1968.

City park in Kabul, May 1968.

A quiet scene in a street through the bazaar of Kabul, December 1969.

A panoramic view showing the old and new buildings in Kabul, August 1969.

(via Rare Historical Photos)


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