Fall of KGB Statue, 1991
In August 1991, hardliners in the Communist Party demanded the removal of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who wanted to sign a treaty that would lead to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. They did this by placing him under house arrest and reinstating censorship. However, they were met by mass civil resistance—particularly in Moscow. Even with the aid of the KGB, the feared secret police, hardliners couldn’t win support and their coup toppled in three days. Two AP photographers, Olga Shalygin and Alexander Zemlianichenko, snapped this iconic image of Moscow civilians destroying the large, reviled statue of feared KGB founder, Feliks Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. It won the Pulitzer Prize for AP the next year and became of symbol of the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.
Starving child in Sudan, 1993
The Pulitzer Prize winning photo by Kevin Carter depicts a vulture stalking a starving, dying child, probably awaiting its death. It was a horrific image that brought home the plight of Sudanese children as well as plenty of criticism toward Carter for taking the photo instead of helping the child.
Nelson Mandela Freed, 1991
After a 27-year jail sentence for his revolutionary part in the anti-apartheid movement in Africa, Nelson Mandela was finally freed in 1991. This iconic image shows the jubilant Mandela being release after his wrongful incarceration.
Operation Desert Storm, 1990
Operation Desert Storm, a.k.a the Gulf War, was the war waged by the UN-authorized coalition forces, led by the US, against the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The war marked a change in the way news was delivered, as events were broadcast live from the front lines straight to the homes of US civilians. It was nicknamed the Video Game War for this reason.
Rwanda Massacre, 1994
On April 6, 1994, a group of Hutus began slaughtering the Tutsis in the African country of Rwanda. The brutality ensued for 100 days with the genocide leaving 800,000 dead. The cruelty of it all was that the world allowed the slaughter to occur without any intervention. Though there are various devastating images of the tragedy, this one taken by Annie Leibovitz is one of the most haunting as it shows the bloody feet of children attempting to escape the slaughter by climbing the walls.
Princess Diana Dies in Car Crash, 1997
Diana, the beloved Princess of Wales, died in a horrific car crash on August 31, 1997 while fleeing paparazzi. The images of her totaled car in the tunnel of Pont de l’Alma bridge in Paris made the brutal accident a reality for her well-wishers the world-over, who were left in a state of shock and devastation.
Killing Spree at Columbine High School, 1999
On April 20, 1999, two students – Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris – of Columbine High School in Colorado opened fire on students within their school. It was the first mass student shooting on a U.S. campus and it shocked the entire nation. 13 individuals were killed.
Taken by Charles O’Rear, the iconic Microsoft wallpaper is in fact a photograph of the rolling hills of Sonoma County, California. He took the image for a digital design company, HighTurn, before it was turned in the Microsoft bitmap image, and O’Rear insists it wasn’t manipulated or enhanced in any way.