Same Place Different Years
What would you find if you were time travelling in the past, decades or centuries ago?
This is the question we asked ourselves when contemplating glorious buildings & cities all over the world and how they were transformed during time by various events. From around the globe, here are some of the world’s finest places then and now.
Manhattan (USA) – 1609 / 2009
The first written documents of the area where New York City currently stands date back from 1524, when an Italian explorer arrived here on a French ship and encountered the native population. The abundant beaver population was the main reasons why the Dutch would later establish New Amsterdam or New York City, as it is known today.
Modern New York began growing in 1898 with the consolidation of its five boroughs, including Manhattan, one of its oldest neighbourhoods. The building boom that came with the Great Depression and World War II are one of the most important events that shaped the island we see today.
Dubai – 1990 / 2008
Although several mentions of the area exist since 1085, actual Dubai was established in the 18th century as a small fishing village. Its real boom started in the 1960s, with the discovery of oil that brought in immigrants, expats and a huge demand for new buildings, turning Dubai into a modern, vibrant metropolis. Among its skyscrapers lies Burj Dubai (Khalifa), the tallest building in the world at 2,716.5 ft (828 metres).
Shenshen (China) – 1979 / 2004
Shenshen is the fastest-growing city in China and possibly in the world. In 1979, it was nothing but a tiny fishing village, but the foreign investments changed the face of the city permanently. Nowadays it is a boomtown with no less than 12 million residents.
Las Vegas (Nevada) – 1954 and 2009
What once was just another road cutting through the desert is now the Las Vegas Strip. The changes in Las Vegas are almost as mind-blowing as those in Dubai.
This gambling Mecca of Nevada desert went from a stopover in the 19th century to a popular gambling destination in the 1930s and now it is one of the most distinguishable neon metropolises on Earth.
Times Square (New York) – 1897 / 2007
If you are the least bit familiar with American culture and cinema, you have probably heard once or twice about Time Square, this famous intersection is located at the crossroads of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, in the Manhattan Borough of New York City.
The square formerly known as Longacre Square was renamed in 1904, after The New York Times relocated its offices in the newly built Times Building and its owner, Adolph Ochs, made several requests to the city mayor.
Three weeks after the christening, the first electric advertisement appeared on one of the buildings in the square. As the growth of the city continued, the area became an important location for theatre lovers, music fans or travelling businessmen.
Kabul (Afghanistan) – before and after the Taliban
Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, has been a constant target for attacks since the Soviet war in the 1980s and continuing with attacks from the Taliban that effectively slowed the recovery of the city.
Contrary to other cities listed in the article, Kabul had a negative evolution, from a green and peaceful city to a ruin where females are constantly persecuted. Kabul still is the centre stage for attacks and bombings from various insurgents, fact that will only cripple reconstruction even more.
Flatiron Building (New York) – 1910 / 2008
Located on 175 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York, the Flatiron was one of the tallest buildings in the world at its time and a groundbreaking construction even today. With 22 floors and a height of 285 ft (87 m), the Flatiron Building is featured in more postcards than any other contemporary building in New York, well deserving a title of the city’s most famous landmark.
Oddly enough, the building nicknamed ‘Burnham’s Folly’, after its architect Daniel Burnham, wasn’t given a chance by it’s critics to successfully withstand strong winds due to its triangular shape and impressive height. However, the building is now over 100 years old, still standing and still in use.
Hiroshima (Japan) – 1945 / 2007
During World War II, Hiroshima was one of the cities that suffered immensely from the bombings, with an urban area of 128,000 affected. Following the atomic bomb dropped on August 6, 1945, almost 70% of the city’s buildings were destroyed and 7% seriously damaged.
Furthermore, the Makurazaki Typhoon hit the city several months later, adding even more to the destruction. Nonetheless, the city was completely rebuilt starting with 1949 to the modern metropolis that is today.
Oxford Street (London) – 1890 / 2009
This major street in the city of Westminster, West London is one of the most famous shopping streets in Europe, with several major department and brand flagship stores. The street existed since ancient times, as via Trinobantina , a Roman route that connected Hampshire to Colchester.
It started growing during the late 18th century, when the Earl of Oxford purchased the surrounding area to develop it. Presently, Oxford Street still retains much of its old buildings, giving it a special charm to visitors and shoppers.
Normandy (France) – 1944, then and now
This French region situated along the English Channel was one of the main stages during the Second World War, for the fights between the Germans and the Allied Forces. The D Day landings on the Normandy beaches part of Operation Overlord started the Battle of Normandy that would drive the Nazi forces away and restore France as a republic.
The bombings meant to disrupt German communication destroyed a large part of the French cities located in the region, such as Caen (pictured above), Tilly-la-Campagne or Vire. The cities were quickly rebuilt to their former glory, retaining much of their architecture before the raids.
Bangkok (Thailand) – 1988 / 2007
While the streets and Bangkok’s Lumphini Park is quite the same, the skyline of the city has undergone major transformations. Tens of skyscrapers and high buildings now draw an unmistakable urban line on the horizon.
The park today is at the centre of an important business district, also being a prime venue for several events in Bangkok.
Warsaw (Poland) – after WWII and Today
During the Second World War, Poland’s capital came under the administration of the German Nazis and was eventually destructed by the Germans after the Warsaw uprising of 1944. German leaders wanted to teach Polish citizens a lesson and razed the city in an attempt to reconstruct it according to their plans.
Many buildings that were part of the city’s cultural heritage were razed to the ground but serious efforts were put into rebuilding the city to make it look as it was before the war.
Dresden (Germany) – before and after the Allied Bombing
Being the royal residence for the Kings of Saxony, Dresden was a leading cultural and artistic centre for centuries before it was attacked seven times by the Royal Air Force and US Air Force between 1944 and 1945. Almost 4,000 bombs were dropped on the city destroying 15 sq. m (39 sq. km) of its centre.
After the war, during Soviet occupation and even more after German reunification, Dresden’s landmarks came back to life, restoring much of its former glory.
Volgograd (Russia) in 1942 and 2005
This Russian industrial city formerly known as Stalingrad was the stage for one of the greatest battle on the Eastern front of the Second World War. The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest military confrontations that almost burned the city to the ground.
Volgograd received the title of Hero City for the outstanding heroism it proved during the war. Currently, it stands as a symbol for both Soviet resistance and Communist architecture.
Downtown Estate, Rotherhithe (London) – 1980 / 2000
Located on a peninsula on the southern bank of Thames, the Rotherhithe existed as a port since Elizabethan times and experienced a massive chance starting with the 1980s and continuing in 1999 when the building of a new tube line started.
Wealthy people started acquiring property in this formerly low-income neighbourhood and paved the way for a transformation in a residential area as it can be seen in the picture above.
Tokyo (Japan) – 1960s / 2010
The rise of Tokyo is obvious when comparing these two images of Tokyo Tower: the first one was taken soon after the tower was completed, while the second was captured last year. Once rising from a neighbourhood of traditional Japanese buildings and trees, the tower now nestles in a busy urban environment.
It is amazing to see how the city developed after two serious tragedies of the 20th century that marked its existence – 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and the bombings during the Second World War.