Real Estate News

Then & Now: See How the World’s Most Iconic Skylines Changed

International cities Time-Lapse - Old vs New

Teeming with the most mind-blowing innovations, the past 50-60 years have been without a shadow of a doubt the most exciting times in the history of mankind. From lunar landings to smartphones (or smart homes for that matter) we’ve seen a lot that had seemed unimaginable before.

While setting the stage for these important breakthroughs, our cities changed with us and their growth has been equally impressive. We see metropolitan areas and suburban communities expand day by day before our very eyes. However, city cores demonstrated a more dramatic projection of this trend, simply by going vertical. Take a stroll down memory lane with us and see what some of today’s most remarkable skylines looked like a few decades back.

1. NEW YORK CITY

View from the Empire State Building

The Big Apple has grown a lot since the Chrysler Building lost its ‘Tallest in the world’ title to the Empire State Building. The images below present views from the latter toward Midtown East, with parts of Roosevelt Island and Queens’ Astoria neighborhood in the background.

Photo Credit 2014: Aleksandr Reznik / Google Maps Photo Credit 1932: Samuel Gottscho [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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View of Dowtown Manhattan

Somehow, change is not the word that springs to mind when looking at the Manhattan skyline… Transformation perhaps? Or metamorphosis? You decide, while we play spot-the-relic in the Financial District.

Photo Credit 2015: Daniel Perez / Google Maps Photo Credit 1941: Jack Delano [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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View from Queensboro Bridge

Part of Roosevelt Island’s charm is that it seems to be frozen in time at first glance. Then you notice the background…

Photo Credit 2013: Google Maps Photo Credit 1938: Kathleen Hulser / Newyorkhistoryblog.org

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2. TORONTO – Skyline

The 34-story, 476-foot Commerce Court North used to be the tallest building in the Toronto skyline in the early 30s. Who would have thought back then that it would completely disappear among a plethora of new skyscrapers by the turn of the century? Watch out CN Tower…

Photo Credit 2015: Ev Delen / Google Maps Photo Credit 1930s: Derek Flack / Blogto.com

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3. RIO DE JANEIRO – Christ the Redeemer

The Guanabara Bay in Rio preserved its appeal over the decades. The city’s Botafogo neighborhood at Christ the Redeemer’s feet has since grown into one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world.

Photo Credit 2014: Ohmygodfacts.com Photo Credit 1926-1931: Imgur.com

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4. PARIS – View from Eiffel Tower

The oldest in our selection, this 1889 image is probably one of the first photos that’s ever been shot from the top of the then-controversial structure in the heart of the French capital. The Eiffel Tower hasn’t changed much since it was completed for Exposition Universelle—and to be fair, nor has the rest of the area apart from the Front de Seine district on the far left of the image, which was brought to life in the 1970s.

Photo Credit 2013: Google Maps Photo Credit 1889: By …trialsanderrors, via Wikimedia Commons

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5. LONDON – View from Victoria Tower

London’s Westminster area has always been among the most recognizable cityscapes. The iconic panorama has remained fairly unchanged, and the more recent constructions only added more oomph to the already very imposing South Bank.

Photo Credit 2012: Onehdwallpaper.com Photo Credit 1920s: Wikipedia.org

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6. MOSCOW – View of Grand Kremlin Palace and the Financial District

The Grand Kremlin Palace and the surrounding area on the banks of Moskva River also remained relatively unchanged during the past century or so. If you look closely though, you might spot some skyscrapers towering behind the tsar’s residence

Photo Credit 2015: Google Maps Photo Credit 1917: Iliketowastemytime.com

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7. SHANGHAI – Pudong

Compared to the early 20th century, the eighties must seem like yesterday, right? Not if you look at Shanghai’s Pudong district. It seems as though the Chinese city has stepped into the space age and it’s hard to believe that all of this happened in less than three decades.

Photo Credit 2013: Reuters/Stringer, Carlos Barria Photo Credit 1987: Reuters/Stringer, Carlos Barria

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8. SYDNEY – View from the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout

The view from Sydney Harbour Bridge’s pylon lookout has also gone through a genuinely formidable transformation since the structure—dubbed Coathanger—was inaugurated in 1932. Part of its awe is the strong contrast between the historic buildings in the foreground and the stately towers of the CBD.

Photo Credit 2015: Olivier Wavre / Google Maps Photo Credit 1930s: Photo by the late Fred Yates via Locofonic.alphalink.com.au

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Remember, technological growth is exponential… So if you’re shocked by how far we’ve come in less than a century, prepare for a bumpy ride as the future is coming even faster than that!

About the author

Balazs Szekely

Balazs is a qualified journalist with a thing for real estate. This obsession comes in handy in his work as an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafe. When he’s not thrashing his keyboard, he takes pleasure in photography, aquascaping and all kinds of DIY projects. Feel free to get in touch with Balazs via email or Twitter.

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