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10 Then-And-Now Photos of Raleigh, NC That Best Reflect Its Amazing Evolution

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The Raleigh we know today is a beautiful city loved by its residents and visitors alike, rich in museums, performing arts venues, education, and regularly awarded as one of the top five U.S. cities for health, happiness, families, technology, and retirement. It was named #1 city for Best Place for Business and Careers by Forbes and credited with having the most “smart people living in the same place.”

We are honoring the evolution of this amazing city over the last century with a collection of time-lapse photos of Raleigh, in coordination with the State Archives of North Carolina and Google Street View. Slide left and right and pick your favorite images of the past or present:

1. Downtown Raleigh

Year: 1966

In the original photo we see Wake County’s central business district taking form. Directly ahead is the North Carolina State Capitol building. Today we see the skyline has filled in significantly. In the forefront is the Raleigh Convention Center and Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Photo Credit 1966: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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2. Capitol Square

Year: 1925-1929

While certainly more barren looking, this early photograph of the North Carolina State Capitol building shows forward planning with a clear grid system being built. The church at the left corner is Christ Church of Capitol Square, which still remains today. The buildings to the left now house the North Carolina Museum of History and Science.

Photo Credit 1925-1929: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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3. Martin Street

Year: 1946

Contrasting views of the 100 block of Martin Street show new street lights, traffic lights, new vehicles, and higher buildings. Yet there’s something about old Raleigh – maybe its walkability, small businesses, and more eclectic architecture – that give the city a less sterile, more inviting air.

Photo Credit 1946: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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4. Intersection of Morgan and Wilmington Streets

Year: 1916

This shot presents some of the best of Raleigh in both its improvements and preservation of history. In the original, there’s not much we can see other than a mess of powerlines, bent utility poles, and heavy snow. Today the church still remains, as do trees, and a collection of other brick and stone buildings from different decades of real estate development.

Photo Credit 1916: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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5. Salisbury Street

Year: 1935

This view of Salisbury St. shows the street lined with small businesses, powerlines, and on-street parking. The Lawyers Building was torn down in 2009 to make room for the new Wake County Courthouse. In today’s view we see more glass being used, including in the upper floors of the Wells Fargo building on the right.

Photo Credit 1935: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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6. Fayetteville Street at Davie Street

Year: 1917

While the State Capitol building remains at the end of the street, gone are the horse and carts and cable car lines. While some great works of architecture are gone today, this stretch of Fayetteville St. shows some of the better examples of modern building design in Raleigh, with different colored stone, and gleaming glass towers.

Photo Credit 1917: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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7. PNC Plaza, Fayetteville Street

Year: ~1970

This is the PNC Plaza building, the tallest building in Raleigh, at 33 floors. The original strip of small businesses were built in the 1880s. The new tower houses offices, retail, and 139 residential condo apartments in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina. The new structure completed in 2008 saw residential units sold out in just 3 months.

Photo Credit `1970: Library of Congress
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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8. Downtown Raleigh Aerial View

Year: 1960

Almost 100 years after being named after Sir Walter Raleigh, the ‘City of Oaks’ made a major transition by renaming schools, and making an investment of over $620M over the span of 15 years in redeveloping the Centennial Campus. Thanks to this aerial perspective, we can see that traditional brick architecture dominates the area, and great effort has been made towards retaining green space.

Photo Credit 1960: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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9. Aerial views of downtown and nearby areas of Raleigh

Year: 1960

While there may be more high rises now, one of the most noticeable differences in this view is the increase in open space and ground area dedicated to parking. In the center of today’s image we see the towering glass PNC Plaza in front of the Wake County Justice Center.

Photo Credit 1960: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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10. Aerial view looking over Salisbury Street

Year: 1933

The two groups of trees bounding this view belong to Nash Square on the left, and Moore Square on the right. While government buildings certainly dominate the downtown area, much of the new development in the forefront appeared and developed thanks to Raleigh’s growing arts scene. Note the amphitheater, convention center, and Duke Energy Center.

Photo Credit 1960: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

Use the code below to embed the image on your website:

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About the author

Nadia Balint

Nadia Balint is an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé. She loves writing and reading about real estate, lifestyle and travel. She finds joy and inspiration in the little things in life. You can get in touch with Nadia via email: nadia.balint@yardi.com.

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