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Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
January 14, 2024 ·  14 min read

30 Then and Now Photos of Historical Places Showing How Quickly Things Change

Rephotography involves the meticulous art of capturing then and now images of locations featured in old photographs. This pursuit can present considerable challenges, particularly with significantly aged photos, as locations frequently undergo substantial transformations over the years. Locating the precise spot where a picture was taken, especially from nearly a century ago or more, proves to be exceedingly demanding.

Nonetheless, the community members of the r/OldPhotosInRealLife subreddit enthusiastically embrace these challenges and consistently offer remarkable reimaginations of historical photographs in present-day settings. Their recreations vividly demonstrate how time has the power to alter landscapes, showcasing the evolution of places—sometimes not always for the better.

1. The Arctic: A Comparison of 103 Years Ago, then and now

The Arctic: then and now
Image Credit:

A century has passed, marking a stark contrast between the Arctic’s visage a hundred and three years ago and its current state. The transformative impact of time on this pristine region is starkly evident in a comparative analysis. Weathered photographs and modern-day images side by side reveal the poignant tale of environmental change, where receding ice, altered landscapes, and shifting ecosystems paint a vivid picture of the Arctic’s evolving story.

2. The Shambles in York, UK: A Source of Inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Comparison between the late 1800s and the present day

The Shambles in York, UK: A Source of Inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Comparison between the late 1800s and the present day
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The Shambles in York, UK, an enchanting cobbled street, served as a muse for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. Contrasting the late 1800s with the present day, this then and now illustrates the enduring charm of this historic location.

Capturing the essence of a bygone era, the comparison showcases the remarkable preservation of its timber-framed buildings, winding alleys, and quaint shops. While time has brought subtle changes in signage and modernization, the essence and allure of this magical place persist, casting a spellbinding connection between history and fantasy.

3. Los Angeles in its Early Years Contrasted with 2001

then and now: Los Angeles in its Early Years Contrasted with 2001
Image Credit:

In the comparison between the early years of Los Angeles and the cityscape of 2001, a striking evolution emerges. The transformation of this bustling metropolis from its nascent stages to the turn of the 21st century exemplifies a tale of exponential growth and urban development.

The contrast reveals a shift in architectural landscapes, cultural diversification, and the burgeoning influence of technology. From its humble origins as a pueblo to a sprawling cosmopolitan hub, Los Angeles stands as a testament to the dynamism of progress and adaptation, showcasing a narrative that intertwines history with modernity.

4. 1920 / 2020: San Francisco, California

1920 / 2020: San Francisco, California
Image Credit: shefoundnow

Spanning a century, the photographic comparison of San Francisco, California, in 1920 and 2020 showcases an enthralling evolution. The contrast depicts the city’s remarkable transformation over time. From the vintage architecture, bustling streets, and historic landmarks of the past to the modern skyline, technological advancements, and contemporary urban lifestyle of the present day, the parallel images unveil the city’s journey through time, illustrating the fusion of history and progress in the vibrant landscape of San Francisco.

5. The Evolution of This Georgian City

The Evolution of This Georgian City
Image Credit:

The development of this city in Georgia unveils a rich tapestry of progress and change. From its humble origins, this city has blossomed into a thriving hub, balancing historical significance with modern innovation. Through strategic urban planning, economic growth, and a vibrant cultural identity, it has evolved into a dynamic metropolis.

The city’s skyline, once marked by modest structures, now showcases contemporary architectural marvels, reflecting its journey from a quaint settlement to a bustling center of commerce, culture, and community. This progression symbolizes the resilience and adaptability of the city, embracing change while honoring its heritage.

6. From Fascism to Kebabs: Durham in 1934 vs. 2020

then and now: From Fascism to Kebabs: Durham in 1934 vs. 2020
Image Credit:

The transformation from the shadow of fascism to the vibrant diversity of kebabs encapsulates the intriguing narrative of Durham then and now. The shift illustrates an astounding evolution in cultural, social, and culinary landscapes.

In 1934, Durham might have been overshadowed by political turmoil and the rise of oppressive ideologies, whereas in 2020, the cultural vibrancy is evident, manifesting through culinary fusion and the celebration of diverse flavors, marking a shift toward openness and inclusivity. The contrast embodies a powerful testament to the resilience and adaptability of society, showcasing the profound changes and the celebration of multiculturalism in Durham.

7. Singapore then and now

Singapore then and now
Image Credit:

From its early days as a trading post to its current status as a global financial hub and technological marvel, the city-state has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis. Once a bustling port town with colonial influences, today’s Singapore is an ultramodern metropolis boasting iconic skyscrapers, innovative urban design, and a rich blend of cultures.

The then and now between its historical roots and the present-day skyline exemplifies the nation’s journey toward economic prosperity, technological advancements, and a melting pot of traditions, demonstrating the remarkable evolution of Singapore over time.

8. Cycling Through Berlin’s Kreuzberg (Approx. 1985 / 2018)

Cycling Through Berlin's Kreuzberg (Approx. 1985 / 2018)
Image Credit:

Berlin’s Kreuzberg, in the snapshots of around 1985 and 2018, reflects an intriguing evolution in its cultural and urban landscape. Initially a vibrant enclave known for its counterculture and diverse community in the 1980s, the district was a nucleus for artistic expression and alternative lifestyles.

Fast forward to 2018, Kreuzberg remains a captivating mosaic of history and innovation, blending its bohemian roots with modernity. The transition reveals not only physical alterations in its architecture and streets but also a transformation in the district’s character, embracing its history while adapting to contemporary influences, making it a testament to the dynamic spirit of Berlin’s neighborhoods.

9. Chichen Itza 1892 And Now

then and now: Chichen Itza 1892 And Now
Image Credit:

Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stands as a captivating symbol of ancient Mayan culture and architectural prowess. Comparing the site’s depiction then and now offers a striking view of its historical grandeur and the effects of time and preservation.

The contrast between the late 19th century and the modern era reveals not only the site’s architectural preservation but also the changes, renovations, and restoration efforts that have ensured its cultural significance endures through the ages.

10. World War I Trenches then and now

World War I Trenches then and now
Image Credit:

The historical narrative of World War I trenches presents a poignant comparison between their harrowing reality during the conflict and their current-day transformation. From being entrenched battlegrounds fraught with unimaginable challenges, the comparison with their present condition illustrates a haunting yet powerful testimony to the passage of time.

What were once sites of immense suffering, strategic military planning, and sacrifice have now evolved into poignant reminders, often preserved as memorials or historical sites. The before and after vividly illustrates the contrast between the grueling past and the solemn, commemorated present, offering a glimpse into the enduring impact of a significant era in human history.

11. Bishan Park: A 30-Year Transformation. Upper Image: 1988. Lower Image: 2020

then and now: Bishan Park: A 30-Year Transformation. Upper Image: 1988. Lower Image: 2020
Image Credit:

Bishan Park’s 30-year transformation, illustrated in the contrasting images from 1988 and 2020, reflects a remarkable then and now metamorphosis. The top picture, captured in 1988, portrays a landscape of earlier days, possibly depicting a more natural and rustic setting.

Fast forward to the lower image from 2020, the park’s evolution is evident, showcasing modern amenities, enhanced landscaping, and possibly a more urbanized environment. The comparison between these snapshots offers a striking visual narrative of urban development, environmental changes, and the park’s adaptation to the shifting needs and preferences of the community over three decades.

12. Utrecht, Netherlands: A Contrast of 1982 and 2020. The Transformation of a Highway Into a Canal

Utrecht, Netherlands: A Contrast of 1982 and 2020. The Transformation of a Highway Into a Canal
Image Credit:

The evolution of Utrecht, Netherlands, showcased in the comparison between 1982 and 2020, exemplifies a remarkable urban metamorphosis. A pivotal transformation occurred as the city ingeniously converted a once-bustling highway into a serene and navigable canal.

This significant change represents a shift towards sustainable urban planning, offering a dramatic shift from vehicular dominance to a more pedestrian and environmentally friendly landscape. The juxtaposition between these two timeframes not only displays the city’s infrastructure innovation but also underscores the commitment to adaptability and the preservation of the city’s historical charm within a modern, forward-thinking urban framework.

13. Images of Moscow, Two Decades Apart

Images of Moscow, Two Decades Apart
Image Credit: Tfue2

Capturing Moscow’s evolution, then and now reveals a city in a state of dramatic transformation. The comparative images illustrate the profound changes that have unfolded within this timeframe, showcasing a dynamic shift in architecture, urban development, and the city’s overall landscape.

From the evolution of skylines to the modernization of infrastructure, these contrasting snapshots tell a story of Moscow’s remarkable journey through time, reflecting the intersection between tradition and rapid progression in a dynamic and ever-evolving metropolis.

14. The Banyan Tree in Maui: World War II Era and Present Day

then and now: The Banyan Tree in Maui: World War II Era and Present Day
Image Credit:

“The Banyan Tree in Maui holds a sentimental link between generations. The upper image, captured by my grandfather during his World War II stationing, resonates with historical significance. Serendipitously, the bottom photo, taken by me without prior knowledge of my grandfather’s image, beautifully aligns our family’s history with the present. This accidental synchronicity not only mirrors the enduring grandeur of the Banyan Tree but also offers a poignant connection bridging past and present, weaving an unanticipated yet heartfelt narrative that transcends time.” –

Read: 45 Historic Pics And Artifacts That Might Make You See Things In A New Light

15. The Flatiron Building in New York: 1917 versus 2012

The Flatiron Building in New York: 1917 versus 2012
Image Credit:

A compelling tale of time’s passage, the comparison between the Flatiron Building in New York from 1917 to 2012 offers a captivating view of architectural continuity and change. The images speak volumes about the enduring grace of this iconic structure, persisting through the years while bearing witness to the city’s evolution.

The Flatiron’s facade stands as a testament to the city’s history, portraying an enthralling blend of past and present, showcasing the enduring beauty and resilience of this architectural gem amidst the ever-shifting urban landscape of New York.

16. St. Bartholomew-The-Great’s Gatehouse: Revealed its Tudor Facade in 1916 due to a WW1 Zeppelin raid, restored to its present appearance

St. Bartholomew-The-Great's Gatehouse: Revealed its Tudor Facade in 1916 due to a WW1 Zeppelin raid, restored to its present appearance
Image Credit:

St. Bartholomew- The Great’s Gatehouse, an architectural gem from 1595, underwent a fascinating transformation due to historic events. Initially bricked over, a WW1 Zeppelin bombing in 1916 dislodged the bricks, uncovering its hidden Tudor half-timbered facade.

This stunning revelation led to its subsequent restoration, preserving its Tudor charm and bringing the gatehouse to its present-day appearance, offering a striking contrast between its wartime revelation and the meticulously restored beauty visible today.

17. 75 Years On: The Atomic Bomb Dome

75 Years On: The Atomic Bomb Dome
Image Credit: wdsoi

Seventy-five years after the catastrophic event, the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima stands as a solemn testament to history. This poignant structure, once a bustling commercial and cultural center, now serves as a poignant symbol of peace and remembrance.

Surviving the atomic bombing in 1945, the skeletal remains of the dome persist as a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of nuclear warfare. It stands not only as a memorial but also as a beacon of hope. Urging for global peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons, commemorating the past while advocating for a peaceful future.

18. Singapore: 2000 vs. Present Day

Singapore: 2000 vs. Present Day
Image Credit:

Comparing Singapore from the year 2000 to its present-day landscape reveals an incredible transformation. What was once a bustling city with a blend of modernity and tradition has evolved into a vibrant metropolis at the forefront of innovation.

The skyline has been reshaped by modern architectural marvels, reflecting the city-state’s rapid economic growth and urban development. Today’s Singapore boasts not only a thriving economy but also a diverse cultural tapestry and a robust infrastructure. Symbolizing its journey from a city of the past to a beacon of the future.

19. Rysstad, Norway: 1888 to 2013

Rysstad, Norway: 1888 to 2013
Image Credit:

The comparison of Rysstad, Norway, between 1888 and 2013 reflects a fascinating journey of time. The evolution is depicted through the transformation of landscapes, architecture, and possibly the community’s way of life. This comparison offers a window into the changes that have shaped the town. Showing the progression, modernization, and adaptation that occurred over the years in this Norwegian setting.

Read: 50 Pics Capturing the Often Overlooked Beauty of Humanity

20. Seljestadjuvet, Odda, Norway: 1887 to 2014

Seljestadjuvet, Odda, Norway: 1887 to 2014
Image Credit:

The comparison between Seljestadjuvet in Odda, Norway, from 1887 to 2014 remarkably reveals a scene of apparent continuity and preservation. Astonishingly little appears to have changed within this timeframe. Showcasing a landscape seemingly untouched by major human interference or environmental alterations.

The enduring nature of the site, with its consistent features and possibly unaltered surroundings, stands as a testament to the area’s natural resilience and the efforts to maintain its original charm over the years.

21. Quai Des Nations, Paris, France: 1900 to 2017

Quai Des Nations, Paris, France: 1900 to 2017
Image Credit:

Over a span of more than a century, the Quai Des Nations in Paris, France, has witnessed significant changes from 1900 to 2017. This historical progression reveals a metamorphosis in the cityscape and the evolution of this iconic riverside location.

From potential alterations in infrastructure to urban development, the comparison of these periods showcases the shifts in architectural styles. Potentially reflecting the city’s development and its adaptation to the changing times. The visual contrast provides a glimpse into the rich history and the modernization of this Parisian quay.

22. Intersection of Ratajczaka and Św. Marcin Streets, Poznań, Poland: 1945 to 2017

Intersection of Ratajczaka and Św. Marcin Streets, Poznań, Poland: 1945 to 2017
Image Credit:

The historical transition of the intersection at Ratajczaka and Św. Marcin Streets in Poznań, Poland, spanning from 1945 to 2017, presents a captivating metamorphosis. This visual journey captures the evolution of the cityscape, potentially showcasing post-war restoration, urban development, and the shifting architectural landscape.

The comparison offers a fascinating insight into the changes that have taken place over these decades. Depicting the city’s transformation from the aftermath of war to a vibrant, modern urban hub, marking a tale of resilience, progress, and adaptation within the heart of Poznań.

23. Pripyat, Ukraine, 1986 – 2016

Pripyat, Ukraine, 1986 - 2016
Image Credit:

The haunting visual comparison of Pripyat, Ukraine, between 1986 and 2016 encapsulates a narrative of desolation and the lasting impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The images portray the profound aftermath, displaying the abandoned buildings, overgrown surroundings, and the eerie emptiness that still lingers in the wake of the catastrophe.

The stark contrast between these periods underscores the enduring effects of the tragic event. Marking Pripyat as a silent witness to a significant moment in history. Serving as a poignant reminder of the consequences of a nuclear disaster on a once-thriving city.

24. Chaney Glacier, USA, 1911 – 2005

Chaney Glacier, USA, 1911 - 2005
Image Credit:

The visual comparison of Chaney Glacier in the United States between 1911 and 2005 highlights a stark narrative of environmental change. These images reflect the glacier’s significant retreat over this period, revealing the impact of climate change on the landscape.

The drastic reduction in size serves as a powerful illustration of the far-reaching consequences of global warming. Emphasizing the vulnerability of glaciers to these shifts in temperature. The comparison underlines the glacier’s dramatic decline, signaling a broader environmental concern and emphasizing the urgency to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change on our planet’s delicate ecosystems.

25. Moulin Rouge, Paris, France: 1900 to 2016

Moulin Rouge, Paris, France: 1900 to 2016
Image Credit:

The transformation of the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France, captured between 1900 and 2016, unveils the passage of time in the heart of Montmartre. These snapshots showcase the evolution of the iconic cabaret venue, reflecting changes in its surroundings and potentially the urban landscape.

The comparison offers a glimpse into the cultural history of the renowned establishment and its enduring allure over the years. Encapsulating the city’s history while highlighting the adaptation and continuity of this vibrant Parisian landmark.

26. Horse Cart and Steam Locomotive, Mont Saint-Michel, France: 1908 to 2016

Horse Cart and Steam Locomotive, Mont Saint-Michel, France: 1908 to 2016
Image Credit:

The contrasting images from Mont Saint-Michel, France, in 1908 and 2016, portray an intriguing glimpse into the evolution of transportation. The presence of a horse cart in 1908 and a steam locomotive in 2016 signifies the significant transition in mobility and technology over the years.

This visual comparison not only underscores the changes in transportation methods but also reflects the historical progress from traditional means to more advanced modes of travel. Offering a fascinating insight into the shifting landscapes of transportation within this iconic French locale.

27. Reichstag, Germany, 1945 – 2012

Reichstag, Germany, 1945 - 2012
Image Credit:

Reichstag, Germany, witnessed a remarkable transformation between 1945 and 2012. The stark visual comparison captures the narrative of a nation’s history. Symbolizing a passage from the ravages of war to the path of renewal and progress.

The images may illustrate the destruction inflicted during World War II, juxtaposed with the restoration and reconstruction efforts undertaken in later years. This marks a testament to resilience, architectural revival, and Germany’s commitment to preserving its heritage while embracing modernity.

28. Marcin Street, Poznań, Poland: 1945 to 2017

Marcin Street, Poznań, Poland: 1945 to 2017
Image Credit:

From the ruins of post-war devastation to the bustling cityscape of 2017, Marcin Street in Poznań, Poland, encapsulates a captivating visual story of resilience and urban revival. The contrast between these years portrays a significant transformation. Reflecting the city’s recovery and the reconstruction efforts following the destruction of World War II.

The street’s evolution illustrates not only the restoration of architecture but also the revival of vibrant city life, showcasing a poignant journey of recovery and progress within Poznań’s historical and cultural landscape.

29. Nowomiejska Street, Łódź, Poland: 1874 to 2016

Nowomiejska Street, Łódź, Poland: 1874 to 2016
Image Credit:

The visual journey of Nowomiejska Street in Łódź, Poland, spanning from 1874 to 2016, narrates a compelling story of urban evolution and historical transformation. Through the years, the street has seen a remarkable metamorphosis. Potentially witnessing the changes in architecture, lifestyle, and the urban fabric of Łódź. The visual comparison provides insight into the city’s progression. Marking a passage from a bygone era to a modern urban landscape, reflecting the city’s resilience, growth, and adaptation over the years.

30. St-Gervais-Et-St-Protais, France: 1918 to 2017

St-Gervais-Et-St-Protais, France: then and now
Image Credit:

From the historic echoes of 1918 to the contemporary landscape of 2017, the transition of St-Gervais-Et-St-Protais in France offers a captivating tale of evolution. The visual comparison likely illustrates the changes in architecture, infrastructure, and the general cityscape. Depicting the evolution of this picturesque French town.

The contrast between these years provides a glimpse into the transformation and development of St-Gervais-Et-St-Protais. Showcasing the blend of tradition and modernity that shapes the town’s visual narrative over the years.

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  1. 20 ‘Then And Now’ Pics That Show How Time Changes Things.” Demilked. Aušrys Uptas. 2020
  2. 81 Before & After Pics Showing How The World Has Changed Over Time By Re.Photos.” Bored Panda. Sören Weber. November 16, 2017