Oldest photos of cities reveal how much they’ve changed

Ever wondered what New York looked like before the bright lights of Broadway, Tokyo before it became a sprawling metropolis and London‘s Trafalgar Square before it became a tourist hot spot?

These remarkable images are some of the oldest known photos of famous cities around the world.

With the advent of photography in the 19th century, people were finally able to record their surrounding landscapes for the first time – and these then-and-now snaps offer a fascinating insight into how they used to be.

Pictured is the same area in 1839
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Modern day London (left) looking down Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square with the statue of Charles I in the foreground, which has stood in the same spot for three and a half centuries. Pictured (right) is the same area in 1839

These early images of some of the most important cities across the world truly reveal how much the urban landscape has changed.

Most of them are almost unrecognisable when compared to their modern-day cityscapes.

A strangely deserted Trafalgar Square and Parliament Street can be spotted in the 1839 image of London.

Meanwhile Dublin’s earliest photo, taken in 1848, shows a group of smartly dressed Victorians posing in front of St George’s Church – which is now used as an office space.

It's unrecognisable compared to how it looked back in 1848
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New York’s Broadway, seen (left) as it is now, is unrecognisable compared to how it looked back in 1848 (right)

... shows just how much it's changed since this photo, which was taken in 1855
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A modern day image of Macquarie Street, Sydney (left), shows just how much it’s changed since this photo (right), which was taken in 1855

This photo was taken in 1851, one of the earliest such snaps
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A modern day view of San Francisco (left), with no abandoned ships in the harbour, compared to this photo (right) taken in 1851, one of the earliest such snaps

It is near impossible to distinguish downtown Los Angeles amongst the sprawling farm land in the 1860 photo, whilst the 1848 image of New York shows a quite different Broadway than the bustling one we know today.

It is rare to see people in the photographs not only because these cities were far less populated then but also because the exposure time for a photograph in the late 1800s was several seconds.

The few people that are present in the images would have needed to pose for quite a long period in order to make an impression on the final image.

One shot from a slightly different angle in 1848
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An image of St George’s Church, in modern day Dublin (left) and one shot from a slightly different angle in 1848 (right)

The very first image of Paris and also the first photograph of a human being -the man getting his shoes shined
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Boulevard du Temple, Paris, in modern times (left) and (right) the very first image of Paris and also the first photograph of a human being – the man getting his shoes shined

It is largely unchanged since this grainy image was snapped back in 1850
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St George’s Hall in modern day Liverpool (left) is largely unchanged since this grainy image (right) was snapped back in 1850

Pictured in 1845, the hill on the left-hand side of the image is where the Panathenaic was built
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The Panathenaic stadium (left), also known as the marble stadium, that was built for the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens. Pictured (right) in 1845, the hill on the left-hand side of the image is where the Panathenaic was built

Part of a panoramic photo of Edo, now Tokyo, taken in 1866 by Italian-British photographer Felice Beato. The image is taken from Atagoyama hill, which is now a park.
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Modern day Tokyo (left) and (right) a panoramic photo of Edo, now Tokyo, taken in 1866 by Italian-British photographer Felice Beato. The image was taken from Atagoyama hill, which is now a park

This was taken around 1860. It's possible to see the Plaza Church, built in 1822, in the lower left corner of the photo which is the only remaining structure left today
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Downtown Los Angeles today (left). The photo on the right was taken around 1860. It’s possible to see the Plaza Church, built in 1822, in the lower left corner of the photo, which is the only remaining structure left today

This one was taken in 1860 from a hot air balloon. This photograph is also the oldest surviving aerial image, a pre-cursor for drones
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An aerial image of Boston in modern times (left), compared with one taken in 1860 from a hot air balloon (right). This photograph is also the oldest surviving aerial image, a pre-cursor for drones

Things looked very different back in 1839, with this photo showing the Central High School in the same spot
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The corner of Walnut and Juniper Street, Philadelphia, in modern times (left). Things looked very different back in 1839, with this photo (right) showing the Central High School in the same spot

In 1846 (pictured), the building still stood but was then the Old Patent Office
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The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington DC (left). In 1846 (right), the building still stood but was then the Old Patent Office

An image of the ancient city with the Colosseum clearly visible taken in 1842
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Rome in modern times (left), compared with an image of the ancient city with the Colosseum clearly visible taken in 1842 (right)

A photo of the same area in 1840, which shows the spire of Marienkirche in the background, still standing today
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A view of Leipziger Strasse in modern day Berlin (left) and right, a photo of the same area in 1840, which shows the spire of Marienkirche in the background, still standing today

Here it is seen as it was in 1848
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A modern image of Tolbooth Church in Edinburgh, now known as the Hub (left) and (right) as it was in 1848

This is how it looked in 1840
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A modern day photograph of Copenhagen and the public square now known as Grabrodretorv (left) and (right) how it looked in 1840

How it appeared in 1856, in one of its earliest known photos
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King Street in modern day Toronto (left) compared with how it appeared in 1856 (right) in one of its earliest known photos

Posted on; DailyMail>>

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