Then And Now: See How Much Places Have Changed

By: Calla Conway | Last updated: Aug 19, 2022

It’s often said that the past is another country. While that may not be true in all cases, comparing the memories you have of your old neighborhood or hometown with the places they are today can be an astonishing experience. That’s doubly true for comparing places one hundred years ago. Not many of us are lucky enough to live that long.

But fortunately, we have photographs. Check out these 15 side-by-side pictures and look in wonder at how times change—or in some cases, stay the same. They’re a good reminder about how much progress can be made in only a few decades—and how fragile our world of construction, fashion, and technology really is.

The Colosseum

Check out this before and after picture of a Greek-style colosseum in Turkey, thought to have still been in use in 3 A.D. This is where warriors and slaves would presumably go to test themselves in combat, willingly or not.

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Before archeologists uncovered this site, it looked like any old hill and field. Amazing! They didn’t just uncover steps, but murals and stone carvings, too. It’s amazing how nature just takes back control over all of humanity’s work once our presence is no longer felt.

The Wall

Some people thought that this wall would never come down, but as time proves, again and again, nothing lasts forever. The Berlin wall came down between 1989 and 1994, marking the end of a long division between the German people.

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Here’s the Brandenburg gate on display for anyone on either side of the wall to see. Berlin looks better with its people united. Before the wall came down, it was illegal to cross over to the other side, even to see family and friends.

Hiroshima’s Reconstruction

The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima devastated everything and everyone in its blast radius. In the first picture, it’s hard to imagine anything growing here ever again. But As you can see, a beautiful city with plenty of trees was built on top.

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It took 75 years, but this is what reconstruction can do. After the whole planet had been plunged into a deadly conflict, American forces dropped the bomb on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. effectively putting an end to the war.

The Excavation Of Machu Picchu

Here’s a reminder that once humans disappear, nature moves in. Machu Picchu was thought to have been last occupied before the arrival of the Spanish in the late 1500s before they brought down most of the civilizations on the continent with bloodshed and smallpox.

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It’s thought that most of the people here died of smallpox before the conquistadors actually arrived. It took archeologists three years to clear this structure of its natural cover. Just imagine what else nature is hiding out there in the world!

The Family Homestead

This photograph, taken in 1900, commemorates the building of a home that would be in the family for the next hundred or so years. After that much time, this family must have had such a strong emotional attachment to this home.

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The second picture was taken in 2000. Imagine sleeping in a bedroom owned by your father and your father’s father. That’s the room behind the window above the front door. It looks like they kept the place looking very neat and tidy.

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The Golden Cross Inn

Here’s another one that kept its look despite the passage of time. Can you guess how old this historic public house, or as they say across the pond, this Coventry pub in England, is? The first picture is a painting completed in 1819. The photograph below was taken in 2019.

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Except for the addition of a traffic sign and electrical lighting, this spot looks almost the same as it was two hundred years ago. The building to the back has changed, but otherwise, a patron who had suddenly found themselves thrown forward (or backward) in time wouldn’t notice until at least the morning after.

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An Old View Of The Delaware

Here’s a direct contrast between past and present. Here the past is being depicted in black and white—they did have color back then! Just not color cameras. In the background is Washington Crossing The Delaware, as viewed by museum-goers from the present and the past.

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The style of dress is so different. We wonder what the older visitors would have thought about their future counterparts dressed as they are—the woman in the middle wearing pants, for example.

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Prague Then And Now

Prague was a stunning city—and obviously, it still is, as you can see from this photo of a slanting street with beautiful brick buildings and cobbled streets. The black and white photo was taken way back in 1910. It’s sparsely populated, and there seems to be a single motorcar or carriage on the road.

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Now the streets are packed, as too are the sidewalks, lined with parked cars. A tree has grown in place of the old streetlight and clock, and a few notices have gone, but otherwise, it seems that nothing much has changed.

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Wartime Snapshots

If you’re lucky enough to be living in a country currently enjoying peacetime and prosperity, it can be wild looking back at some of the more deadly times in history. Here’s a snapshot that was taken in Uelzen, Germany, in 1945 during World War II.

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It’s amazing the way this person superimposed a window into the Battle of Rhine onto the present. Everything matches up perfectly, apart from the soldier with his rifle, the explosion, and the burning fire in the background. Well, quite a few things have changed.

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Life Imitates Art

This may well have been how Vincent Van Gogh saw this cafe in Arles, France—or perhaps the cafe capitalized on the painting to draw in customers. Whatever the case may be, the lighting and colors between these pictures share an uncanny resemblance.

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Perhaps it’s just a coincidence between these pictures, but every modern picture seems to be more occupied by people, and this one is no different. Back then, in 1888, the world was populated by fewer than a billion people—now we’ve gone beyond seven, approaching eight!

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Rebuilding The Ruins

By the end of World War II, much of Europe was in ruins and disarray. The picture on the left depicts the church of St. Martin in Cologne, Germany. Huge chunks of the structure had been blown off, including the rooftop, by artillery and bombs.

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But the picture on the right depicts the building fully restored in 2021. The slim buildings at its fore were also replaced in the same style. It took a lot of work, care, and craft, but the scene has been returned to its former beauty.

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Castle Walls

When you think of England, you probably think of rain, bad food, the queen, and castles. Here’s a medieval wall and entrance from 1865. The picture was taken in York, a city famous for still having city walls. Of course, the city has spilled out since then, but the walls and castles remain.

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Only 250 years ago, life in a city was quite different from what it is today. Cities were strongholds, places where people would seek protection from rival gangs known as “great houses.” Sometimes the biggest gangs, led by kings, would offer peasants protection in exchange for their total obedience. Hence, all those castles and walls.

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The Underground Station

While you may be used to taking the subway on a daily basis if you live in a city, this type of thing would have been a great novelty back then. This is Baker Street, the world’s oldest underground train station, built in 1863 in England.

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It is underground and quite dark, but as you can see, the architects provided windows for the public so that they wouldn’t feel quite so underground. Nowadays, we’re used to the feeling, even inside high-up office buildings!

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The Old Restaurant

This old Brazilian restaurant, built in Petropolis in the 1960s, would have looked practically spaced-aged in its heyday. Now, however, it stands ruined and unused. Everything, including the furniture, bar, and glass windows, has been stripped away.

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It’s a great shame that it fell apart like this. We can imagine it has an amazing view from up high. It has such an interesting shape and design. We would have loved to have dined at this spot. We can imagine that it would have made for a very interesting place to meet friends or date.

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The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Looking at this picture is a little bit like playing spot the difference. Other than the people walking around, the Royal Mile in Scotland looks almost exactly the same in 1847 as it did in 2021. There are minor differences, however. For example, a sidewalk has been cut out.

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Still, the cobbled road remains. The black and white certainly makes it look antiquated. It would be interesting to match a colorized photo with a modern black-and-white picture and test people if they could tell the difference. How many differences between these shots can you find?

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