Cities change: skyscrapers go up, row houses are torn down, neighbourhoods gentrify, earthquakes destroy. Vintage photographs of cities can be fascinating in and of themselves, but the familiar unfamiliarity of these time-warped photographs are especially intriguing.
From San Francisco to St Petersburg, here are how cities have changed — and not changed — over the years. See history peek through familiar modern sights.
Porte Saint Denis in the 10th arrondissement
Quai des Grands-Augustins during the floods of 1910
The French blogger behind Golem13.fr went around snapping photos of Paris last month, and then stitched them together with postcards from the early 19th century. Check out more of the work, including Parisian icons like Notre Dame and Moulin, over at Golem13.fr.
Edna Egberg climbed into her ledge fighting with policemen, 1942.
A stolen car smashed into the streetlight in Brooklyn, 1957.
Using the archives of the New York Daily News, photographer and historian of the New York Press Photographers Association Marc Hermann put old crime scenes into their modern-day contexts. As Alissa Walker observed writing about these photographs for Gizmodo, it’s stunning how little New York City has changed over the decades. Other than a coat of new paint, the buildings are still largely intact and unchanged. [New York Daily News]
The Catherine Palace, summer residence of the Tsars, after fire.
Anti-aircraft machine-gun “Maxim” in Senate Square.
In his introduction to these photos of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Sergie Larenkov writes in his idiosyncratic English, “Dear friends, if you’re interested in travel into the past, I will try to help you. But be warned, the history often hides a very scary pages, and return to the present is much more pleasant than to travel into the past.” Over dozens of photos, a gilded, modern city is merged with streets full of soldiers, tanks, and dead bodies. [Sergie Larenkov]
Inspired by Sergie Larenkov’s St. Petersburg photos, photographer Shawn Clover began a project documenting an episode of destruction of his own city, San Francisco. The photos in Fade to 1906, which he’s turning into a book, combine rubble-filled streets with the gleaming modern cars. Prints of these photographs are also available for purchase on his website. [Fade to 1906]
Westminster Abbey with a Procession of Knights of the Bath (1749)
Northumberland House (1752)
Italian painter Canaletto was a prolific chronicler of 18th-century London. Earlier this year, reddit user shystone took Canaletto’s centuries-old paintings and put them into Google Street View, juxtaposing two very different ways we vicariously view cities. Her photo mashups hit the familiar sites, and her captions are a lovely walk through London history. [Reddit]
Driving through the Toronto neighbourhood where his mother grew up, Harry Enchin began thinking about his changing city. Thus began Toronto TIME, a photo project both chronicling and contrasting decades of the city’s history. Check out Enchin’s website for more of his work and news of any upcoming exhibitions. [Toronto TIME]