How do places change and grow over time?

I GREW UP IN MARIETTA, Georgia near the Chattahoochee River. Like most places, there was a rich history to everything–the woods we played in, the stores where we bought our food, the roads we drove our cars and road our bikes on–although as is usually the case , it wasn’t something readily accessible or spoken about. They were just woods and roads and stores. Few people knew where their names came from or what their stories were.

Only now after having grown up and seen the place change over 30 years, do I realize how unique this particular corner of the world really is.

The following photo essay shows 21 iconic places with photos taken a century ago compared to present day. In some places, the changes have been dramatic. Others seem to have changed little at all. As you look through the photos, think about where you came from and how it’s changed in your lifetime, and over the last century.


Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China is the host of 2010 World Expo. Once a fishing and textiles town, it became a gateway for commerce and trade between the East and West. In 2005 it became the world's largest cargo port. Photos by stevechasmar and cuellar.


Giza pyramids, Egypt

The Giza Necropolis pierces the sky on the outskirts of Cairo. The three Great Pyramids have been photographed innumerable times making them a photographic icon. Photos by The New York Times photo archive and timkelley.


Mirror Lake, Yosemite

Carleton Watkins made the first famous photograph of Mirror Lake circa 1861. In it, one particularly tall conifer stands prominent against the sky between Mt. Watkins and Cloud's Rest, and in the near-perfect reflection on the lake's surface. Over the years, similar views have been made in a variety of visual media by such luminaries as Albert Bierstadt, Charles Weed, Eadweard Muybridge ("the father of cinema"), and Ansel Adams.In all but the fantastical painting by Bierstadt, there is that same tree, ever taller and more ragged as time wears on. Some things have changed. In 1910, the total number of visitors to Yosemite National Park was 13,182. A century later, the number had climbed to 3,737,472. The lake is now a dry meadow for most of the year, thanks to the quantity of sediment delivered annually by Tenaya Creek, and will soon disappear entirely.The lake is now accessible only on foot. A stone jetty, of sorts, has been built on the west shore of the lake to accommodate tripods. The tree, reports park archivist Linda Eade, is "probably a Ponderosa Pine." —David Page begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting [Photos by George Fiske and David Page]


Kabaa, Mecca

One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform Hajj, make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. During Hajj, millions of devotees walk the Kaaba, circling the cube seven times. Muslims across the globe pray towards one of the world's most sacred cities. Photos by Bless sins and omar_chatriwala .


Lhasa, Tibet

The birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism and the one-time residence of the displaced HH the 14th Dalai Lama, Lhasa sits in the cradle of the Himalayas at 11,450 ft. Although the Chinese occupation of Tibet has left Lhasa bereft of its God King and some would argue, its soul, many travelers are rightfully eager to look upon the white walls of the Potala Palace. Photos by public domain and rajarajaraja


Alexandria, Egypt

Founded by Alexander the Great to serve as a portal to the verdant Nile Valley, Alexandria remained Egypt's capital for nearly a thousand years. Today the port town is the second largest city in Egypt at 4 million. Photos by public domain and eutrophication&hypoxia.


Taj Mahal, India

When Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's favorite wife died he built a marble mausoleum that now stands as one of the new seven wonders of the world and one of the most photographed places on the globe. Photos by public domain and premasagar.


Lower east side, Manhattan, New York City

One of the most densely populated places, Manhattan has such rich culture and diversity that you have to see it for yourself to believe. public domain and heypatrick


Stockholm, Sweden

The well in the center of Stockholm was the original water source for the old town until it dried up in 1856. It was later relocated, but then brought back and is now connected to the city's municipal water supply. Just a few meters below the town square are the remains of cobblestones and poles which have been carbon dated back to 1066. Photos by Oscar Halldin and IK's World Trip.



Control of Jerusalem has changed throughout history, from Biblical days (King David, King Solomon) to the Arab Empire, to the Ottoman empire, with several other groups claiming control at certain times. In 1910, Jerusalem was still under control of the Ottomans, who surrendered it to the British in 1917. Throughout the 20s, 30s, and the post WWII, waves of Jewish immigrants began settling in Jerusalem, and after the UN approved plans for separate Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, a war for control of Jerusalem broke in 1948, with the British withdrawing from the area later that year. Afterwards, Jerusalem was divided in two halves, with the Old City (pictured above) annexed by Jordan. In 1967, Israeli forces took control of East Jerusalem and the Old City in the Six Day War. This led to the present day control of Jerusalem as part of modern day Israel.Photos by unknown and David Shankbone.


Pioneer Square, Seattle

Pioneer Square is the birthplace of Seattle and was once the epicenter of debauchery, filled with brothels and hash houses. Boom town and way point on the search for Yukon gold, Seattle has always seen its fair share of travelers. Photos by Seattle Municipal Archives and iwona_kellie.


Beijing, China

Few cities have endured as a seat of power for as long as Beijing. Photos by ralphrepo and Ben Burkland/Carolyn Cook.


Sydney, Australia

Sydney appears to have been inhabited by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years. In 1788 the first fleet of ships to establish the penal colony of English convicts landed in what is now called Sydney, and began exploring the massive continent. Photos by State Records NSW and dicktay2000.


The Great Wall of China

Supposedly over a million people died during the construction of the first 3,000 mile section of China's Great Wall. It remains one of the world's most iconic sites. Photos by Herbert Ponting and d'n'c.


Bøyabreen Glacier, Norway

Like most glaciers, Bøyabreen is steadily receding. Now is the time to visit some of the world's great ice sheets before they vanish completely. The diminishing glaciers have caught he attention of the world and have spawned a new breed of tourism in the face of a warming planet. Photos by Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og Fjordane and Trondelarius.


Pisa, Italy

From 1173 on, the leaning tower of Pisa has been tilting southwest. In a country filled with beautiful architecture, Pisa's famous bell tower may have been overlooked by travelers were it not for the signature construction flaw. Photos by Brooklyn Museum and manelzaera.


Tower Bridge, London

Straddling the river Thames, London's Tower Bridge is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world. Completed in 1894 the tower bridge provides thousands of shutterbugs with a regal subject. Photos by Library of Congress and dirac3000.


Montreal, Canada

The second largest city in Canada and one of the five biggest French speaking cities in the world, Montreal has a reputation for cleanliness and culture. After New York, Montreal has the highest number of restaurants, per capita, in North America.Photos by Zanastardust and lynch.


Dublin, Ireland

Established by the Norse around 841, Dublin has endured the centuries and is now a tourist hot spot and the birth place of that delicious black brew, Guinness. Photos by Michiel2005 and Jacobo Tarrío.


Vienna, Austria

In 2005 Vienna tied with Vancouver for first in an Economist Intelligence Unit study of the quality of life 127 world cities. Photos by Michiel2005 and Jen SFO-BCN


Parc Monceau, Paris, France

The landing site of the first silk parachute jump, Parc Monceau has an interesting and sometimes bloody history. In 1871 the park saw the massacre of Communards at the hands of the Versailles troops and in 1876 Parc Monceau was painted by Monet. Photos by George Eastman House and darek rusin.