Cities That Experienced An Enormous Transformation Over Last Century
Ever wonder how your city must have looked like 100 years ago? Every place has a history, and most of the world’s largest metropolises started out as much smaller towns. If you want to know what it takes to turn a ‘so-so’ city into an incredible one, you’re going to love looking through these mind-blowing photos of the ways that some of the world’s biggest cities have developed over the years.
Tokyo, Japan / 1953
Japan is an island made up of 47 prefectures, and the biggest one of them all is surely Tokyo. The city is part of the country’s main island, which is called Honshu, but also includes the Izy and Ogasawara Island surrounds. In the 1950s, Tokyo’s growth really started to take off because of the growth in the country’s economy after the Second World War, which had been devastating for Japan, and especially for Tokyo, which was heavily bombed.
Tokyo, Japan / Present
It’s incredible what time can do for a city, huh? After the war, many big finance companies moved their main business operations to Tokyo, and nowadays many of the world’s largest insurers and investors are based out of this Japanese hub. The population now stands at around 13 million, which is nearly three times the entire population of New Zealand.
London, England / 1920
The "Roaring 20s" was a time of self-indulgence and joy for the people of the English capital. After the second world war, women felt more freedom as most men were off at war. At the same time, America was starting a period called "The Great Depression."
London, England / Present
Today, London is home to a little over 9 million people. Although Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, she still needs permission from the Lord Mayor to get into London. How surprising is that? In 2014, London was visited by a whopping 16 million people, making it the most visited worldwide.
Berlin, Germany / 1945
After Germany fell in 1945, the city of Berlin was so run-down, sad, and full of scars that the world believed it would take at least a millennium for it to be rebuilt. The Second World War had totally devastated the city, and it would never be the same again.
Berlin, Germany / Present
As you can see, now the city has made a tremendous comeback, and it is home to over three and a half million people! The city is nine times larger than Paris and boasts some of the most significant technological breakthroughs worldwide. Its public transit system travels enough to circle the Earth nearly nine times a day, with almost half of it being underground.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil / 1930
In Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro means "January River." That's quite the poetic name! There are over 200 rivers that run through the city, so which river does it actually refer to? Well, none of them. Are you a fan of "samba" and would like to learn the dance? Be ready to enter the favelas, as most of the samba schools in Rio are situated there.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil / Present
Today, Rio De Janeiro has a population that is as high as some countries, as it is home to a whopping 16 million people! Rio is a vibrant city, with great things to see. Be careful to keep your belongings closeby though, and if you see people playing football on the beach, don't hesitate to join in!
Dehli, India / 1930
To say that Dehli is huge would be an understatement. Evidence of early settlements dates from 6th Century B.C.E., so you have some idea of how long it has been around. With a population of around 25 million, this enormous city basically contains the equivalent of the entire population of Australia. The British Government seized the city in the 1850s, but thankfully, the country gained independence in 1947.
Dehli, India / Present
Nowadays, this Northern Indian city is one of the largest in the whole country. The Central National Capital Region now includes satellite cities like Sonipat, Faridabad, and Ghaziabad, and it is the third-largest urban area in the world. Tokyo and Jakarta take first and second place respectively. It is the capital of India, and has quite clearly grown enormously since the 1930s!
Buenos Aires, Argentina / 1920
The name of this famous city means 'fair winds,' and it was founded in the 16th century. The current population is around 15 million, and its inhabitants enjoy one of the highest qualities of living out of all Latin American countries. In 1516, the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach the Rio de la Plata, and Pedro de Mendoza led one of the initial parties. However, Indigenous peoples already occupied the area, and they managed to scare the Spaniards off in the mid-1500s.
Buenos Aires, Argentina / Present
Goods from Buenos Aires were traded with Lima and Peru, but products would take a long time to arrive because Spanish ships kept being attacked by pirates. the British invaded in 1806, but it was the Spaniards that kicked out the invaders this time. Political instability would be a common theme throughout the modern history of the city. Despite this, it remains to be one of the most-visited cities in all Latin America, and with views like this, you can see why.
Mexico City, Mexico / 1900s
Do you think New York takes the title for the most populous city in North America? Think again. Mexico City is the largest Spanish-speaking metropolitan area in the whole world, and is also one of the oldest capital cities in the Americas. Originally built in 1325 by the Aztecs, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés took the city by violent force in a series of battles throughout the 1500s. While the Aztecs put up a good fight, Cortés ultimately took over and renamed the city from ‘Tenochtitlan’ to Mexico.
Mexico City, Mexico / Present
From 1900 the city expanded onwards, and then upwards in the 1950s when the first skyscraper was built. The growth was so rapid that the government had trouble dealing with the strain it placed on the city's resources. In the 1980s, Mexico City was hit by a huge earthquake, and the disorganization of the government at the time eventually gave way to a more democratic politics.
Paris, France / 1930
Ahh, Paris. This major European city is one of the major cultural centers of the world, which means that it attracts a number of tourists every year. They come in their millions to see the Louvre, the Picasso and Rodin museums, and Notre Dame, which recently suffered fire damage. The current population is around 2 million, which might sound small, but they are all crammed into 105 square kilometers.
Paris, France / Present
Something that you may not know is that the name of this city is actually from the Celtic Parisii tribe. It is known as the City of Light. The latter is because of the Parisian cultural domination of the Enlightenment Era, and because the city was literally illuminated by over 50,000 gas lamps in the 1860s. Paris is also known as the City of Love, which is probably why so many people name their children after the famous metropolis!
Seoul, South Korea / 1900
South Korea has gone through bad times after the Korean war that destroyed their region in the 1950s. In this photo from the 1900s, you can see how tiny and empty it was. Since then, the country has gone through a tremendous transformation, and you would be shocked to see what it has become today!
Seoul, South Korea / Present
Today, the South Korean capital's official name is Seoul Special Metropolitan City. It is the 5th most populated city in the world, with approximately 10 million residents as of January 2017. The capital area has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
Fortaleza, Brazil / 1970
Fortaleza is the fifth-largest city in Brazil and has a rich history dating all the way back to the year 1500 AD. The city was discovered in February of that year by Spanish Explorer Vicente Yánez Pinzón who landed on the coast of Mucuripe, naming this new land "Santa Maria de la Consolacion."
Fortaleza, Brazil / Present
Today, Fortaleza is popular for its urban beaches, and the gorgeous Praia Do Futuro beach is on every tourist's list. Although the beach is only about ten minutes away from the famous Beira Mar Avenue, it is still advised to catch a taxi as it's a bit out of the way.
Los Angeles, United States / 1940
When it comes to the entertainment business, surprisingly, LA was as competitive in the 40s as it is today. However, in regards to high skylines and bustling roads, things were not the same. At the time, the city was only home to one million five hundred and four thousand people. Today, it has grown tremendously, and it is home to more than 4 million residents. Sometimes, these 4 million feel like 100 million!
Los Angeles, United States / Today
Back when it was first founded, LA's full name was "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles Sobre el Rio Porciuncula." If you are not familiar with Spanish, that means "The town of our lady queen of the angels on the Porciuncula River." Fun fact about LA - the Dodger stadium sits right on top where oil was first discovered in the city, way back in 1892!
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / 1920
In the year 1920, Kuala Lumpur was home to only 200,000 people! Since then, the city has gone through a massive change, and as of 2019, it contains as many people as New York, with seven million people!
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / Present
Kuala Lumpur is famously nicknamed KL, and people who call it their home are known as "KLites." Tourists visiting the city will want to make sure to visit the Petronas Towers. Oh, and make sure you check your calendar because you don't want to be there during the winter rainy season as the city goes through major flooding.
Istanbul, Turkey / 1900
Surprisingly, although the city was controlled by the Ottoman Empire back then, it still looked like the way it does today. In the 1900s, Istanbul was home to less than half a million people. That is one aspect of the city has that definitely changed, though.
Istanbul, Turkey / Present
Today, Istanbul is home to nearly 15 million people! It is unique for being a city located on two different continents, Europe and Asia. It has a total of 3,113 mosques, with one of the most prominent being the Hagia Sophia, which you can see on the right in the photo. It is one of the biggest mosques in the entire world!
Vilnius, Lithuania / 1900
Lithuania is a tiny country, and the city of Vilnius is even smaller. Way back in the 1900s, it was even teenier still! The city has one of the most extensive survival medieval quarters in Europe, with buildings almost 2,000 years old in an area called the "Old Town," which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Vilnius, Lithuania / Present
Today, Vilnius is a city populated with more than half a million people. The town stays alive thanks to tourism, as many people go to the city to visit the beautiful cathedrals, museums, eat good food, and go on lovely walks around the city.