Hampshire County Courthouse, Northampton

The Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton, Mass., around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same building in 2014:

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The Hampshire County Courthouse hasn’t changed much since 1904, nor has it changed much since it was completed in 1886.  It bears strong resemblance to the Hampden County Courthouse that was built about 12 years earlier, and unlike that building, this one retains its top floor and its dormers adjacent to the tower.  Around the time that the earlier photo was taken, the Clerk of Courts was a local attorney and former City Council member named Calvin Coolidge, who would eventually go on to work a much more notable job in a much larger and more prominent building.   One difference between 1904 and now, although not visible in the photo, is a statue of said former Clerk of Courts, now on the grounds of the courthouse.

First Church of Northampton

The First Church of Northampton, between 1900 and 1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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In 2014:

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Built in 1877, Northampton’s First Church hasn’t changed much, although its surroundings are different than they were a century ago.  Notice in particular the absence of trolley tracks or wires and the proliferation of cars.  Nearly three centuries and three church buildings ago, this was the home to one of America’s most prominent theologians, Jonathan Edwards, who was pastor of the Northampton church from 1727 to 1751, and who led the Great Awakening from his pulpit here.  The church building that he built in 1737 was replaced in 1812 by one designed by Isaac Damon, the same architect who designed Springfield’s Old First Church seven years later.  That building burned in 1876, and was replaced by the present structure the following year.

Old Man of the Mountain

The Old Man of the Mountain, between 1890 and 1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

New Hampshire

The same view in 2013:

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“Discovered” by surveyors in 1805, New Hampshire’s famous rock formation lasted for almost 200 more years, before collapsing in May 2003 as a result of centuries of freezing and thawing.  Concern over the figure’s eventual collapse began even before the first photo was taken.  Frederick Wilkinson Kilbourne wrote in Chronicles of the White Mountains in 1916 that “Professor Hitchcock’s fear, expressed more than forty years ago, that, owing to the friability of the granite of which the ledges are composed and its consequent rapid disintegration, the ledges might soon disappear, has so far not been realized”  Kilbourne went on to write, “Sad will be the day (may it never come!) when that marvel of Nature shall be marred or be no longer to be seen.”

Concerns about the stability of the rocks continued through the 20th century, and in 1958 steel rods and other equipment was used in an attempt to secure the rocks.  Several of the rods are still visible at the top of the cliff.  The Old Man of the Mountain also influenced the construction of Interstate 93 through Franconia Notch; the segment of highway is one of the few two-lane Interstate highways, and was built that way partially because of concerns that construction of a wider highway could damage the rock formation.  Regardless of these efforts, though, the rocks collapsed in May 2003.

Robert E. Lee Monument, New Orleans

Robert E. Lee Monument, New Orleans, about 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Louisiana

The same monument in 2009:

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In a bit of a departure from my usual northeast locations, I came across the c.1906 photo of the same statue that I photographed in 2009 while in New Orleans.  The subject, given that it’s the south, is Robert E. Lee, and the statue has been there since 1884.

North End, Boston

The view of the North End in Boston, from Boston Harbor, around 1930. Image courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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A similar view in 2006:

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The angle here isn’t perfect – the 1930’s photo is taken a little closer and a little further to the right of the 2006 one – but the same basic view is visible.  Many of the buildings in the North End are still there today, but the Boston skyline behind it has been completely changed – the once prominent Customs House Tower now blends in with the rest of the skyscrapers in downtown, although Old North Church in the foreground still stands out among the low-rises in the North End.

Paul Revere House, Boston

Paul Revere’s House in Boston, around 1898. Image courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The house in 2014:

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Built in 1680, Paul Revere’s house is the oldest building in downtown Boston, and was owned by Paul Revere from 1770 to 1800. He actually added a third floor, as seen in the 1898 photo, but shortly after the photo was taken, the house was purchased by one of Revere’s descendants and restored to its 1680 appearance. Despite all of the modifications, it is estimated that about 90% of the structure is original to 1680, which is impressive, considering how different it looks in the two photos.