Times Square Building, New York

The Times Square Building, as it appeared in 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in October, 2010:

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When the building was first built, it was the headquarters for the New York Times, hence the name Times Square. Prior to then, it was known as Longacre Square. The Times only kept their headquarters there until 1913 though, and used the building as a branch office until they sold it in 1961. In 1963, Allied Chemical bought the building and extensively modified its exterior. They sold it in 1996, at which point it was decided it would not be economically feasible to upgrade the interior, since the narrow building had such small floors. So, instead of renting the interior, the owners decided to rent the exterior, by adding 26 billboards that cover almost the entire building and bring in more money than renting the office space inside would.

Today, the building, which was once the second tallest in the city, and once towered over Times Square, is now dwarfed by taller buildings on virtually every side, including the 47-story Times Square Tower directly behind it, and the Condé Nast Building, visible on the left-hand side of the picture. However, it retains its place as a central part of Times Square, even if it is literally just a shell of its former self.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

The Brooklyn Bridge from the south, as it appeared around 1904. The towers of the Williamsburg Bridge are barely visible in the distance. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in February, 2012:

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The Brooklyn Bridge hasn’t changed much in the past 108 years, but its surroundings have.  In addition to the Manhattan Bridge behind it, the skyline of the Lower East Side has also substantially changed, with high-rises covering much of the shoreline in this area.

Lower Manhattan

The view of Lower Manhattan in 1900, as seen from the water looking towards the Staten Island ferry terminal. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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A very similar view, taken in 2012:

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The angles here aren’t perfect: the first photo was taken a little closer to Manhattan and a little further to the east of where this one was taken – the ferry terminals on the right hand side of the 2012 photo are (as far as I can tell) in the same spot as the foreground of the 1900 photo. Still, the two photos capture the same general idea – that Lower Manhattan has changed a lot in the past 100+ years.  One of the challenges in identifying exactly what view the 1900 picture shows is that I cannot identify a single building that still exists today.  Several notable buildings are visible, such as the Manhattan Life Insurance Building (the tall tower in the distance, almost in the exact center of the photo), which is roughly in the same spot as 1 Wall Street, a rather unassuming light brown tower visible on the left-hand side of the 2012 photo.

Massachusetts State House, Boston

The Massachusetts State House, as it appeared around 1899. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Its appearance 114 years later, in March 2013:

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The front appearance of the State House is more or less the same as it appeared when it was completed in 1798, although several major additions have changed the other three sides of the building.  One of the additions, completed in 1895, was directly behind the original 1798 structure, and isn’t visible from this angle.  The other additions, the two wings on the left and the right that appear in the 2013 building, were not built until 1917.

King’s Chapel, Boston

King’s Chapel in Boston, as seen between 1900 and 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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King’s Chapel in March 2013:

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Not much about the church itself has changed, although most of its surroundings have.  The King’s Chapel Burying Ground is still to the left, and the top of the old Boston City Hall is visible just above the roof of the church.  The church was built on the site of a previous, wooden church, which had been built in 1688.  When King’s Chapel was built in the early 1750s, it was literally built around it, and when it was completed, the 1688 church was dismantled and removed through the windows.

Old State House, Boston

The view of the 1713 Old State House in Boston, as it appeared around 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The building in 1875, decorated to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The Old State House around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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Around 1906, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The Old State House in 2013:

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Today, the Old State House is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers, although the building to the left has survived to this day.  The building was the capitol of the colony of Massachusetts, and later the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the Revolution until 1798, when it was replaced by the current State House.  It was used as Boston’s city hall from 1830 to 1841, and was preserved and restored in 1881.  Both before and after its use as a city hall, it was used for commercial offices and shops, as seen in the 1860 photo.

Aside from the Old State House, almost everything else has changed in the past 150+ years; over time, nearly all of the buildings in the historic photos have been demolished to create the Financial District in the heart of Downtown Boston that we know today.

One interesting quirk about the building that appears in the last two photos is the doorway on the right hand side next to the corner.  When the State Street subway station was built in 1904, the entrance was built right into the basement of the Old State House.