National Mall from the Washington Monument

The National Mall, looking toward the Capitol Building, as seen from the Washington Monument between 1906 and 1915:

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The same view in 2006:

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Again, the view isn’t exact – the 2006 photo is zoomed in a little further than the original photo, but it captures much the same area, including the Capitol, the Smithsonian Castle, and the Museum of Natural History.  The Library of Congress is also barely visible behind and to the right of the Capitol, although the Supreme Court Building is notably missing from the first photo – it wouldn’t be built until 1935. The National Mall, though, didn’t have the same carefully-manicured appearance in the early 1900’s as it does today – at the time, it was very much a work in process.

Looking northeast from the Washington Monument

The view looking northeast from the top of the Washington Monument, between 1906 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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A similar (although not quite exact) view from 2006:

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The two photos don’t quite line up perfectly, but since I took the present-day photo over seven years ago without having the older one in mind, I would say I came pretty close.  The early 20th century photo, though, shows the view of DC a little further to the right than what I actually took in 2006.  Still, though, there are a few landmarks visible in both – in particular, the Old Post Office Pavilion located on the far right of the 2006 photo.  Otherwise, much has changed – the low-rise buildings in the foreground were replaced by the massive present-day government buildings that were built in the 1930’s, and currently house the US Department of Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency.

White House from the Washington Monument

The view of the White House, as seen from the top of the Washington Monument between 1906 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Aerial Views

The same view in 2006:

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Unlike the view looking slightly northwest of here, there have not been many dramatic changes in this photo. The White House is there, as are the two wings (although both the main building and the wings have been extensively gutted and remodeled in the intervening century), and the Old Executive Office Building (left of the White House) and the Treasury Building (right of the White House) are still there, as are the landscaping features such as the Ellipse in the foreground.  Otherwise, the appearance of the city, given skyscrapers are not permitted, remains much the same as it did 100 years ago.

Looking northwest from the Washington Monument

The view from the top of the Washington Monument, taken between 1906 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in February, 2006:

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Both photos are taken looking almost directly down Virginia Ave., but other than the street network, not much remains from the early 1900s photo.  As least two buildings are identifiable in both: the white building in the lower right, and the building to the right of it (which is barely visible in the first photo).  They are the Organization of American States and the Daughters of the American Revolution buildings, respectively.  Otherwise, the area looks remarkably sparse in the first photo, primarily because most of the land in the foreground did not exist before the 1880s, when the Potomac River was dredged, and the dredged material used to fill in this area to address flooding issues.  The Constitution Gardens, visible in the lower left of the 2006 photo, would not exist for another 70 years.  Shortly after the first photo was taken, the Navy built temporary offices during World War I.  These “temporary” offices lasted into the 1970s, when they were demolished to create the pond and parkland visible today.

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.