Samuel Hartwell House, Lincoln, Mass.

The Samuel Hartwell House, in Lincoln, Mass, in 1961. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey Collection.


The scene in 2013:


Located along the Battle Road in the Minuteman National Historical Park, the Samuel Hartwell House was buit in the 1700’s, and was occupied by Samuel Hartwell during the battles of Lexington and Concord, when the British forces marched to and from Concord past the house.  The house was used as a restaurant from 1929 until 1968, when it burned.  All that remained was the central chimney and the cellarhole; the National Park Service later built the frame and roof in the style of the original building.

Grand Central Terminal, New York

Grand Central Depot in 1871. Image courtesy of New York Public Library.


The newly reconstructed Grand Central Station around 1900. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The present-day Grand Central Terminal in 2019:

The three photos show the three different versions of the railroad station on 42nd Street.  Originally built in 1871 and named Grand Central Depot, it was a joint effort between three New York railroads, hence the term “grand central.”  It was extensively rebuilt from 1899 to 1900, as shown in the second photo, but it didn’t last for long.  Starting in 1903, it was demolished in stages and replaced with the current structure, which was completed in 1913.  This building itself was threatened in the 1960s – it was designed to be able to support the weight of a tower above it, and several proposals were considered, one of which would have kept the original structure, while stripping it of most of its historic significance. Ultimately, the city declared the building a landmark, thus preventing it from being altered or demolished.


Cy Young at Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston

Cy Young, warming up at Boston’s Huntington Avenue Grounds in 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.


The scene in 2014:


Finding the precise location of this photo is tricky, since nothing in the 1908 photo still exists.  The top photo was taken of Cy Young, the winningest pitcher in baseball history, during his last year with the Red Sox.  At the time, the Sox played a few blocks south of what would become Fenway Park, at the Huntington Avenue Grounds.

The site of the field is today part of the Northeastern University campus, and in this courtyard is a tribute to Cy Young and the old baseball field.  In the foreground is a granite home plate marker, and 60 feet away in the distance is a statue of Cy Young.  The Cy Young statue is on the approximate location of the pitcher’s mound (which can be seen behind and to the left of Cy Young in the 1908 photo), but home plate would have actually been further to the right of where the 2014 photo was taken (which is now a building).

Because of that, it is likely that the 2014 photo was taken from approximately the same location, looking in roughly the same direction, as the 1908 photo, although the lack of any landmarks makes it difficult to be exact.

Robbins Reef Light, New York Harbor

Robbins Reef Light in New York Harbor, in 1951. Photo courtesy of United States Coast Guard.


The lighthouse in 2012:


Built in 1883 to replace an earlier structure, Robbins Reef Light is situated in New York Harbor, near the route of the Staten Island Ferry, which is where the second photo was taken.  Now deactivated, the lighthouse has clearly seen better days, especially when compared to the 1951 photo.  However, in 2011 it was sold to a museum in order to preserve the historic lighthouse.

Empire State Building (6)

The view of the upper east side of Manhattan from the top of the Empire State Building in 1932. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Gottscho-Schleisner Collection.

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The same view in 2011:


Quite a lot has changed in the Manhattan skyline since 1932 – the two photos show the contrast between the early 20th century skyscrapers, which were mandated to have step-like setbacks, and the sleek, box-like modern skyscrapers of 2011.  However, many of the old skyscrapers survive today, especially in the foreground.  The most prominent in the 1932 picture, the Chrysler Building, is still easily seen from the Empire State Building today, although today it is more its distinctive spire, rather than its height alone, that sets it apart from the rest.

Empire State Building (5)

The view looking west from the Empire State Building in 1951. Photo courtesy of New York Public Library.


The scene in 2011:


There hasn’t been an incredible amount of change in the past 60 years in this small wedge of Manhattan, but one notable building that no longer exists is Penn Station, seen in the upper left of the 1951 photo.  The above-ground part of the historic station was demolished in 1963 and replaced with Madison Square Garden, which is barely visible in the 2011 photo – the round building immediately to the left of the tall black skyscraper.