Forget clocks and watches – overlapping present images with historic photographs is perhaps the most stunning and illuminating way to see what a difference a day (or week or month or year or decade) really makes. In some cases very little changes, but in other images you can see just how much can shift over a short period of time – from demolished structures and reconstructed buildings to entirely-altered streets and waterways.
Slow Change: These first examples show relatively little evolution in the urban surroundings – a light post, some architectural decor, signs and so forth may have been swapped out but the building remain. Still, even in these relatively simple examples the ‘real time’ experience of seeing into history is sublime.
Quick Change: A shifting waterline, the presence of a car or person, and suddenly you can see just how different the scene really is from one snapshot to the next – the objects in these images seem out of place and time to us viewing them today.
Drastic Change: And then there are the absent, abandoned and demolished buildings of the past held only in memory – these provide a sharp and vivid contrast to the surrounding images in each of these photos. Some lots are left bare while in other cases new buildings have replaced the old.
Good Change: And then their are the surprising reversals – strange cases in which the architecture has been improved with time, people having recognized the value of aged buildings and successfully engaged in renovations and remodels making them better than they were in the historic pictures.
Changing Change: Only time will tell, but I would like to think that at some point in the future someone will add another layer to this process by literally overlapping yet a third photograph onto each scene, taking a fresh snapshot that further tells the passing of time.