Civilizations rise and cities fall, but the time it takes softens the sense of change – except in rare cases in which we are confronted with both visions at the same time – as in the fictional reconstruction of Manhattan Island, past and present, shown above. Some photographers, however, have captured entirely real images from the same locations prior to a war, following a devastating disaster, or before and after a radical reconstruction project. For places in the world like Haiti facing the former, there remains a great deal of hope in the latter.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

Past Destruction & Disaster: Many may think of Afghanistan as a war-torn wasteland, a desert nation utterly unlike the Western World. This revealing image shows vividly just how different the place truly was just four short decades ago. Where once there were all the architectural trappings of contemporary civilization as we know it there are now only overgrown weeds, broken stone blocks and a dusty gravel road.


Present Reconstruction & Rebirth: But all is not lost – there are remarkable tales of transition that run in exactly the opposite direction, such as the rebuilding of Europe following the Second World War. Pictured above are London, Warsaw and Dresden (from top to bottom) as seen directly following the conflict and much more recently – one would never known from the new photos that these places had seen such incredible strife. They’re completely transformed.


Future Buildings & Cities: What a difference a day makes – or in some cases a decade. Dubai may have grown too fast, its economy buckling under its own weight, but the development has nonetheless been fascinating for all of us watching from the outside. It is stunning how quickly a desert erupted into a luxury city – but will it remain that way or fade back into the dust? We shall see. (via Oobject)