Some of the world’s most iconic skylines are photographed so often that it’s almost impossible to imagine them looking any different than they do now. But even New York City, Hong Kong and London have been altered over the decades. The changes were spurred by economic success (or lack thereof), major historic events, population growth or shifting cultures.

For some places, the “then” in the “then and now” equation was only a few decades ago. Many of London’s most visible modern landmarks, for example, are less than 20 years old. Other places have a mixture of buildings, creating an architectural timeline that offers a visual story of the city’s history.

Here are 10 cities where you can see dramatic differences and surprisingly similarities between “then” and “now.”

Hong Kong

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THEN: Hong Kong’s skyscraper boom had not yet started in the 1960s. NOW: Hong Kong Island now has a forest-like collection of high-rises.

Hong Kong is often referred to in the same breath as New York City when it comes to iconic skylines and skyscrapers. The territory has more than 300 buildings that are 500 feet or taller. Hong Kong is just as recognizable for its natural elements, including mountains that rise up behind the most densely built-up areas on Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong looked very different in the 1960s. Though high-rises were starting to pop up in what was then a British territory, the skyline looked nothing like it does today.Building booms in the 1970s and again in the late ‘90s and early 2000s gave Hong Kong its current landscape. Interestingly, it was geography more than anything else that caused the skyscraper renaissance. Because of the mountains and the harbor, land space is limited. Hong Kong now has more people living above the 15th floor of residential buildings than any other place on Earth.

 

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