20 Cities That Went Through Crazy Transformations

Developing a city to become a modern metropolis is not simple, and it takes much more than merely having a good city planner. It takes a strong economy, as well as people that are proud of their city and that want to make it grow. We have listed what we believe are the top 40 city transformations ever. You would be shocked to see how tiny some of them were when they first started developing.

Dubai 2000

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Dubai has been snowballing since the year 2000. It is a city part of the United Arab Emirates, and its extreme wealth makes it one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. If you compare what it looks like now versus what it looked like in 2000, it is pretty hard to believe.

Dubai Now

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Look at what oil money can do in only 19 years! The famous Burj Al Arab hotel in the city has enough gold to cover the Mona Lisa 46,265 times. Also, Dubai is home to an artificial island called the Palm Island that contains enough sand to fill up two Empire State buildings. The city never stops constructing, so it is not surprising that they use a quarter of all the world's cranes.

Seoul 1900

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

South Korea has gone through bad times after the Korean war destroyed their region in the 1950s. In this photo from the 1900s, you can see how tiny and empty it was. Since then, the country has gone through a tremendous transformation, and you would be shocked to see what it has become today!

Seoul Now

Today, the South Korean capital's official name is Seoul Special Metropolitan City. It is the 5th most populated city in the world, with approximately 10 million residents as of January 2017. The capital area has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Vilnius 1900

Lithuania is a tiny country, and the city of Vilnius is even smaller, and way back in the 1900s, it was tiny! The city has one of the most extensive survival medieval quarters in Europe, with buildings almost 2,000 years old in an area called the "Old Town," which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Vilnius Now

Today, Vilnius is a city populated with more than half a million people. The town stays alive thanks to tourism, as many people go to the city to visit beautiful cathedrals, museums, eat good food, and go on lovely walks around the city.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Abu Dhabi 1970

In the 1970s, Abu Dhabi was in bad shape, and it was more of a Bedouin village than an actual city. Twenty years earlier, in the 1950s, Abu Dhabi was home to only 70,000 people. This number grew in the 1970s due to many immigrant workers who were brought to the city to build the town and make it more modern.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Abu Dhabi Now

Today, Abu Dhabi is home to 2 million people. That is quite the growth when you consider the fact that the emirate was basically a village just 70 years ago. That's the power of oil money! Today, Abu Dhabi has beautiful beaches, an island, and a gorgeous skyline.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Dubai 2005

Situated on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the city in the United Arab Emirates with the highest population. It could be described as a cosmopolitan oasis containing beautiful architecture and a luxurious lifestyle. If you look carefully, you will see that Dubai is a city shared by many cultures around the world, with a futuristic vision, but also profound traditions and customs. Also, it is the cultural hub of the area.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Dubai Now

Today, Dubai contains over 200 skyscrapers. It is also home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa standing at 828 m, with 163 floors. The building also has the world's highest restaurant, highest mosque, highest discotheque, as well as the highest observatory deck.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Rio De Janeiro 1930

In Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro means "January River." That's quite the poetic name! There are over 200 rivers that run through the city, so which river does it actually refer to? Well, none of them. Are you a fan of "samba" and would like to learn the dance? Be ready to enter the favelas, as most of the samba schools in Rio are situated in them.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Rio De Janeiro Now

Today, Rio De Janeiro has a population that is as high as some countries, as it is home to a whopping 16 million people! Rio is a city full of alive, with great things to see. Be careful to keep your belongings closeby though, and if you see people playing football on the beach, don't hesitate to join in!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Sydney 1932

In 1932, Sydney was home to just over one million people. However, at the time, it was already a growing city. After WWII, cities like Sydney started to flourish, thanks to globalism and immigration from different places around the world.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Sydney Now

Today, Sydney is home to over 5 million people. Many people who visit the city go to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a famous landmark that is nicknamed "The Coat Hanger." It is renowned for being the tallest steel arch bridge and the widest-long span bridge in the entire world. So, it is quite strange that the person who designed the famous building only won £5,000 to design the whole building. 

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Shenzen 1964

In the 1960s, Shenzen was home to only a few thousand people! Today, it contains over 12 million people! In the 60s, it was merely a small market town situated on the route of the Kowloon-Canton Railway, with around only 30,000 people. It was only in 1979 that it became an actual city, and in 1980, it was declared China's very first Special Economic Zone.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Shenzen Now

Today, Shenzen is the world's biggest manufacturing hub and the richest city in China. Its GDP is the highest between all cities in China, with its average income being more than 50 percent higher than that of other cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Fortaleza 1975

Fortaleza is the fifth-largest city in Brazil and has a rich history dating all the way back to the year 1500 AD. The city was discovered in February of that year by Spanish Explorer Vicente Yánez Pinzón who landed on the coast of Mucuripe, naming this new land "Santa Maria de la Consolacion."

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Fortaleza Now

Today, Fortaleza is popular for its urban beaches, and the gorgeous Praia Do Futuro beach is on every tourist's list. Although the beach is only about ten minutes away from the famous Beira Mar Avenue, it is still advised to catch a taxi as it's a bit out of the way.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Bangkok 1988 

Thanks to its fantastic nightlight scene at Khaosan Road and Patpong, as well as the beautiful Grand Palace and Buddhist temples have made this city a major tourist attraction. According to Mastercard's Global Destination Cities Index, Bangkok is the world's most visited city for travel and leisure. When looking at this photo, you can't tell. Just wait to see how it transformed!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Bangkok Now

The city of Bangkok is lovingly called the "Venice of the East" due to its bustling nightlife scene. And because it contains many canals, just like the city of Venice in Italy. Also, some call it the 'City of Angles' because of how passionate it is in regards to city planning.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Athens 1862

In the 1800s, Athens was home to fewer than half a million people. After the second world war, this number began to grow, with a 3 percent growth rate on average every five years between 1955 to 1965. Today, the population is slightly dropping, and it is home to 3,154,152 people.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Athens Now

Approximately 17.5 million people visit Greece each year, which is more than the country's entire population. To deal with the vast number of arrivals, the country has one of the most international airports in any country, with the most important one located in the capital, Athens.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Toronto 1930

In 1930, Toronto was home to a little over 600,00 people. Today, it is the fifth biggest city in America, with over 6 million residents. Back in the 1700s, the city was simply called "York," and it was only renamed to Toronto in 1834.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Toronto Now

The Stock Exchange in the city of Toronto is the third biggest one in North America and the seventh-largest worldwide. Also, the city is ranked the twelfth most economically powerful city in the world. This ranking is based on economic output, innovation, global economic power score, as well as its financial center score.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Berlin 1945

After Germany famously fell in 1945, the city of Berlin was so run-down, sad, and full of scars that the world believed it would take at least a millennium to be rebuilt, primarily due to the fact that the city was split to the Soviet Union, who was not exactly giving its people a great life.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Berlin 1990s 

As you can see, today, the city has made a tremendous comeback, and it is home to over three and a half million people! The city is nine times larger than Paris and boasts some of the most significant technological breakthroughs worldwide. Its public transports system travels enough to circle the Earth nearly nine times a day, with almost half of it being underground.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Jakarta 1960

Unlike many of us think, Jakarta is not officially a city, but rather a province. However, it is still the capital of the Republic of Indonesia. Before the second world war, it was colonized by the Dutch, which is why you can still see some Dutch influence on the city. For example, the Dutch cannons can be seen in Jakarta, located in the old town, where they stand proudly.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Jakarta Now

People in Jakarta are crazy about shopping. In fact, they are so crazy about it that their malls are open 24/7! In the city, there are around 130 shopping malls. But that's not all; Jakarta is also home to 76 coral islands which are great for diving or snorkeling. There is a wide variety of fish - 144 different species, to be exact.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Melbourne 1920

In the 1920s, Melbourne was home to only around 100,000 people. It must have been great to live there back in those times, as today, the city was much more crowded than anyone at the time could have imagined! At the time, Australia itself was home to only 5.44 million people!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Melbourne Now

Today, Melbourne has around the same amount of people as Australia did back in the 1920s, with 4,44 million people. Today, Australia is home to 25 million people, and it is continuously growing! Australians love the beach; in fact, more than 90% of them live on the coast!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

London 1920

The "Roaring 20s" was a time of self-indulgence and joy for the people of the English capital. After the second world war, women felt more freedom as most men were off at war. At the same time, America was starting a period called "The Great Depression."

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

London Now

Today, London is home to a little over 9 million people. Although Queen Elizabeth 2 is the head of state, she still needs permission from the Lord Mayor to get into London. How surprising is that? In 2014, London was visited by a whopping 16 million people, making it the most visited worldwide.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Istanbul 1905

Surprisingly, although the city was controlled by the Ottoman Empire back then, it still looked like it does today. In the 1900s, Istanbul was home to less than half a million people. That is one aspect of the city has that definitely changed, though.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Istanbul Now

Today, Istanbul is home to nearly 15 million people! It is unique for being a city that is in two different continents, Europe and Asia. It has a total of 3,113 mosques, with one of the most prominent being the Hagia Sophia, which you can see on the right in the photo. It is one of the biggest mosques in the entire world!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

New York 1962

New York City was actually famous for being quite a bleak place for most of its life cycle. Up until the year 2000, its crime was one of the highest in the world, and substance abuse was rampant. At the time, its population was extremely high compared to other cities, as it already had 7 million residents in the 60s. Guess how populated it is today?

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

New York Now

Today, New York is home to more than eight and a half million people. There are tons of restaurants to dine in, as well as great selfie spots and interesting museums to spend a day in. Tourists love to visit Elis Island and take a boat to see the Statue of Liberty. Oh, and if you really want to get in the tourist vibe, don't forget the "I Love NY" t-shirt!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Kuala Lumpur 1920

In the year 1920, Kuala Lumpur was home to only 200,000 people! Since then, the city has gone through a massive change, and as of 2019, it contains as many people as New York, with seven million people!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Kuala Lumpur Now

Kuala Lumpur is famously nicknamed KL, and people who call it their home are known as "KLites." Tourists visiting the city will want to make sure to visit the Petronas Towers. Oh, and make sure you check your calendar because you don't want to be there during the winter rainy season as the city goes through major flooding.

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Los Angeles 1940

When it comes to the entertainment business, surprisingly, LA was as competitive in the 40s as it is today. However, in regards to high skylines and bustling roads, things were not the same. At the time, the city was only home to one million five hundred and four thousand people. Today, it has grown tremendously, and it is home to more than 4 million residents. Sometimes, these 4 million feel like 100 million!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Los Angeles Now

Back when it was first founded, LA's full name was "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles Sobre el Rio Porciuncula." If you are not familiar with Spanish, that means "The town of our lady queen of the angels on the Porciuncula River." Fun fact about LA - the Dodger stadium sits right on top where oil was first discovered in the city, way back in 1892!

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

Image Credits: Historybyday.com

When LA was founded, the city’s full name was “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles Sobre el Rio Porciuncula.” (if you don’t know Spanish), that translates to “The town of our lady queen of the angels on the Porciuncula River.” Oh, and you know Dodger Stadium sits atop where oil was first discovered in LA in 1892!

Source: Historybyday.com