American Cities Before they Exploded

Have you ever wondered what our major cities looked like before they became the hubs of activity they're known for today? Every town has a history. And in many cases, it reveals a rich tapestry of events that combined at just the right time and place to create the opportunity for growth. Think of the history of Las Vegas before it was populated with casinos and branded sin city. The 110-acres of land in the desert was auctioned off by a railroad company. Its position between Salt Lake City and southern California made it the perfect stopping point for travelers between the two. The first casino didn't come along until the 1950's. Many more of the same came along, and, well, modern Las Vegas was born.

We can learn a lot from observing the past of today's bigger cities. One thing we can learn is the impact of the unknown. Think of the Boston fire of 1872, or the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. These events forever changed the landscape of the cities they struck permanently. Detroit, a once-bustling city that was at the center of the country's auto manufacturing business, also has a lesson to teach us. Success doesn't last forever. Things happen that can turn even the busiest cities into veritable ghost towns. Here are some images from the past of some of America's biggest cities, taken before anyone knew just how important they would become.


Article WriterNathan

Let us introduce you to the Listicle Liege, the Article Aficionado, the one and only Nathan. Since creating his first photo collage at the age of five with images clipped from his mom’s Chatelaine magazines (all of them), it’s been nearly impossible to stem this one’s tide of visual learning. Be it the annals of history or the latest celeb gossip, Nathan has probably researched it, likely already has a folder of relevant photos on his desktop, and definitely learned a lot of interesting facts to go with those images. Whereas most well-read adults have bookshelves full of classic literature, Nathan’s stacks are composed of National Geographic and TIME special editions and a curated section of first-grade readers (for inspiration). If you prefer picture books to wordy novels, listicles by Nathan are right up your alley.

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