Some pretty impressive city skyline transformations – in GIF form!

By City Monitor Staff

By now, we’re all pretty used to the idea that most cities have spent the past century sprouting giant glass and steel structures – but we still respond with a degree of amazement when faced with the actual speed of transformation in cities over very short periods of time. Where did the money come from? How was there enough concrete? Were there animals that had a particularly long nap and woke up to find their homes tarmacked over? 

We can’t answer all these questions – but what we can do is offer the following gifs of enormously tall buildings appearing, as if by magic, on bits of marshland and desert. Enjoy. 

Shanghai, 1990-2010

By 1990, international companies were clamouring for office blocks in Shanghai as China’s economy took off, but the city was already pretty full. So the city concreted over a swathe of marshy land and houses across the Huangpu River, and packed the resulting district, Pudong, full of oddly-shaped skyscrapers:

Images: Skyscraper City via Rolf Winkler.

Dubai, 1990-2007

The residents in those blocks of flats are probably pretty annoyed that their view has been ruined:

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Images: Exif at Fotothing. 

Toronto, 2000-2012

A waterfront park? Perfect, we will build all our offices on it.

Images: Toronto’s Planning & Growth Management Committee (h/t blogTO)


Doha, 1995-2013

Doha was once a fishing village. Then it developed an oil and gas-based economy, and this happened:

Image: CTBUH. 

Nine of the city’s 10 tallest buildings have happened since 2006. 

New York, 1876-2013

The original concrete jungle. So many skyscrapers. So little daylight. 

Images: Urban Peek.

London, 1900-2005

And, finally, London has managed to install a few quirky-looking structures behind the Tower of London. It’s no Doha, but it’ll do.

Images:History Press.

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