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I have such a passion for studying vintage photographs and comparing them to the present. And to be honest, I almost always prefer the "then" photos over the "now". They seem much more interesting to me. 

I also have a passion for history. My favorite movies are documentaries and period films. I thoroughly enjoy seeing how people lived and dressed in the past. I believe that the past creates the present, which very often repeats itself when it comes to the design, style, and fashion of previous decades.  

When I was a kid, I loved looking at the photographs and illustrations in history books. As I got older, I would spend hours in a bookstore, flipping through black and white photography books depicting the past, imagining who all the people in the photos were and what their lives were like.

Last week I searched the internet for vintage photographs of Philadelphia and chose several locations throughout the city. I tried to take photos that would match (or almost match) each photograph I found online. Here is what I came up with.  

Please enjoy...  

Horn & Hardart Automat Cafeteria

 Then...


Now...


Automat cafeteria from a different view then...


Same view now...


Market Street Reading Terminal Train Station

Then...



Now (no longer a train station, it is a convention center and food market). The only thing that remains the same is the clock on the corner...



Elfreth's Alley (oldest street in Philadelphia)

Then...


Now...


Corner of 13th and Market Streets

Then (during the Christmas holidays)...


Now...


Second Bank of the United States

Then...


Now...


Independence Hall

Then...


Now...


And lastly, just for laughs. A "vintage" photo of me. 

Then (my afro and bushy eyebrows at 20 years old)...


Now (me and my dear friend, Kelly)...


P.S. This is one exception where I prefer the "now" over the "then" - LOL!


Thanks for taking this vintage tour of Philadelphia, folks! 💖


 

26 comments:

  1. Ron, I love this post because I too enjoy documentaries and period movies. Do you know what surprises me about so many of these photographs? The city looked more populated THEN than it does NOW. There were so many more people on the streets. Is Philly not that populated anymore?

    What a cool looking city. The photos of the Reading Terminal Train Station are incredible. I kept staring at the way everyone was dressed back then. And the automobiles!

    Fun and interesting post, Ron. It makes me want to look up vintage photos of my own town and compare them to what it looks like presently.

    That picture of you with your afro is priceless! xo

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  2. Morning, Candice!

    You know something? I thought the exact same thing. The city did look so much more populated back then. But no, Philly is not any less populated now. In fact, in the all the years living here, the population has grown more and more each year. But looking at the photographs that I took in comparison to the ones of "then", it does look much less populated. Particularly compared to the one of the Reading Terminal Train Station area.

    I know, don't you love looking at the way people dressed back then? To be honest, I think they they looked much better then, than now. Much more stylish.

    I think I look like Greg Brady from "The Brady Bunch" in that photo. LOL! So 70s!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Candice. Have a FAB day!

    X

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  3. I agree with you Ron, I think vintage photographs are much more interesting. I also love how they're in black and white (or sepia) because it makes them feel all the more vintage.

    You really captured a nice variety of locations. Don't you love how people back then where not use to cameras, so you often notice them looking into the camera as if it was something special? Nowadays, with cell phones, no one ever notices. All you ever see today are people taking SELFIES. LOL!

    You're right, the only remaining thing in those photographs is the clock on the street. And I'm impressed that it's still there. Does the city of Philadelphia try and preserve their historical buildings? Judging from these photo, it looks like it does.

    One of these days I will have to make a visit to your city. Afterall, it was America's capital for ten years, so it's got a lot of history.

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  4. "I also love how they're in black and white (or sepia) because it makes them feel all the more vintage."

    Me too, Daniel!

    "Don't you love how people back then where not use to cameras, so you often notice them looking into the camera as if it was something special? Nowadays, with cell phones, no one ever notices. All you ever see today are people taking SELFIES. LOL!"


    You got that right! Back then, people didn't have cameras like they do now. Imagine their response if someone told them in future years that people would all be carrying something called "a cell phone" with a camera inside!!!

    Yes, Philadelphia is very much into preserving and restoring their historical buildings. And I like the old mixed with the new. It gives the city lots of character.

    Yup...from 1790 to 1800 it was the capital.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Daniel! Happy mid-week!

    X

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  5. I agree, it is SO amazing to see photos of then and now. That must have been both fun and difficult to recreate those scenes. How hard was it? Hardly any of the landmarks remain! My favorite is the Automat just because it looks so much like the original. And it’s cool that they kept the sign above, even though it’s a damn doctors office now! LOL!

    I follow a historical Akron page on Facebook and there are occasionally photos like what you have done. I like to see the city through my grandparents’ eyes in the1920’s-30’s or even my Dad’s in the 1940’s-50’s. I’ve also seen some historical photos of the small city I currently live. There is a small brick building on the corner of the square that dates back to the 1850’s and was a general store. It’s still standing and is now a wine shop. We also have the original school built in 1835 that is now the town theatre. And one of the original town churches is still a church.

    Great topic, Ron. Thanks for sharing such great photos. I hope you survive the heat that’s headed our way. XO

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  6. What I did was download the vintage photos to my computer and then emailed them to my gmail account. Once I got to each location, I would open the photos on my phone (via gmail), and then try to match the same perspective in each vintage. You're right, hardly any of the landmarks remain, so it was tricky trying to find the exact spot. But regardless, I had so much funny putting this post together. I love comparison photos!

    "My favorite is the Automat just because it looks so much like the original. And it’s cool that they kept the sign above, even though it’s a damn doctors office now! LOL!'

    That's one of my favorites as well! That was the last Automat cafeteria to close in Philadelphia. And I'm so glad they kept the exterior intact, AND that they kept the Automat sign above. If you look at the second third photo down, you will see the GIMBLES sign to the right. I LOVED that department store. My mother used to take me there during the Christmas holidays.

    "I like to see the city through my grandparents’ eyes in the1920’s-30’s or even my Dad’s in the 1940’s-50’s.'

    Meeeeeeeeeeeee too! Oh God, how I love that! I'm very attracted to those time periods. And I'm happy to hear that Akron is preserving some of the buildings from the past. I would love to see that general store!

    Much thanks for stopping by this morning, my friend! Have a great day and week!

    X

    The heat has not been bad here. We had a week of really bad heat and humidity a while back. However, this week it's only been in the low 80s with not much humidity. I didn't even have to put on my A/C last night.

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  7. Good morning, Ron. I absolutely love old photos!! I follow a local historical page and it's so neat to see the old town photos! You've picked some very good Philadelphia ones to do these comparisons.
    So what's with Horn & Hardart becoming a cardiovascular office!? What kind of food did they serve??? haha. Just kidding. I know they were a very popular store/eatery for a long time. I think they had various products available here in NJ. Maybe I remember their rice pudding?
    Wow, there was a good crowd at the train station! So cool that the clock is still there. Elfreth's Alley kinda looked a bit sinister in the old photo. You can almost picture a Jack the Ripper type character running down the street with a black cloak flowing behind him. Oooh! LOL So to leave that vision behind... I do prefer the modern one more!

    Ahh, Independence Hall, I love the original! History!!
    And, you!! Sweet vintage you! Hey, some day far into the future you'll be sharing an 'antique' picture of yourself... shuffling down Market St. with your camera and your wonderful memories.
    Have a great day!!
    ~Mary

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  8. Ron, I like BOTH those photos of you. You look so adorable with your fro and brows!! And the pic of you and Kelly is so cute.

    Love these comparison photographs of then and now. Being someone who used to live in NY, I miss the old, historical buildings. Florida doesn't have much of that. Perhaps, St. Augustine?

    The photos of the Automat are my faves. Although, the ones of the Reading Terminal Station are A-MAZING! What does that "Danger Run Slow" sign mean?!?

    I agree, history repeats itself when it comes to fashion and style. You can see that in many of the designers. They often add bits and pieces of the past within their collections. And I like that!

    Fun post, Ron! xoxo

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  9. Hola, Denise!

    Aw, thank you! Isn't it funny to look at photos from your childhood and see how you've changed? That photo of me with the afro and bushy brows was before I discovered EYEBROW TWEEZERS. LOL! I used that photo as my first headshot for auditions in New York City. However, that photo was taken in Florida when I went home to visit during the summer.

    Yes, you're right, St Augustine would have a lot of historical building, being that it's the oldest city in America.

    I'm not exactly sure what that sign means. Perhaps it means for cars to slow down at the intersection? I wondered the same thing. I may look that up online later to find out for sure.

    "You can see that in many of the designers. They often add bits and pieces of the past within their collections. And I like that!"

    Yes, I like that too! I mean, there are only so many ways you can create fashion without recreating from the past.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Denise! Have a faaaaaaaaabulous day and rest of your week!

    X

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  10. Gooooooooood morning, Mary!

    "I follow a local historical page and it's so neat to see the old town photos!!"

    I knew you would enjoy these old photos!!!! Isn't it fascinating to see how they compare?

    "So what's with Horn & Hardart becoming a cardiovascular office!? What kind of food did they serve??? haha. Just kidding. I know they were a very popular store/eatery for a long time. I think they had various products available here in NJ. Maybe I remember their rice pudding?"

    I know, can you believe that? And look at how messing the place looks. It's a shambles. You're right about the rice pudding. They did have that in their cafeteria's. As well as the most delicious apple pie! I don't know if you knew this but Horn and Hardart Automat started in Philadelphia. In fact, the one you see here is the first one. And it was the last one to close. Automats were primarily in Philadelphia and New York City. I feel fortunate to have experienced the Automat cafeteria before they closed. My mother used to take us there whenever we were in the city. What fun that was!

    "Wow, there was a good crowd at the train station! So cool that the clock is still there. "

    Yes, and I think of that any time I walk past that clock!!! I'm so glad it's still there.

    "Elfreth's Alley kinda looked a bit sinister in the old photo. You can almost picture a Jack the Ripper type character running down the street with a black cloak flowing behind him."

    LOL! OMG, that cracked me up! You're so right, it does look sinister!!!!!

    " Hey, some day far into the future you'll be sharing an 'antique' picture of yourself... shuffling down Market St. with your camera and your wonderful memories."

    HA! You got that right!!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, neighbor! Have a grrrrrrrrrrreat day too!

    X

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  11. These photos are all incredible. I love seeing before and after photos of older buildings and what they have become. I appreciate it when big cities take care of their architecture. Chicago is the same way.

    I noticed Candice's observation that there are fewer people in the photos now, and I'm curious if this is because there are more modes of transportation now. So we don't see as many people in photos because they don't have to walk to get around like they used to?

    All of the city photos were beautiful, but my favorite was Elfreth's Avenue.

    And my favorite photos in the entire post was the before and after photos of you. 😘❤️

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  12. Morning, Kari!

    I LOVE your observation and thought about their being fewer people in the photos now because there are more modes of transportation now. I never thought of that! Especially now with Uber and Lyft being available. Come to think of it, we don't see as many taxi's as we use to before Uber and Lyft.

    "I love seeing before and after photos of older buildings and what they have become. I appreciate it when big cities take care of their architecture. Chicago is the same way."

    Happy to hear that Chicago is the same way! I think it's important to keep up with the architecture and preserve it because it's part of a city's DNA.

    Isn't Elfreth's Alley so cool-looking? And people LIVE in those homes. STILL.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. And for your sweet words. Have a great rest of your week!

    X

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  13. Fabulous post, my friend! I, too, am fascinated by the Then vs. the Now and love switching back and forth to catalog the differences. I'm sure you noticed the clothing styles Then were way more "dressed up" than they are Now!



    I especially love the oldest street in Philly -- I'm assuming those were storm shelters in the Then photo that were eliminated in the Now? And I also love the Second Bank and Independence Hall. You can see somebody's done a great job in keeping with the feel of those buildings while modernizing them for today's use.


    You're right: you look much better Now than Then, ha! Of course, Now we have access to better clothing materials than we had back Then (remember that yucky, slick-feeling polyester?!?) xx

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  14. Hey there, Debbie!

    Thanks, my friend! :) You too? Isn't then vs now fascinating?

    " I'm sure you noticed the clothing styles Then were way more "dressed up" than they are Now!"

    Yes I have! And yes, they were waaaaaaaaay more "dressed up" than they are now!

    And yes, you are spot on! Those are storm shelters (cellars) in the Then photo. And they are also in the Now photos. I don't know if people actually use them, however, the wooden doors leading down to the shelters are still intact.

    Aren't the Second Bank and Independence Hall lovely? Those are down in the oldest part of Philadelphia where all the historical buildings remain. I love that part of the city. They even still have Benjamin Franklin's house.

    "You're right: you look much better Now than Then, ha!"


    Glad someone else agrees! The Then was before I discovered eyebrow tweezers and a clothes iron for that wrinkled shirt collar. LOL!

    And OMG, yes, I do remember those polyester shirts!! I used to buy them and wear them out to the nightclubs during my partying days. They felt awful against your skin and were so hot. They made me sweat like a pig.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a faaaaaaaabulous rest of your week!

    X

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  15. That's great to hear, Ron! I like that Philadelphia takes care of its historical buildings. It shows respect for the past.

    And by the way, I noticed that your recently watched series is, 'Only Murders in the Building'. I LOVE that series! I couldn't wait for season 3. I think it started out slow, but then by the third episode, it picked up. I love that Meryl Streep is in it this season. And Paul Rudd too. Although, I'm sad they killed him off so soon.

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  16. I love that series too!!!! And much like you, I thought is started out very slow (and strange). In fact, one of the ladies I work with said that same thing. However, episode three got me interested again. I was worried there for a second because I didn't want to NOT watch it this season. I know, Paul Rudd was killed off too soon! He was dead by the second episode. Bummer! I love Meryl Streep's character!

    My only complaint is that I wish the episodes were longer than 30 minutes. They should be a full 60 minutes. The show just flies by. Also, each season is only ten episodes.

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  17. Ron, I'm with Kari, Elfreth's Alley is probably my favorite! The Then looks nothing like the Now. And you know me, like you, I love anything that resembles GOTH. And that is sooooooooooo Goth-looking!

    I'm fascinated with all of these photos (then and now) and am in awe of how you were able to get them to match. Good eye you have! In many of them, you can still see the same buildings in the background in the Then and the Now.

    What blows me away is the massive amount of people in the photo of Reading Terminal Station. WOW! The street is packed with pedestrians. It looks like rush hour in NYC on any given week day. Lol!

    Great post, dude! That photo of you with the afro is unbelievable. It's looks like you, but so different too. But your smile looks the same.

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  18. Hiya, Matt!

    "you know me, like you, I love anything that resembles GOTH. And that is sooooooooooo Goth-looking!"

    Yup, it looks so GOTH! As if you can almost see Dracula walking down that cobblestone street in his black cape! I love how "aged" that photo looks. So gritty and raw.

    Thanks! I look putting together Then and Now posts because I enjoy finding the photos and then scoping out the locations and trying to match them. Sometimes when I put these posts together, I will take a photo of the Now, and then search the internet for the same location Then. And many times the photo that I took almost matches the Then photo. It's uncanny!

    I know, isn't the massive amount of pedestrians in that photo insane? You're right, it looks like rush hour in NYC. Particularly from 4-6 PM.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Matt. It's funny how when you look at photos of yourself when you were younger, you keep the same face, but everything else around it changes.

    Have a terrific rest of your week!

    X

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  19. LOL! You do look like Greg Brady, Ron! As soon as I read that I immediately saw Barry Williams as Greg! You could have been his stand-in/ body-double when they were filming that show!!!!

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  20. Ron, my husband and I read this post last night after dinner, but had guests visiting for a few days who just left. I couldn't wait to respond. These photo comparisons are amazing. And every time you post about areas of Philadelphia, I get all excited to visit them myself. I agree, I much prefer the "Then" images because I truly believe that "Then" was much better - the clothes, the style, the way people lived, and how people were. Was it perfect? No. But it was a hell of a lot more civilized than today. I sound old, don't I? LOL!!! Actually, I sound like my mother when I was a kid.

    Being a New Yorker, I remember the automat cafeteria. We had a few in the city. Didn't you love using the coins to get your food? My mother would exchange nickels for coins and then give us kids some because we loved using the little window. What fun!

    The Reading Terminal comparisons are so different! And so are the ones of Elfreth's Alley. We've been there a few times since moving to Philly. I love that area of the city.

    And the comparison photos of you? BOTH are stellar! Handsome man you are!

    Thank you for a very interesting post (as usual)! Hasn't this cooler weather been fantastic? xox

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  21. Hello there, Elaine!

    "Actually, I sound like my mother when I was a kid."

    Hahahahahahahaha! Me too! My mother would say the same thing. And use to think, "What the hell is she talking about? That was a loooong time ago!" And now I'm saying the same thing!

    "Didn't you love using the coins to get your food? My mother would exchange nickels for coins and then give us kids some because we loved using the little window. What fun!"


    OMG, I freaking loved it! I got in on the tail end of Horn & Hardart Automat. My mother would take us there whenever we went into the city. I think my grandmother (her mother) was there too because she lived in Germantown. There is a movie with Doris Day where she goes into a New York City automat. Such a great scene!

    Aren't the photos of Reading Terminal sooooooooo different? Standing there on the day that I took those photos, I was trying to imagine what it must have been like to lived during that "Then" time period.

    Thank you for stopping by, Elaine! And thank you for your sweet words. And yes....this cooler weather has been BEYOND fantastic! I can feel AUTUMN slowly moving in. Can't wait! Have a great weekend!

    X

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  22. Outstanding comparison photos, Ron! I'm an old soul, so I'm very much into vintage photographs, vintage jewelry, and vintage clothes. When I got engaged, I used a ring my grandmother had (that was given to me) and had it customized as an engagement ring. Not only is it beautiful, but every time I look at it I think of her.

    Favorites are the automat, the train station terminal, and city hall. GORGEOUS!

    Thank you for sharing, Ron. You've got a good eye for comparison!

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  23. "When I got engaged, I used a ring my grandmother had (that was given to me) and had it customized as an engagement ring. Not only is it beautiful, but every time I look at it I think of her."

    OMG, Abby, I LOVE that! And I bet that ring means even more than if you purchased a new one. I used to work for a custom jewelry company where we would either make a ring from scratch to the clients liking, or we would also sell diamonds or gemstones outright, so that the client could use them to customize their own ring from a different jeweler, using the setting from their own ring.

    I bet your ring is stunning!

    Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. Happy Monday, my friend!

    X

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  24. Ron, these are marvelous! Sometimes I think I'm living in the wrong time period because I'm more drawn to previous decades - the design, style, and fashion. For me it's the 30's and 40s. I even like the 50s.

    And don't you think black and white photography is so much for powerful? I enjoy documentaries as well. And my favorite non-documentary films are the old black and whites movies.

    Speaking of Philadelphia, did you ever see the move 'The Philadelphia Story' with Hepburn and Grant. It's one of my favorite classics!

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  25. Clair, you sound just like me!

    "Sometimes I think I'm living in the wrong time period because I'm more drawn to previous decades - the design, style, and fashion. For me it's the 30's and 40s. I even like the 50s."

    Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee too! I was born in the 50s (1955) and never realize just how fabulous a time it was for style and fashion. I look at old family photos and see what everyone is wearing and realize just how fashionable it was!

    OMG yes!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've seen 'The Philadelphia Story' many times! I'm a huge Cary Grant fan. He and Hepburn were absolutely perfect in their roles. They crack me up!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Clair! Hope you're week is off to a great start!

    X

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