A view from the past – 10 world cities in the 1800’s

A view from the past – 10 world cities in the 1800’s

Can you imagine what some of the most famous cities in the 1800s were like? As you can tell by the name of my website history is something I am passionate about – to be able to time travel to bygone eras would be my dream! So I thought I would share something very special to me – over 117 years ago my Great-Grandfather was awarded a book entitled “One World in Pictures” for Proficiency and Punctual Attendance at school.

cities in the 1800's

Contained in the book are photographs of so many of the cities and landmarks with which we are familiar today – however what you will see is not familiar! It is a glimpse into the past – into a world long ago.

So I thought I would share – I am starting with 10 and I would love feedback about these photographs. What surprises you the most? Would you recognise the city if you were to travel back in time?

Enjoy a view from the past of these cities in the 1800s (If anyone has a modern photograph taken in roughly the same spot I would love to see it and add to the post)


a view from the past - Paris in the 1800s

PARIS view from Montmartre


paris montmartre in the 1800s


Top tips when visiting Paris France for the first time


stockholm in the 1800s


”There are the ferry-boats of Stockholm and take the place of horse cars in our cities.”

I have yet to visit Stockholm though have visited Malmo in the south of the country. If you are visiting Malmo or the Danish capital Copenhagen find out how to travel easily between the two cities.


lucerne in the 1800s

Luzern switzerland

Lucerne is one of my favourite European cities – beautiful scenery, fresh air, lakes and mountain walks. If you are visiting Lucerne I would highly recommend taking a trip up Mt Pilatus. It will take a day but will be a memorable trip not only because of the wonderful views but because of the many methods of transportation you will take on your journey up and down the mountain!

A Complete Guide to the Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus Lucerne Switzerland


austria vienna in the 1800s



milan cathedral in 1800s

milan cathedral in italy

Not a huge change!

If you are considering a trip to Milan check out my guide to what you can see and do in this northern Italian city in a day. There is a lot to do so be sure to plan ahead!

What to do in one day in Milan in Italy


copenhagen denmark in the 1800s

THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE PICTURES IN THE BOOK! QUOTE – “Copenhagen has two very noticeable characteristics, cleanliness and cheerfulness. Cheerfulness seems with them a universal trait. ” Seems hygge was around in the 19th century in Denmark too!!


And how it looks 117 years later – photograph courtesy of Erin of Oregon Girl Around the World

Top things to do in Copenhagen in Denmark


cape town south africa in the 1800s

CAPE TOWN BUT NOT AS I KNOW HER! “The town is quite regularly built – the houses are of good size and are mostly of brick or stone , and generally have a veranda in front. The Castle is on the right side of the town and commands the anchorage of Table Bay.”

Cape Town view of table mountain

An insider's guide to Cape Town South Africa


brazil rio harbour in the 1800s


usa washington dc in the 1800s


Washington DC - what you can do on a daytrip from New York!


cities in the 1800s


Alexandria in the 1800s


I hope you enjoyed a view from the past – a glimpse back into life around the world over 120 years ago! It is quite incredible how much things have changed in a relatively small period of time.

I have lots more photographs of cities in the 1800s around the world to share. It would be fantastic to compare even more cities in the 1800s to see what has changed over the past 120 plus years.




Author: Tracy

Tracy is your expert expat!

She has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)

Through down-to-earth stories, tips and advice (based on her own extensive knowledge and experience of life as an expat) she aims to support new and prospective expats to survive and thrive in Australia.

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. June 13, 2017 / 6:17 am

    What an interesting idea for a post, Tracy! Really enjoyed looking at the pictures. Would be fun to compare today’s cities photographed from the same angle, just like the one from Milan. It’s also interesting to see how some places haven’t changed much, and will probably stay the same for many other generations to appreciate.
    Jurga recently posted…What to Wear and What to Pack for Yellowstone in SummerMy Profile

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      I know – aren’t they amazing pics! I have a load more coming soon!

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      Thanks Keri – they are fascinating photographs!

  2. June 13, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Fascinating post! Whenever we travel anywhere, I always try to imagine what it looked like 50-100 years ago, before cars and shops, tourists and modern technology took over the city! #CityTripping

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:14 pm

      Yes these photographs give a good idea of life before tourism!

  3. June 13, 2017 / 10:51 am

    This kind of thing absolutely fascinates me – especially when it’s somewhere I know well, to see how much it’s changed (or not in Milan’s case!) I love the story about receiving it for attendance as well, what a great memento. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  4. June 13, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    Very cool! Although it’s interesting that a lot of the time it’s the transport and the fashions that dates cities.

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:13 pm

      I know! I must share the photograph of Edinburgh too!

  5. June 14, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    I love this! And I love that your grandfather was given it too – maybe that’s what inspired you to travel!? The Copenhagen one made me happy too – how nice to be known to be a cheery city for all those era’s. I want to see more now though!

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:10 pm

      Yes its strange isn’t it – maybe he gave me the travel gene!

  6. June 16, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    What an awesome book to have inherited! I’ve only been to a couple of these cities but loved looking at the pictures! When I was in college, I walked around our town taking present-day versions of a few late 1800s photos I found somewhere and made a collage to hang in my dorm room. It would be really cool to do something similar with the photos in your book!
    Laura @ 48 No Interstate recently posted…FAQ: Back Roads Cross-Country TravelMy Profile

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:07 pm

      Thats such a great idea Laura! I will definitely do that! Will look amazing!

  7. June 18, 2017 / 5:30 am

    What a great idea, I love historical comparisons such as this and I have a plan to do something similar in the future (but not quite the same, although great minds think alike eh lol). Love the old pictures, especially Cape Town, mainly because I like to see the old sailing ships which always look so romantic. I know you had fun doing this post, and we have all had fun reading it! #feetdotravel

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:06 pm

      Thanks Angie – I loved looking at the photographs! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  8. June 18, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    It’s always so interesting to see old photographs. But is it just me, because I actually don’t see that big of a difference in the European cities! I think many European cities are already so old with so many well preserved architecture, that they don’t even seem to have changed that much! I haven’t been to Cairo before and I’m surprised that the old photo of it looks quite beautiful and built up!
    Anna recently posted…May 2017 travel re-cap: Langkawi and UbudMy Profile

    • June 18, 2017 / 3:05 pm

      I know what you mean – I was fascinated by the transport and the clothes people are wearing! And I love looking at places through the eyes of someone from so long ago 🙂

    • June 30, 2017 / 8:55 pm

      I know I am really pleased you enjoyed it!

  9. June 21, 2017 / 4:20 am

    Ooh, I love old photos! I’m happy to see that these European sites have not changed a bit since the olden days. It’s good that they preserve history and heritage. Unfortunately, in Asia, some government authorities prefer to tear down the old buildings or change the old landscape in favour of skyscrapers/high rise buildiings to show progress and modernisation 🙁

    Thanks for sharing it, cheers!

    • June 30, 2017 / 8:51 pm

      Yes they look very much the same in Europe – love the fashions and horse drawn carriages!

  10. June 22, 2017 / 8:41 am

    Oh I love this post so much and how some of those cities have changed but still some elements remain is just beautiful and fascinating, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

  11. June 25, 2017 / 10:48 am

    It’s wonderful to see how much these cities have changed (or not in some cases). What I see in a lot of the pictures are horse drawn carriages, classic ships / sailing boats, they really give a feel of the era. Today we can take better pictures than we could in the 19th century but in the case of the Milan Cathedral, the original picture is better than the new picture because the building was over a 100 years younger!

    Can I request a future post? I would love to read a similar post but of how cities were in the 1970’s/80’s. I’d love to see a comparison of cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, London, New York etc.. I’d imagine the difference is huge in just a few decades and cities like Shenzhen were probably non-existent.

    • June 30, 2017 / 8:48 pm

      That would be a great idea for a future post James! I will have to have a look out for a vintage book of pics from the 70’s – would be fab to do a comaprison!

  12. June 27, 2017 / 8:22 pm

    Great idea Tracy, and fascinating to see how some of the world’s most popular cities have changed. I wonder how 2017 will change we look back on current cities in the future!
    Garth recently posted…AngkorMy Profile

    • June 30, 2017 / 8:46 pm

      Thanks Garth – I loved looking through the book and thought it would be great to share 🙂