You’d probably only have to see a glimpse of the Lincoln Memorial to identify it, and most people recognize the Eiffel Tower without giving it much thought. That’s because buildings and monuments like this are so iconic; they’ve become ingrained in our minds.
But what did these historic structures look like before they were historic?
The world’s most iconic landmarks are a big draw for tourists worldwide. But these historical landmarks are not just tourist attractions; they often serve as a milestone in history or remarkable events in time. Photographers love landmarks, especially the challenge of capturing them differently from all the average angles and classic shots. Even when these iconic landmarks were built, photographers couldn’t resist capturing them forever. We are glad that they did because it gives us extraordinary insights.
Below are 21 of the world’s most famous iconic landmarks, pictured before they became famous. After browsing these photos, you might find it hard to believe that the Statue of Liberty ever used to look like that!
01. The Sydney Opera House was under construction in the 1960s.
Image credits: Cultural Collections
Sydney Opera House – 1966
Image credits: Flickr: oakleystudios
02. Christ the Redeemer is built on a mountaintop in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Christ The Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 1931
03. Manhattan Bridge in New York City, 1909.
The Golden Gate Bridge – 1936
04. The London Tower Bridge without a middle in 1892.
05. The beginnings of the Hoover Dam – 1932.
06. The U.S. Capitol Building in 1861.
07. The Eiffel Tower is under an incredible illusion.
The Eiffel Tower – 1888
08. The Atomium in Brussels, Belgium – 1958.
09. Chrysler Building – 1930
Image credits: AP
10. Mount Rushmore is missing some key players.
Image credits: National Geographic
Mount Rushmore – 1933
Image credits: U.S. National Park Service
11. The Statue of Liberty reached new heights in 1885.
The Statue of Liberty – 1885
12. One World Trade Center in 2012.
World Trade Center – 1970
13. The Lincoln Memorial, pictured during construction, missing the head of Lincoln – 1920.
14. The early stages of the Washington Monument.
15. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, being completed in 2008.
16. Luxor, Las Vegas – 1993
17. New York City’s Flatiron Building, pictured here in 1902.
18. The Empire State Building in 1931.
19. The layers of the Petronas Towers were built in Malaysia in 1995.
20. The construction of the Space Needle in Seattle. This photo was taken in 1961.
Image credits: Seattle Municipal Archives
Space Needle, Seattle – 1961
Image credits: Flickr: seattlemunicipalarchives
21. The iconic Gateway Arch, looming large over St. Louis in 1965.
Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our top stories.