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California Then And Now – These Photos Will Blow Your Mind 🤯

Everybody likes a cool before and after picture to see how places have changed over time.

So we scoured the internet to find interesting photos of California like you’ve never seen before.

The pictures here are from different time periods dating all the way back to the 1800s.

Our favorites are number 11 and number 15.

1. Thousand Oaks, 1960s

Anybody who knows of the old TV show ‘Gunsmoke’ will appreciate this.

The first image is circa 1965.

thousand oaks before and after
Reddit , The Acorn

You might also like this video on the topic.

2. Fallen Leaf Lake, Near Lake Tahoe, 1866

These pics of Fallen Leaf Lake are taken in the 1860s!


fallen leaf lake and tahlac mountain


fallen leaf lake modern


fallen leaf lake side by side (1)

3. Route 66 between Barstow and Oro Grande, CA. 1917

Route 66 is as iconic as it gets and this spot lines up perfectly for a before and after photo.

We love how it lines up perfectly with that mound on the left.

route 66 between barstow and oro grande 1917

Related Reading: Surprising things you didn’t know about Route 66

4. The Barton House, Redlands – Late 1800’s

If you’re from Redlands, California you’ve got to know this place.

The Barton House, also known as the Barton Villa, was the first fired-brick house built in Redlands and to this day it’s actually the oldest surviving house in Redlands area.

Today it’s used as a wedding venue so you can even get married in this historic venue!


barton house redlands 1800s


barton house redlands 2012 (1)

5. North on Sunset Boulevard toward Vine Street, Los Angeles (1898, 1977, 2021)

It’s pretty crazy to think how much Los Angeles has changed over time.

sunset boulevard

Here’s another more recent picture too from Google Maps.

sunset boulevard google maps (1)
Google Maps Streetview

6. Colfax, 1909 vs 2023

Look how well Colfax has maintained its old town look.


7. Intersection of Third and Hill streets, Los Angeles (c. 1898/2010s)

Here’s another of Los Angeles.

Look at that beautiful building at the top of the hill on the left!


8. Vintage Service Station Built in 1927, Orange, Orange County

You won’t be seeing many of these historic buildings around today.

Have you driven past this place?


Here’s a recent article about the place in 2021 in the LA times.

9. Western Metal Supply Co Building, San DiegoEarly 1900s

This one’s for anyone who’s been to Petco Park.

Did you know that this brick building within the stadium was actually built in 1909?

Today there’s a metal strip on its corner which is used as a foul pole.

western metal supply co

10. San Diego – 1927 vs 2020

This pic shows how San Diego has changed over time.

In the old picture, you can see where the water used to be, but now the water’s edge has been pushed back to make room for buildings like the airport.

san diego

11. Corner of California St. & Grant Ave., San Francisco – 1915 & 2019

Here’s one for the people of San Francisco.

You can see that there’s no sign of the Bay Bridge in the first image because construction didn’t start on that until 1933.

Corner of California St. & Grant Ave. | San Francisco | 1915 & 2019

12. Harbor Boulevard, Fullerton, 1935 – 2017

Harbor Boulevard is one of the busiest routes in Orange County so lots of locals should be able to recognize this spot.

Can you?

fullerton california

13. Main Street, Newport Beach- 1916 -> 2023

Have you been to this spot in Newport Beach?

Almost anyone who visits Balboa Peninsula would have seen this.





14. Spadena House (AKA The Witch’s House) Beverly Hills, 1921-2020

This place is straight out of a fairytale!

The Spadena House was built in 1921 and was originally designed by a Hollywood art director called Harry Oliver.

If you want to see some recent pictures of the interiors of the building then check out this article from the LAmag.

witchs house beverly hills (1)

15. Hetch Hetchy Valley/Reservoir, Sierra Nevada Mountains, 1911 – Present Day

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is one of the top things to do if you visit Yosemite, but did you know it was just Hetch Hetchy Valley before?

Can you imagine walking along this valley if it still existed?


Here’s a post that talks a bit more about its history.

16. Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1), Sorrento Club and Ruins, 1936

sorrento club ruins 1936

17. Mission Dolores Park and San Francisco skyline 1910 and 2018

I wonder if the people of San Francisco in 1910 could imagine what the skyline would look like 100 years later. 🤔

mission dolores park (1)

18. Auburn, Placer County, California, 1934/1940 -> 2023

Auburn is a city known for its Gold Rush history and it’s designated as a California Historical Landmark so it’s nice to see that some of the older buildings of the town are still in place.

placer county before and after (1)
placer county before and after 2 (1)

19. Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street, Huntington Beach, 1938 -> 2021

huntington beach before and after (1)

Did you like seeing these before and after photos?

What was your favorite?

Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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