Then and now: How 10 iconic city skylines have changed since 2000

The London Eye, then and now.

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The London Eye, then and now.
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Michel Porro/Getty Images, Georgios Antonatos/Shutterstock

Some of the world’s most iconic skylines have undergone significant changes over the past 20 years.

While some cities have enjoyed prosperous economic growth, spurring the construction of impressive skyscrapers and other structures, others have tragically lost beloved landmarks.

As 2019 comes to an end, here’s a look back at how 10 of the world’s city skylines have evolved since the year 2000.


The twin towers of the World Trade Center were an iconic part of New York City until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were a familiar sight to New Yorkers,” Brittany Fowler wrote in Business Insider. “For decades, you looked up, and they were there. It was a reassuring sight.”


One World Trade Center, completed in 2014, commands the horizon now.

One World Trade Center is 1,776 feet tall – a reference to how the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.


The Dubai Marina in the United Arab Emirates was undergoing basic construction in 2000.

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The first of seven bridges in Westside Marina in Dubai in 2000.
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RABIH MOGHRABI/AFP via Getty Images

The marina is set along an artificial canal on the Persian Gulf. The first of its seven bridges was completed in 2000.


The Dubai Marina is still being expanded, but it’s full of luxury high-rise buildings.

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A panoramic view of Dubai Marina area at sunset.
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Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The area’s attractions include the Dubai Marina Mall, Al-Rahim Mosque, and plenty of beach access.


The Notre Dame Cathedral was among Paris’ most recognizable landmarks.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral.
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Gerard SIOEN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The cathedral was built in the 12th century.


A 2019 fire destroyed Notre Dame’s spire and most of its roof.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral five months after the fire in 2019.
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Chesnot/Getty Images

Archaeologists, scientists, researchers, and construction workers are currently working to restore the site in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.


Mount Fuji stole the show in Tokyo, Japan, in 2000.

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Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is seen in silhouette over Shinjuku skyscrapers in Tokyo in 2000.
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Kimimasa Mayama/Reuters

Mount Fuji, which stands at 12,389 feet tall, is southwest of Tokyo.


But the Tokyo Skytree building made a distinct addition to the city’s landscape in 2012.

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The Tokyo Skytree.
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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

It’s no Mount Fuji, but it’s the world’s tallest tower at 2,080 feet.


Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower was completed in 1994, but there weren’t many other buildings surrounding it in 2000.

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Shanghai at night.
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Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Oriental Pearl Tower, the sixth-tallest tower in the world, is located in Shanghai’s Pudong economic district.


More skyscrapers have cropped up around the tower in recent years.

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A view of the skyscrapers, including the Oriental Pearl Tower, in Pudong.
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DEA/GIANNI OLIVA/Contributor/Getty Images

The Pudong economic district is classified as a Special Economic Zone with the goal of furthering China’s economic growth through tax and business incentives, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.


After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Moscow’s landscape began to change.

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Moscow’s skyline in 2000.
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Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Dingy apartment complexes from the Soviet Union remain standing alongside Western-style establishments like casinos and nightclubs.


The population of Moscow has increased by about 2 million since 2000.

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Present-day Moscow.
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Dontsov Evgeny/Shutterstock

It remains one of the largest cities in the world with around 12 million people, and its infrastructure is growing to keep up.


The city of Cairo, Egypt, has existed on the bank of Egypt’s Nile River for over 1,000 years.

Its foundations date back even further to the Fatimid dynasty in the year 969.


Cairo has become so large and populous that Egypt is building an entirely new capital city to alleviate the congestion.

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Cairo today.
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peizais/Shutterstock

The project has run into delays due to a lack of funding.


The London Eye was still under construction when the year 2000 began, opening to the public that March.

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The London Eye under construction.
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Michel Porro/Getty Images

The 443-foot Ferris wheel was the tallest one in the world until 2006.


It has remained one of the defining characteristics of London’s skyline, and was joined by The Shard skyscraper in 2012.

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The London Eye and The Shard today.
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James D. Morgan/Contributor/Getty Images

According to Londonist, the London Eye is the most popular paid attraction in the UK with over 3.75 million riders every year.

The Shard, built in partnership with Qatar, was designed to be a “vertical city” complete with offices, hotels, apartments, and retail space.


The infrastructure in Seoul, South Korea, struggled to keep up with its population growth.

Rapid economic development can have catastrophic consequences. Seoul’s Songsu bridge collapsed in 1994, killing 32 people. It was built to hold 36.3 tons and regularly held more than 47.3 tons, according to the New York Times.


Seoul turned an unsafe highway into a walkway called Seoul Street in 2017.

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Seoul today.
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Johnathan21/Shutterstock

The walkway is set along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, an artificial river woven with paths and bridges, built in 2005. The park added much-needed green space to Seoul’s landscape, the Washington Post reported.


After the Asian financial crisis in 1997, construction projects across Bangkok, Thailand, came to a halt.

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Empty high rise buildings in Bangkok in 2000.
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Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images

Stock markets and currency values in east and southeast Asia plummeted in 1997 due to the Thai government’s decision not to peg the baht to the US dollar.


While some unfinished buildings have either been torn down or completed, some abandoned towers still remain.

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High rise buildings in Bangkok.
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sommart sombutwanitkul/Shutterstock

A number of “ghost” buildings in the cityscape are unfit for demolition or further construction. The most famous example is the Sathorn Unique, a 49-story abandoned skyscraper known as “Ghost Tower” that still stands in the middle of Bangkok.