A "Then and Now" Photography Project !

9  Diamond Project

Located near the harbor



For this project, you are going to go around your town taking photographs. It will be lots of fun. We are going to be taking a particular type of photo called a "Then and Now" photo? Well, it is a picture taken from the exact same spot and angle as an older photo. For instance, here is a picture from the town where I used to live. It is a city called Palo Alto and this is Hamilton Street. This photo was taken in the year 1928, almost 100 years ago.

Above:Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto in 1928.

I was interested to see what this place looks like now. So a few years ago, I went out and stood on Hamilton and tried to find the same buildings. It didn't take too long because that tall four-story building on the corner is still there. I was holding the old picture in my hand and I lined up my camera and took this photo, which shows the street today. 

Can you tell that it is the exact same place?

Now looking at these two pictures side by side you can tell it is the same place. That 4 story building is still there except in the modern picture, it is blocked by a newer building...the one with all the windows. Way, way down the street past the 4 story building, there is a hotel which is also the same. But it is hard to see in the new picture because of a tree. Everything else is new. Do you notice anything else different? How about the cars, have they changed?

Now, take a look at these two pictures. This is a famous tree in Palo Alto called "El Palo Alto." They named the town after it. Nothing has changed much except for the train. Trains looked very different in 1951. The second picture is in 2006. Someone could go and stand on the same spot and take a 2020 picture too.


Now that you know what a "Then and Now" picture is, I'd like you to explore some of the photos I took of Palo Alto a few years ago. Go to this website and look around at the different photos. They are organized into the different neighborhoods of Palo Alto. 

Click the picture to visit the Then & Now photos of Palo Alto.

Next, download the question sheet to the right. It asks you to write down at least 5 things you notice about the Then and Now photos on the website. See the example. Look at things like how cars have changed, buildings have changed, roads have changed, people's fashions have changed and anything else you notice.

Type in your answers and upload the sheet into your folder on Google Drive.

Click above to download the question sheet.


Ok, now it is your turn. You are going to take some Then and Now photos in your town. But you might be wondering where you will find old photos of your town. It's usually easier than you think. There are usually two ways to find them...

1. Your Local Library. If you go to the library and ask the librarian to help you find a book of old photos of your town, they will almost always be able to find one. 

You can also find local history books in the 900s. Your parent may be able to help you find one.

2. Another way is to search online. Most towns have a history museum or historical society that has old photos on its website. For instance, Palo Alto has one here: http://archives.pahistory.org/

Once you find it, select 4 photos that you want to find a "Now" picture for. 

The best pictures are:

*Pictures where you know where they were taken or can find out

*Have interesting things like people, cars and multiple buildings (like the one to the right)

*Don't have too many things that have changed.

Don't forget if you get stuck, Matt or your family can help!


Once you have gone around and taken your 4 "Now" photos, you are going to upload the Then and the Now photos into a Microsoft Word document. 

If you got your "Then" photos from a website, you can just insert the photo into the Word document.

If you got your "Then" photo from a book, you have two choices. One is to scan the picture from the book. The other is to simply take a photo of the old photo by holding up your camera carefully to take the picture.

Click the picture above to download the Then & Now sheet.


For the last step you are going to create your own kind of "Then and Now" in Montessori City. In a parking lot or parking area in Montessori City, you are going to create two side-by-side cars. One will be an old-fashioned car, the other a modern car from today. When viewed side-by-side it will almost be like a "Then and Now" photo.

If you are not sure what an old-fashioned car looks like, click on the picture to the right and it will take you to a website on vintage cars.

Click above to see some cars from a hundred years ago. Note that your old car does not have to be from the 1920s, it can be anytime between 1890-1960.


*See the description about Then & Now photos

*Visit the site of Then & Now photos of Palo Alto

*Complete the worksheet asking for your observations about then Then & Now photos you viewed

*Then find 4 old photos of your town that you want to find "Now" photos of...

*Take the "Now" photos and upload into the worksheet next to the "Then" photos

*Create your own "Then and Now" scene by creating a modern car in Montessori City next to an old-fashioned, vintage car

*Present your Then and Now photos and cars to Teacher Matt



*Teacher Matt is grading out of a possible 9Diamonds for this project.