Reverse Image Search Returns Nearly Identical Photo from 36 Years Ago

While visiting beautiful New York City earlier this year, an Australian photographer named Kiernan traveled to the top of the Empire State Building and snapped a photograph of the cityscape. After returning home, he decided to do a reverse image search on Google just to see what he might find. He was surprised to discover that the top result was a nearly identical photograph that was captured 36 years ago.

The photograph, captured by Chicago-based illustrator Ken Smith, has the caption:

Toward lower Manhattan and Wall Street; the twin towers of the 3-year-old World Trade Center are in the distance, and the sharp prow of the Flatiron Building is just to the left of lower center, where Broadway cuts diagonally across Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street.

Kiernan tells us,

I thought it was interesting thing to not only see the difference in New York over the last four decades, but also the power of Google image search and the rather nice surprise that someone else has in history chose to use the exact same composition and focal length so many years before hand.

The next time you snap a photograph from a popular picture spot, try doing a reverse image search through Google or TinEye. You might find yourself taken back in time!

Image credit: Rebuilding by mayzie. and View South from the Empire State Building, July 1976 by artistmac

  • Manuel Velásquez Figueroa

    The link of Google to reverse image, doesn’t work =(

  • Jeremy

    Only major difference I see is the twin towers missing. Really cool

  • Mansgame

    Is it really that “surprising” considering how many millions of people have been to the Empire State building’s observation deck to take pictures in the last 30 years/

  • David Rychart

    I think it’s because google image search was able to recognize the photo as similar? Maybe? I don’t really know either.

  • Mansgame

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the picture and the comparison but I guess I don’t understand the whole shocking value of why this picture is that amazing. It’s basically the same picture minus the obvious difference but reverse image searches account for a little variance (perhaps a watermark missing, etc).

  • Brian

    It is just me or is the older picture visually much more pleasing. I feel like I can easily see much more detail than the newer photo. I mean, look at how much the roads pop in the old vs the new.

  • Chris Lyn

    The new photo definitely has more detail. The roads ‘pop’ out more because the sun is reflecting off of them as opposed to the newer, where the sun is not and has more building to block them.

  • cirrostratus

    A similar photograph of the same subject taken from the same spot. What are the odds of that happening?

  • Steven Alan

    Just you…

  • santijose

    many have taken this very view, many times over.

  • Yawn

    Its not that amazing. I looked over my nyc photos i took in 2006 and i also have this exact shot. O.m.g.

  • D_A

    The twin towers immediately caught my eye in the old picture. The glaring difference it made… iunno, somewhat surreal, I guess

  • Steve Brain

    Wow that’s how terrible image quality was 36 years ago? Eesh, glad I’m living in 2014.

  • Steve Brain

    Yeah, it is just him. I don’t see how a photo containing virtually no colour at all (despite being a colour image) can be considered better than a new photo taken with today’s technology.