#CNNMyCity: Photographers capture amazing images of changing cities

Story highlights

  • #CNNMyCity asked readers and photographers to send in pictures of how their cities are changing
  • Hundreds of submissions detail urbanization, gentrification and ambitious new projects around the world

(CNN)Towards the end of last year, we asked our readers, along with a few select photographers, to take to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and send us the pictures that documented how their cities were changing.

From Manila to Mexico City and from Dubai to Dar es Salaam, the results offered a fascinating insight into the trends, cultures and developments reshaping the biggest metropolises on the planet -- as well as many smaller ones too.
    We received stories of a new city district built on top of U.S. army tunnels in the Philippines, of rapid urban development in Tanzania and how a skyscraper in South Africa fell victim to drug pushers and prostitutes before being transformed into a home for families and young professionals.
    There were so many submissions that whittling down a selection of the best images became a near impossible task.
    The following posts and gallery atop the page are by no means exhaustive. But they do aim to offer a wide geographical spread of the submissions we received while also exploring the interesting tales of development, ambitious construction and gentrification they tell.
    You can see more pictures relating to the project by searching for #CNNMyCity on Instagram or by checking out the images in the media wall below this article.

    Shanghai, China

    A photo posted by Eduardo Viero (@eduviero) on

    Shanghai resident and photographer Eduardo Viero (@eduviero) sent in this image of the bustling Chinese metropolis he calls the "concrete jungle." Viero describes a city which has grown rapidly over the last 20 years, bringing an impressive battery of skyscrapers and highrises but also stifling levels of air pollution. "Shanghai is about destroying and building new houses all the time," he surmises.

    A photo posted by @daisyyyych on

    Another Shanghai submission came from Daisy Chan (@daisyyyych) who sent in this image of her sister looking out towards the skyscrapers in the city's Pudong district. The snap was taken from a private club in Nanjing Road across the Huangpu river. "The opposite side (Pudong) used to be a plain open area," says Chan, who has lived in the city since 2002. "(This picture) means a lot to me especially (as) it interprets how a Chinese city has turned out to become a big international city," she adds.

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    "Rio de Janeiro has changed a lot in the past years," says local resident and photographer Paulo del Valle (@paulodelvalle). Hundreds of new buildings have sprung up as the Brazilian city prepares to host the Olympic Games later in 2016. Because there is little space for new construction in the built-up center and south of the city, much of the change has been focused on the "West Zone," which has been set aside for the Olympic village, Del Valle explains. In particular, the neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca (pictured) has become "the most modern part of the city" he says.

    Johannesburg, South Africa

    This dramatic image from the heart of the Ponte City Tower in Johannesburg, South Africa, was captured by photographer, filmmaker and Instagrammer Gareth Pon (@garethpon). The highrise building with a hollow core was once the height of urban sophistication. But rising crime in the surrounding neighborhood during the tumult of the post-Apartheid 1990s saw it attract an array of drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes.
    "The center of the building used to be full of garbage up to the fifth floor and rumor has it that there were even bodies found among the rubbish," Pon says. By 2001, however, attempts were being made to restore Ponte City to its former glory. Pon describes how all 54 floors were refurbished and liveable space was created for families, students and young professionals of all income groups. In a way, Pon says, Ponte has become a potent symbol of Johannesburg's history and development. "It makes up our skyline and carries tales that date back to apartheid and in a very real way showcases the transformation of South Africa and it's culture," he says.

    Lyon, France

    A photo posted by Cloporte (@cloporte75) on

    This giant mural of the chef, Paul Bocuse, has become a "symbol of the new era" of Lyon, says Virginie Bouvard (@cloporte75). It also shows "how the face of a city can change over the years without forgetting its roots and its history," she adds. Lyon has long been known as the gastronomic capital of France, thanks in part to the cuisine of Bocuse. But new projects like the ambitious "La Confluence"riverfront development, a $6.5 billion regeneration project bringing new museums, stylish apartments and a business space, have made it noteworthy for its architectural ambitions as well.

    Barcelona, Spain

    The Raval area of Barcelona has changed a lot over the years, says photographer and Instagrammer Nicanor Garcia (@nicanorgarcia). This photo shows the urban patchwork of varying building styles which have been de rigeur in the area over previous generations, he says. More recently, "elevators have appeared for easy access" while the use of these apartments is now "mainly for touristic purposes," he adds.

    Hong Kong

    The flashy neon signs and lights that were once a staple of lively neighborhoods like Mong Kok (pictured) in Hong Kong are slowly disappearing says local resident, Kay Kulkarni (@kulkimoose), who sent in this photo via Twitter. "Now, LED lights pave the way in hope of a (more) sustainable future," he says.
    An aerial view of high buildings in Hong Kong.
    Nathalie Greve, another Hong Kong resident, shared this image of Carnavon Road in the Kowloon area of the city via CNN's comment section. "There is always one skyscraper higher than another" in Hong Kong she said. From a great height, the "streets look like veins to me," she adds.

    Mexico City, Mexico

    This image of the stylish Museo Soumaya in the Nuevo Polanco district of Mexico City was captured by photographer Mauricio Tufino (@mauriciotufino). The up-and-coming neighborhood was once filled with factories and warehouses, Tufino says. But today, it's home to museums (like the Museo Soumaya), offices, apartments and even an aquarium. Although still lacking ideal transport links due to the pace of development, "(the) area is in constant transformation," he says.

    Mumbai, India

    A photo posted by Karan (@krb012) on

    "Everyone who is anyone wants to have a presence in the Bandra area of Mumbai," says Karan R. Bhatia (@krb012), who posted this artistic shot of a highrise building in the fashionable neighborhood of the bustling Indian city. "From being a quiet area dominated by fishing families, Bandra has, over the years, become home to outlets of many big designer brands, affluent families, Bollywood movie actors/celebs," Bhatia says. It is also "an integral part of Mumbai's food and nightlife (scene)," he adds.

    Dubai, UAE

    A plane is spotted through the highrise buildings that have come to dominate Dubai in this photo posted by Mustafa Sheikh (@mustafa_sheikh). "When I look at the countless skyscrapers in Dubai, it is difficult to envision this city was once a fishing village," Sheikh says.
    Ayesha Islam (@ayeshazi) captured this impressive picture of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which she believes emphasizes the emirate's rapid transition from desert outpost to a global hub. "Dubai has become a global city inhabiting a diverse number of nationalities and is the leading business capital of the Middle East," she says.

    Bilbao, Spain

    "Bilbao, in the north of Spain, has undergone an intense process of urban renewal with the estuary of the River Nervión at its core," says local photographer, Carlos Copertone (@carloscopertone). He describes how the city, which "had turned its back to the river for decades," now uses it to reflect stunning modern buildings like the Guggenheim Museum and the Torre Iberdrola along its banks.
    Upcoming challenges include turning the estuary into urban transport route and the sustainable development of the nearby industrial area of Zorrotzaurre, transforming it into a well connected island that will integrate homes and small businesses, he adds.

    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    Vehicles are pictured speeding along a highway at night in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in this image captured by Ali Nasoor (@ali_kagawa). "This image portrays how an African city like Dar es Salaam is evolving to become a metropolitan city hand-in-hand with economical and sociological progress towards a new urban Tanzania," Nasoor says.

    Miami, United States

    A photo posted by Dr. Ken (@drthorthor) on

    An aerial view of the city of Miami, Florida, snapped from a helicopter by Dr. Ken Wilcox (@DrThorThor). He describes how Miami has grown from being considered a luxury playground and tourist site into a major city of banks, highrises and industry. And despite being home to large and bustling container port, the city has "maintained its incredible natural beauty of beaches and water front, style and glamor," he says.

    Manila, Philippines

    A photo posted by Rey Johnino (@reyjohnino) on

    Built upon the grounds of a former U.S. military base, the towers of Bonifacio Global City (BGC) near Manila, Philippines, have risen rapidly in recent years. According to BGC resident Rey Johnino Carinugan (@ReyJohnino), who posted this photo, the sound of chirping birds was once a common accompaniment to life in the area. Now, the white noise of car horns and heavy traffic is a more likely background track.

    A photo posted by Petim Maminta (@ipetim) on

    Another contributor to point out how rapidly buildings are being erected around the Manila metro area was Petim Maminta (@ipetim). She sent this picture of a crane stretching out over the skyline of Quezon City not far from the Filipino capital. "We used to see roofs of houses and now we see condominiums in the making," she says.

    Marseille, France

    The port city of Marseille in southern France is in full architectural, commercial and social revival mode, says Eric Charpentier (@explo_graph), as emphasized by this picture taken from the roof of MuCEM (the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations). MuCEM was opened in 2013 when Marseille was Europe's capital of Culture. Like many of the city's exciting new structures, it blends modern and ancient styles, Charpentier says.

    London, England

    Commuters wait at a packed tube station in London.
    Commuters wait at a packed tube station in London in this image posted by CNN commenter ertyturtle, who wonders whether the English capital will ever stop growing. "I've been living in London for 12 years and every year it feels like its inhabitants have doubled once more," she says. "The benefits of living in such a vibrant city are countless, there is a little bit of every country around the world to be found in London... but sometimes it feels like it is bursting at the seams."
    Check out some of the other images we received from readers throughout the #CNNMyCity project below.