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Photography project showcases Waterloo then and now

Two locals recreated five pictures spanning from 1880 to 1972, depicting a Waterloo that has preserved some of its historical architecture while experiencing immense growth

Ever wonder how Waterloo has changed over the last 150 years? 

Two Waterloo locals have been recreating photos from the past, offering a side-by-side comparison of the city through the ages to now. 

Ricky Martin (no, not that Ricky Martin) is a graphic designer who grew up just outside of Waterloo, though he fondly considers the city to be his hometown.

A few years ago he read a Maclean's article where they compared photos of cities throughout the ages across Canada, to see how they’ve grown.  

“I’m really fascinated by things like this, so I had it in the back of my mind that it would be a fun thing to do sometime,” he said. “And then more recently, I found that article in the Waterloo Chronicle that had some old pictures of Uptown Waterloo in it.”

Wanting to see more, he went to the source of the pictures: the Waterloo Public Library’s database.  

“So I just had fun looking through those, and then I thought it’d be fun to take four or five of them and try to take an updated photo from the exact same place,” to compare then and now.

After reaching out to his photographer friend, Trent Weber, the pair got to work.

The photos they chose span from King and Erb in 1880 to an aerial shot of the Marsland Centre in 1972. They tried to pick photos to recreate that featured at least one building still standing today, even if they might look a little different. 

“The first thing that stood out to me was noticing buildings that I recognized, that are still standing along King Street. I thought it was really cool to see how a bunch of architecture from way back then is still preserved today,” he said. 

Martin expected the process to be fairly simple, but getting the exact angle of each photo turned out to be more tedious than planned. 

“We basically just did it through trial and error, where we take a few photos then pop the memory card into a laptop to see how the photo looked overlaid with the original, and tried to figure out where the camera needed to move for the next shot to be lined up.”

The whole process only took about six hours total to complete. 

“It ended up being more difficult than I thought going into it, to try to line up the shot,” he said. “But in the end, I was quite happy with how it turned out.” 

Martin said they started the project "out of love" for the city, and that he hopes people are inspired to continue contributing to the "growth and betterment" of it.

“It’s really cool to see what’s been preserved from before, and through these photos, you can see how Waterloo has grown, and yet still preserved some of its history," he said. “More than anything, I hope people just have an appreciation for the city and an inspiration to continue to see it grow and flourish.” 

You can view all the pictures here

Martin also filmed the entire experience and uploaded it on YouTube. You can watch it here.   

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