Before and after: Stunning photos from around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic

June 4, 2020
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Before and after: Stunning photos from around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 changed not only the world's health landscape, but its visual landscape.

Lockdowns were announced. Destinations from beaches to town squares emptied. Freeways became barren. Conference centers and stadiums became field hospitals and food banks. 

On the bright side, pollution and traffic congestion diminished.

Words and statistics can only do so much justice to the staggering fault lines between then and now. Stacker dug through image databases to tell the visually stunning before-and-after story of the world in 2020.

Looking at major cities and the most populous destinations—from Tokyo to New York City—the following is a dramatic illustration of COVID-19’s impact.

Related: New normal: Worshiping in the age of COVID-19

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Vincent Isore/IP3 // Getty Images

Before: Jingshan Park, Beijing, China

Beijing’s Jingshan Park overlooks the Forbidden City on Feb. 17, 2018.

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NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

After: Jingshan Park, Beijing, China

Messages are left prior to the Lunar New Year on Jan. 25, 2020, two days after the location emptied out as a result of the Wuhan lockdown.

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Vittorio Zunino Celotto // Getty Images

Before: San Marco Square, Venice, Italy

Activity in San Marco Square during Carnival festivities on Feb. 16, 2020.

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Marco Di Lauro // Getty Images

After: San Marco Square, Venice, Italy

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a national emergency on March 9, by which time the same square is empty.

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Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Before: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy

Popular shopping and tourist destination Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is pictured here on May 3, 2016.

 

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MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

After: Vittorio Emanuele II Galleria, Milan, Italy

The Galleria is deserted on March 10 after national restrictions to control the deadly coronavirus.

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VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy

The famed tourist attraction is pictured on May 4, 2019.

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ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

After: Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy

The same steps, now deserted on March 12.

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Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Before: Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles’ 110 Freeway on Feb. 2, 2019.

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APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

After: Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is shut down on March 15; the empty 110 is pictured here.

 

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KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Millenium Park, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s "Cloud Gate" in Millennium Park is seen here on March 13, the same day COVID-19 was declared a national emergency.

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Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After: Millenium Park, Chicago, Illinois

Cloud Gate on March 21, when a stay-at-home order went into effect.

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David Ramos // Getty Images

Before: La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona’s famous basilica La Sagrada Familia in October 2015.

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David Ramos // Getty Images

After: La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

The Spanish government declared a 15-day state of emergency on March 17, as cases surpassed 10,000.

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Frédéric Soltan // Corbis via Getty Images

Before: Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro's iconic Ipanema Beach in November 2015.

 

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Wagner Meier // Getty Images

After: Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ipanema Beach after the lockdown on March 21, 2020, as Brazil’s cases approached 1,000.

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Robert Alexander // Getty Images

Before: Grand Central Terminal, New York City

The Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal in New York City in September 2017.

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Spencer Platt // Getty Images

After: Grand Central Terminal, New York City

The same concourse is nearly empty on March 22, 2020.

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Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Before: Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu is one of the largest in the world—pictured here on April 4, 2015.

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Prabin Ranabhat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

After: Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

Boudhanath on March 26, 2020, the third day of a nationwide lockdown.

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Azim Khan Ronnie/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Before: Sadarghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh

The busy Sadarghat Port in Bangladesh’s capital city on April 13, 2019.

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Md. Rakibul Hasan/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

After: Sadarghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh

The Sadarghat launch terminal is quiet by the third day of the shutdown on March 27.

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Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/LightRocket via Getty Images

Before: Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya crossing in Tokyo on March 5, 2017.

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Massimo Rumi/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

After: Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

The crossing on March 28, 2020, amidst stay-at-home weekend orders.

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KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Javits Center, New York City

The annual Toy Fair at the Javits Center on Feb. 24, 2020, missing the China Pavilion as output in the world’s largest toymaker country slowed markedly.

 

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John Lamparski // Getty Images

After: Javits Center, New York City

On March 30, the Army Corps of Engineers established a temporary 1,000-bed field hospital in the Javits Center.

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LISA DUCRET/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Bubbles in the air at the Brandenburg Gate on April 8, 2019.

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Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

After: Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

The iconic Brandenburg Gate on March 31, 2020.

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RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Revolution Monument, Mexico City

The Revolution Monument in Mexico City on April 6, 2017.

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Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

After: Revolution Monument, Mexico City

The monument on April 1, 2020, after nonessential activities were halted.

 

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TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Piccadilly Circus, London, England

Pedestrians in London’s Piccadilly Circus in October 2017.

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ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images

After: Piccadilly Circus, London, England

Piccadilly Circus on April 9, 2020, as Britain’s cases eclipsed 60,000.

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Marcelo del Pozo // Getty Images

Before: Holy Week in Seville, Spain

Pictured on April 19, 2019, Semana Santa or ”Holy Week” brings over 1 million people to Seville the week before Easter.

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Marcelo del Pozo // Getty Images

After: Holy Week in Seville, Spain

A woman walks with her dog in front of Basilica de la Macarena on April 9, 2020.

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Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Before: United Center, Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks score in Game 2 of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 3.

 

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Jason Whitman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After: United Center, Chicago

On April 17, 2020, the United Center floor holds nonperishable food for those in need.

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Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Before: India Gate Monument, New Delhi

Smog engulfs New Delhi’s India Gate monument on Nov. 2, 2019, in New Delhi.

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Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

After: India Gate Monument, New Delhi

By April 20, 2020, air pollution minimized and blue skies emerged.

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Leon Neal // Getty Images

Before: Rue de la Loi, Brussels, Belgium

Traffic during rush hour near the European council buildings on March 2, 2020.

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Thierry Monasse // Getty Images

After: Rue de la Loi, Brussels, Belgium

On April 22, Rue de la Loi is empty as cases surpassed 40,000 in Belgium.

 

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BANDAR ALDANDANI/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Great Mosque of Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Muslim worshippers gather around Islam's holiest shrine, the Kaaba, at the Great Mosque of Mecca during Ramadan on May 31, 2019.

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BANDAR AL-DANDANI/AFP via Getty Images

After Great Mosque of Mecca, Saudi Arabia

The Great Mosque is deserted at the beginning of Ramadan on April 24, 2020.

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LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Paris, France

The Esplanade du Trocadero by the Eiffel Tower on May 9, 2017.

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PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

After: Paris, France

A woman in a face mask on May 11, 2020, when France began easing coronavirus precautions.

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Robert Alexander // Getty Images

Before: City Hall in San Francisco, California

The City Hall complex in San Francisco on May 15, 2013.

 

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Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

After: City Hall in San Francisco, California

On May 18, 2020, San Francisco opened its first temporary sanctioned tent encampment with a safe sleeping area and marked spots for social distancing.

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LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images

Before: Mykonos windmills, Greece

Tourists at the Mykonos windmills on May 3, 2019.

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Byron Smith // Getty Images

After: Mykonos windmills, Greece

On May 25, 2020, Mykonos’ Little Venice neighborhood in Mykonos is sanitized as the country plans to ease travel restrictions.

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Chris McGrath // Getty Images

Before: Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul's famous bustling Grand Bazaar—pictured here on May 30, 2018— is the world’s largest covered market.

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Elif Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

After: Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

The Grand Bazaar, closed on March 23, 2020, is pictured here on May 30, 2020, as it prepares to reopen June 1.

 

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