Lots can happen in 10 years, especially for an entire city. Of course, it’s always nice when a city grows and gets better, but this is not always the case. With all the technological advances and economic shifts that have happened since the new millennium, here are seven cities that drastically changed over the last decade.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Skyline of Dubai
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Dubai is probably the city that has changed the most, not only in this decade but in the past five decades. In the 1950s, Dubai was barely even a city. With the discovery of oil came an influx of money. The area exploded and continues to grow faster than just about any other city on the planet.

Today, steady construction continues, and travelers flock to the desert city in droves. Around 71% of the permanent residents are expatriates — people who moved there from another country. During the last decade, the Dubai metro was completed, the tallest skyscraper in the world was finished, a second international airport was constructed (to compensate for its first airport becoming the busiest in the world) and dozens of new high-rise hotel and apartment buildings were added to the skyline. Check out this video for a complete time-lapse of how Dubai has changed over the years.

Houston, Texas

Skyline of Houston, TX
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Houston is one of the quickest-growing cities in the United States due to a boom in the housing market. People are steadily moving to this area that promotes industrial and commercial growth.

In the past 10 years, more than 22 new skyscrapers joined the Houston skyline, 32 million square feet of new industrial space were constructed, and the median income has increased by about $10,000 annually. Despite the growing population and economy, Houston has been hit by several storms and historic flooding that seems to be getting worse every year. It’ll be interesting to see if the growth continues for the next decade or whether climate change will pose a greater threat and force people to move away. Only time will tell.


Aerial view of Singapore at sunset
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After sustaining some economic hardships in 2009, Singapore has revamped its economic model with a greater push toward tourism and service industries instead of relying only on exporting as they used to. With that change came growth. Singapore’s population is higher than ever and experiencing a steady increase while a number of new construction projects have transformed the skyline.

The Gardens by the Bay were built in 2012 as both a tourist attraction and to showcase the green initiatives put into place by the city. The gardens feature the world’s largest glass greenhouse, 1.5 million plants, and impressive artificial Supertrees. More than 50 million people have visited the gardens since they opened.

St. Louis, Missouri

View of St. Louis arch and courthouse
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St. Louis was once a city full of history and power. At one point it was ranked the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States. Today, it sits in 21st place. Since its peak in the 1950s, St. Louis’s population has been the fastest shrinking in America. In the past decade, those numbers haven’t changed.

Today, the population of the city is about half of what it was at its peak. With the decrease in population comes a decrease in jobs and manufacturing. About one in four St. Louis residents is below the poverty line, and the average household income is $36,000 annually, which is almost half of the national average.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai skyline at sunset
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In 1982, about 12 million people called Shanghai home. Today, more than 26 million people live within the city limits. The city has expanded so much in the past few decades that it can be seen from space.

The unprecedented expansion has continued during the 2010s. A large portion of the tallest skyscrapers in the city, including the tallest in all of China, were built within the past 10 years. Shanghai today looks much different than it did at the end of 2009.

Seoul, South Korea

Twilight sky at han river Seoul
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South Korea has gone through its fair share of political turmoil, especially when it comes to relationships with its neighbor North Korea. But in the past decade, the country has seen a tremendous upswing in prosperity and population.

Today, Seoul houses more than 50 percent of the country’s residents and is one of the most affluent cities in Asia. It has continued development of its technology industry, making Seoul one of the most high-tech cities in the world. Major innovations like Long Term Evolution (LTE, a 4G wireless communications standard) were developed within the city.

Denver, Colorado

Denver skyline
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Denver, and most Colorado cities in general, have seen tremendous population growth over the past decade. From the 2010 census to a 2017 estimate, the state population grew by an astounding 11.5 percent. In particular, thousands of residents are flocking to the capital city of Denver each year.

There has also been an age shift that has taken place during the past 10 years. The average age in Denver today is 34.5. With the population boom that has been taking place, more and more young people are moving to the city. Tourism has also become a major industry in Denver. New records have been set for the past 12 consecutive years for the number of tourists visiting the city.