Rare Photographs Showcase 19th Century China

This archive of photographs from the 1860s and 1870s shows us a rare glimpse of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing in the early days of photography.

These rare images are part of Stephan Loewentheil’s impressive photo archive, giving us insight into a country before its rise to power and size.

CNN has a collection of these images, showcasing some of the 15,000+ images that Loewentheil has amassed over the last several decades.

Many of the photographs are hand colored, and show simple street scenes, laborers, as well as dignitaries and people of prominence. We are struck by how much had changed, and how the Chinese landscapes would be entirely unrecognizable in today’s modern metropolis.