Everything had to start somewhere — and the biggest cities in the United States are no exception. New York City, Chicago, Houston and other huge metropolises were once beautiful, charming villages. Check out the earliest known maps and images of the quaint little towns that became massive conurbations.

1. New York City, New York (pop: 8,405,837) – New Amsterdam, (pop: 9,000), on a drawing by Johannes Vingboons, 1664, in the year it was conquered by the English:

(via Wikimedia Commons)

2. Los Angeles, California (pop: 3,884,307) – around 1870 (pop: 5,728)

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(via Water and Power)

3. Chicago, Illinois (pop: 2,718,782) – in 1860 (pop: 112,172)

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(via eBay)

4. Houston, Texas (pop: 2,195,914) – in 1873 (pop: 9,332 in 1870):

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(via Birdseye Views)

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (pop: 1,553,165) – on an engraving by Thomas Jefferys, 1768 (pop: 28,522 in 1790)

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(via Library of Congress)

6. Phoenix, Arizona (pop: 1,445,632) – in the 1880s (pop: 1,708 in 1880), on a map created by C. J. Dyer:

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(via Library of Congress)

7. San Antonio, Texas (pop: 1,409,019) – an aerial view on a litograph from 1873 (pop: 12,256 in 1870)

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(via Birdseye Views)