Leith Street from Clock Tower of North British Hotel in the 1960s.

These 21 incredible images show how Edinburgh looked before the St James Centre

As work on the £1bn new St James complex in Edinburgh gathers pace, we peel back the layers of time to lift the lid on the area as it looked before the high street retailers and global shopping brands moved in, when it was still among the most densely-populated urban areas in all of Scotland.

Hundreds of families would be displaced when streets laced with ageing and often dilapidated tenements crashed to the ground under the weight of the wrecking ball to make way for a bus station (1956), followed by the St James Centre (1973) and the Omni Centre (2001), over the course of four decades. Here is a snapshot of what we lost to progress.

The gentle sloping curve of old Leith Street as viewed from the clocktower of the North British Hotel in the late 1940s.

1. Aerial view of Leith Street, 1949

The gentle sloping curve of old Leith Street as viewed from the clocktower of the North British Hotel in the late 1940s.
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Leith Street and its upper terrace boasted an array of different shops including John Collier men's tailors; Timpson shoe repairs and key cutting; H. Samuel jewellers and Boots the chemist.

2. Top of Leith Street

Leith Street and its upper terrace boasted an array of different shops including John Collier men's tailors; Timpson shoe repairs and key cutting; H. Samuel jewellers and Boots the chemist.
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The Leith Street tenements as viewed from Calton Road.

3. "Canyon" of tenements

The Leith Street tenements as viewed from Calton Road.
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Getting up Leith Street in heavy snow was a struggle back then just as it is now.

4. Leith Street in the snow, 1960s

Getting up Leith Street in heavy snow was a struggle back then just as it is now.
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