24 Hours in the World’s Greatest Cities

Photos depicting urban centers around the world, from a morning commute in Addis Ababa to a night out in Havana.


7:26 p.m. Marrakech, Morocco

Photo by Matt Dutile

Spend enough time in a city and you’ll catch its rhythm. Some urban centers pulsate to the point of sensory overload, fueled by fast walkers and conspicuous consumption; others are muted by tree-lined streets and a leisurely tempo. Some appear to be deeply systematic, while others feel like a free-for-all. Rhythms can shift depending on the time of day, or season, or neighborhood. One thing is universal: A city is constantly in motion.

For millennia, city-dwellers comprised a small percentage of humanity, with most people living on farms or in villages. But after two centuries of industrialization and rapid urbanization, more than half of the world’s population today resides in a city.

The following photos offer glimpses of life in some of the world’s most captivating metropolises, as observed by 26 photographers across six continents. We see cities at all times of day and night, from the dim predawn light to the glow of a lone streetlamp helping someone find their way home.

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Left: 6:57 a.m. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Right: 5:00 a.m. Sydney, Australia

Left: Photo by Abinet Teshome; Right: Photo by Dmitry Osipenko


6:02 a.m. Bangkok, Thailand

Photo by Adam Birkan


7:41 a.m. Baotou, China

Photo by Antony Sojka


8:11 a.m. Johannesburg, South Africa

Photo by Gulshan Khan

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Left: 8:45 a.m. Barcelona, Spain; Right: 9:55 a.m. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Left: Photo by João Canziani; Right: Photo by Marco Argüello

Reflections in the window of a popular Sabich restaurant in the German Colony, Jerusalem, Israel.

11:30 a.m. Jerusalem, Israel

Photo by Ethan Welty


2:43 p.m. Lima, Peru

Photo by Luisa Dörr


3:30 p.m. London, England

Photo by Josh Edgoose

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Left: 3:30 p.m. Venice, Italy; Right: 4:00 p.m. San Francisco, United States

Left: Photo by Mandy Sham; Right: Photo by Kelsey McClellan


3:49 p.m. New York City, United States

Photo by Brian Finke


4:30 p.m. Mexico City, Mexico

Photo by Joe Perri


4:45 p.m. Moscow, Russia

Photo by Sasha Arutyunova

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Left: 5:00 p.m. London, England; Right: 5:00 p.m. Baku, Azerbaijan

Left: Photo by Sophie Green; Right: Photo by Mandy Sham


7:49 p.m. Tel Aviv, Israel

Photo by Dina Litovsky


Left: 7:15 p.m. Toronto, Canada; Right: 8:30–11:30 p.m. Chicago, United States

Left: Photo by Brendan George Ko; Right: Photo by Clarissa Bonet, courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago


8:19 p.m. Stockholm, Sweden

Photo by Felix Brüggemann

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Left: 8:45 p.m. Los Angeles, United States; Right: 12:01 a.m. Cali, Colombia

Left: Photo by Jake Michaels; Right: Photo by Rose Marie Cromwell


9:30 p.m. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Photo by Tasneem Alsultan


12:35 a.m. Havana, Cuba

Photo by Lisette Poole

Sarika Bansal is the editorial director of AFAR Magazine and editor of the book Tread Brightly: Notes on Ethical Travel.
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