Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look now.

This week our main image shows the familiar open space of Piccadilly Gardens in the 1970s. The area is festooned with formal flower beds and neatly cut trees.

These were all replaced in 2002 with the opening of the concrete pavilion and water feature designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

It is fair to say that the new development was not universally popular. Some dubbed the concrete pavilion ‘the Berlin Wall’ and bemoaned its ‘cold and modernistic look.’

piccadilly gardens then piccadilly gardens now

 
There were problems with the new turf too as it quickly turned to mud after overuse. The grass cover looks much better in photographer Nicola Mazzuia’s modern picture.

The remodelling of Piccadilly Gardens formed part of the huge rebuilding project to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games. At the time, the square was looking tired and run-down.

Around £10 million was spent on the redevelopment which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award in 2003.

The square at Piccadilly Gardens is the main axis of Manchester’s transport system. There are two Metrolink tram stops as well as the bus station. Manchester Piccadilly rail station is a few minutes’ walk away.

The bus station was opened on the site of the demolished infirmary in 1931. It was extended in 1933 and ran the full length of Parker Street by 1935.