See Why Beirut Was Once Known As 'The Paris Of The Middle East'

Beirut experienced a renaissance of sorts in the mid-20th century.

Following World War II, the Lebanese capital became a tourist destination and financial capital, nicknamed “the Paris of the Middle East” thanks to its French influences and vibrant cultural and intellectual life.

That changed when civil war broke out in 1975, ravaging the city. Beirut has been rebuilt in the decades since (despite occasional violence), and is one again becoming a popular place for travellers.

Charles W. Cushman, an avid traveller and amateur photographer, visited Beirut in its heyday in 1965 and captured some stunning photos of everyday life in the city. These photos are being shared with permission from the Indiana University Archives.

In the 1960s, Beirut was a popular tourist destination and cosmopolitan city.

Cushman snapped this photo of the Mediterranean from the top of the Excelsior Hotel.

The trendy Excelsior was a popular escape. Check out that pool.

The St. George hotel was another glamorous destination. Like much of the city it was also shuttered during the Civil War. Although it was partially renovated, a bomb exploded there in 2005, killing 22, and the building has remained empty ever since.

But when Cushman visited, the city was still in its heyday.

Beirut's architecture was heavily influenced by France, since the French gained control of the formerly Ottoman-ruled region after World War I.

The city became known as 'the Paris of the Middle East.'

There were even merchants selling croissants on the streets.

Cushman took several candid shots in and around bustling Parliament Square.

Check out that car in the background -- it looks like a '50s Cadillac.

An elderly man walked through the market ...

... a sidewalk vendor drew a crowd ...

... and goods were sold on the street.

Another candid shot from the city streets.

A group of school boys mugged for the camera.

Passengers rode the tram past Parliament Square.

Cushman snapped this photo during an evening stroll along the city's sea wall.

The caption on this one reads, 'Fisherman on mossy rocks.'

More fishermen fussed with a net.

Cushman shot this photo from the top of the Starco building, a well-known high rise built in the early 1960s. A bomb went off in front of the building in 2013, killing six.

Even in 1965, buildings were in disrepair.

Cushman marked this photo 'tenement.'

This narrow building was photographed near the port.

A gentleman wore a classic fez.

'Local children and woman.'

Oil was delivered by horse.

'A little shrine in a flower garden.'

'A once proud building in Ras,' Cushman wrote.

Children walked by a mosque.

The landscape was lush. 'Lebanese valley and mountains seen from moving coach,' wrote Cushman.

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