Image: The Kotel (Western Wall) in 1968
I had never seen a picture from this period before - I only saw pictures from before 1967 or from 1972, when I first visited Israel myself (we were supposed to come in 1970, but my grandfather passed away ten days before we were supposed to leave the US).
When Israel liberated the Old City in 1967, the Arabs had built houses until a few feet away from the Wall. Those houses were torn down, and the plaza was cleared to look more like it does today.
Over the years, the level of the plaza has been lowered in order to separate a prayer area from a more general congregating area in the back.
When I lived in the Old City for a year (1978-79), most of the construction near the Wall itself had been finished (until they decided to lower the plaza level again), but there was still a lot of construction in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. In 1972, the entire Jewish quarter was under construction....