Travel Back in Time With Street View and Map Archives

The tools i The technology used to map our world is constantly improving and we take it for granted that we can see any part of the world in great detail through the screen of our phone or laptop.

As more data is collected and digitized, another opportunity opens up: to be able to take a step back in time — whether a year or a hundred years — to see what a place was like in the past.

Whether you’re researching the spread of urban sprawl or want to know what your street was like before the turn of the millennium, these are three key resources you should use.

Google Street View

Google has accumulated many years of Street View imagery.

Google through David Nield

You may be used to looking up addresses and locations using Google Street View, but did you know that you can use it to go back in time? You’re obviously limited by the dates for which Google actually has Street View imagery, but that now goes back decades in some areas. In addition, you can now access historical photos on both the web and Google Maps mobile apps.

To find them on Google Maps on the web, drag the peg man from the bottom right of the map interface to any location on the map (roads with Street View images will be highlighted in blue as you drag) . When you drop the peg, you will be shown the latest street-level images from this location.

Look at the top left: a small symbol on a clock next to the date in the photo means you can travel back in time. Click on the date to see your options, presented in the form of a timeline slider, then drag back and forth to see images of the available dates in the preview window. To see the full image, click on the magnifying glass or images.

Open Google Maps on Android or iOS and you’ll find the same functionality, which will allow you to see how areas have developed over time. Here you need to tap and hold a road, then tap the Dropped Pin card at the bottom to access Street View. Once you’ve loaded it to full screen, reopening the card will give you a link See more dates if older images are available.

Old maps online

Old Maps Online links to a number of other resources.

Old maps online through David Nield

There are a variety of map file portals on the web, but Old Maps Online is one of the most comprehensive and a good starting point no matter where or when you are looking for it. To get started, click Find a place or choose Explore Old Maps if you want to see what’s available for your location.

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