Tip: Use Google Maps to Go Back in Time

Posted on May 18, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Web browsers with 8 Comments

Google Maps has a cool feature that lets you view Street View imagery from various points in the past. It’s like time travel!

I’m sure that most people are familiar with the Street View feature in Google Maps (on the web): You find a location in Maps, select the Browse Street View images icon (it resembles a little yellow stickman) inn the lower right, and then drag it to any highlighted area on the map to see that thing as if you were there. For example, here’s what Street View looks like for the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Street View is fun and useful for any number of reasons. For example, I’ve used it with a VR headset to virtually “walk” around different locations. But there’s a fairly recent new feature that is particularly nice: you can “go back in time” and see the current view as it was in the past. Your options will vary by location, but you should see several years of choices. And you access this new feature by selecting the clock icon in the upper right when in Street View:

Here’s what it looks like for the building that houses the apartment we just purchased over time.

November 2008

April 2019

March 2021

Current

I’ve been looking at various locations to see the differences. In our area of Mexico City, for example, I can go back to 2008. But our previous home in Dedham, Massachusetts only has images dating back to 2012.

Pretty cool.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Tip: Use Google Maps to Go Back in Time”

  1. yoshi

    This is pretty neat. I never knew it existed.

  2. JustDavid

    Maps still shows my apartment is in a vacant field.

  3. ecumenical

    This is a very cool feature and it's awesome that you're sharing it with more people - but as a commenter on the internet, I'm contractually obligated to point out that it's been around since 2014 :)

  4. Jim Lewis

    The time-travel feature has also been in Google Earth Pro (the downloadable app) for some time, too. It's useful for a homeowners' association that doesn't keep the greatest records in the world to figure out what happened when in the neighborhood going back decades. In Google Earth Pro, use the "Show Historical Imagery...." on the Toolbar. The toolbar feature in Google Earth Pro not available for all regions of the world, IIRC.

    • Jim Lewis

      P.S. The Google Earth Pro historical imagery also seems to go a bit further back in time, too (into the 1990's where I live) than the Google Maps Street View option.

  5. zorb56

    This feature is particularly striking when used in Detroit. It is sad but intriguing to see many a city block go from (relatively) populated and maintained to completely vacant/barren and see all of the stages in between.

  6. redbreva

    I have known about and used this feature here in the UK for over a year - so not a 'New' feature, perhaps just a wider availability?

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