Google Maps helps people navigate in unfamiliar places, dream about places they’d like to go, and, as of today, become time travelers.
A new feature has been unveiled as part of the familiar Street View section of Google Maps. The street-level snapshots are excellent for offering a perspective of a chosen area. However, since representatives from Google have been sending camera-equipped cars to locations over the past seven years, it’s now possible for users to see what places looked like over that large span of time.
Vinay Shet is a project manager who helped this new Google Maps feature come to life. He said, “As time goes by, many of these images are going to become vintage,” and also talked about how the ongoing project aims to be a “digital mirror of the world.”
Although there are already seven years worth of imagery to explore on Google Maps, the amount of time seems poised to grow. According to an Associated Press feature about this new Google Maps functionality, Google’s photo-taking vehicles will continue to make the rounds through the same places that are already highlighted through the time travel feature, so that’s reason enough to keep your eyes peeled for future developments.
If you’re a person who loves to see how famous places have changed over time, Google Maps has your needs in mind. By using the new feature, it’s possible to glimpse how notable spots like the New York skyline gradually looked different as the Freedom Tower was built to replace the World Trade Center.
Get a realistic look at how natural disasters can dramatically alter areas, too. One such place, Tohoku, Japan, was shaken by an earthquake that registered a 9.0 magnitude, and Google photos documented the aftermath. The effects of Hurricane Katrina are also profiled through the Google Maps addition, because they show about how devastated neighborhoods were able to start down the road to recovery after diligent efforts from community members and aid workers alike.
If you’re under the impression Google only uses traditional cars to capture the images, that’s not a correct assumption. Dedicated to the daunting task of grabbing snapshots from all seven continents for this freshly-unveiled Google Maps extra, the developers attached cameras to all sorts of moving things, from snowmobiles, to a backpack being carried by a person on the move.
Some of the Google Maps footage was never released prior to the release of this new time-travel capability. If you’re a history buff or even just remotely curious about how time affects locations, it’s well worth a look. Just click the clock icon once you’re inside of Street View on Google Maps. You may not be able to be a time traveler who hops through generations as freely as Dr. Who, but a seven-year period can still offer a very fascinating look at transition.