• 04.23.14

Travel Back In Time With Historic Google Street View Images

A new feature effectively doubles the amount of Google Street View imagery, bringing its coverage to about 12 million miles.

It’s not a Google X project, but the Mountain View, Calif. search giant has built a time machine of sorts using historic Street View imagery. A feature rolling out Wednesday will show images from past Street View collections dating back to 2007.

The construction of the Freedom TowerImage: Google
The construction of the 2014 World Cup Stadium in BrazilImage: Google

“Now with Street View, you can see a landmark’s growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil,” wrote Vinay Shet, Google Street View product manager, in a blog post. “This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter.”

With this feature turned on, Google has effectively doubled its Street View imagery. Prior, it had about 6 million miles of Street View imaging on Google Maps, and it now has about 12 million miles. Users can tell if a location has past photos if there is an hourglass icon on the upper left corner of a Street View panorama. Available for desktops currently, the feature shows thumbnails of older Street Views, which users can explore more in depth after clicking the image.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.