Ever think about what a particular place might have looked like in the past? Google is bringing that time travel ability to you virtually through Street View in Google Maps. As Google updates Street View images, naturally it replaces the old with the new. However, since Google already has amassed this historical photo data, it’s able to create what it calls a “digital time capsule of the world.” Unfortunately the images only date back to 2007, so don’t expect to see something like the Statue of Liberty being constructed.
“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,” Vinay Shet, Google Street View product manager, wrote in the Google Blog. “This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter.”
To activate this virtual time machine, look for a clock icon in the upper-left-hand corner of a Street View image. When clicked on, you can move a slider through time and view a thumbnail of that location, as seen in the past. Not all map locations will have this feature, and it probably isn’t worthwhile if a particular area hasn’t changed much since 2007, though.
This feature is currently available in the desktop version of Google Maps.