Whenever I watch the Back to the Future trilogy, I always muse over the possibility of time travel and if we would ever be able to go back in time. Imagine if we could go back in time and see New York of 1970’s with everyone walking in those bell bottom jeans or in 1910’s when hats were big in fashion both for men and women. Although full blown time travel in the past is not going to be possible in the near future (see the pun), you can still enjoy looking at the places as they looked years ago using Google Maps.
Yes Google has done it again. Since the Google Maps started many years ago, they have collected a large amount of the street view data of any place. Google updates this data every so often, so now they have the street view data of multiple years for many places. Google is generous and has integrated all this data from multiple years right inside the Google Maps – allowing you to view the same place as it looked in all those different years. For example, you can see the streets of Buffalo, New York from the data collected in 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
In order to get on board with this virtual time machine, you can visit the Google Maps as usual by visiting maps.google.com. You have to look for any city, place or address you are interested in. Then switch to the street view mode for any street, by dragging the small yellow person on any street visible in the map.
Once the street view is shown for the selected street, you can click on the small time icon and choose the month-year from which the street view data is to be displayed. In the following screen shot, you can see that I can pick Sep 2007, Sep 2011, Sep 2012 and Sep 2014 for Howard Street in Buffalo, New York. (Now I wish Google street views had started much much earlier in 1990s).
Conclusion: You can have some taste of time time travel by going back in the history and look at the buildings and places as they looked in the years gone by using Google Maps street view.