Want to see how your neighborhood has evolved over the past seven years or so? You may just be able to skip the TARDIS or DeLorean and zip back in time through Google Maps on the desktop. Google added “time travel” to its popular Street View feature last year, and it works best when you type in a specific address or landmark when you start your Google Maps search.
When Google Maps locates the address, switch to Street View if you’re not there already. (Note that it you live in a remote area, you may not have much Street to View, but Google has driven around and mapped quite a bit of the world already.)
In the upper-left corner of a Street View image, click the tiny clock icon to see a strip of series of pictures going back in time. Click the various dates on the timeline to see what the address looked like back then. Select a photo to see it bigger in the main window. In some cases, you may be able to see as far back as 2007, although your results may vary based on the address — and how often Google drove by to take a picture since it started the Street View project.
Google’s Time Travel feature can also be a poignant visual history lesson, as you can see the new World Trade Center tower rising in lower Manhattan or parts of New Orleans slowly coming back after a the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It’s not a complete record of a location’s evolution but it can show you that yes, time marches on — and we got pictures to prove it.