Four New Featured Google Earth Layers

[NOTE: for the “Rumsey Historical Maps” you must be running the latest Google Earth 4 (released November 1st). Download here. Also, you may have to change the “Tools>Options>General>LanguageSettings” to “English“.]
New Feature Layers in Google EarthGoogle has quietly introduced four new Featured Content Layers today. Go to the Layers on the lower left and look for “Featured Content“. Open the folder and look for the new layers at the top. Each is marked with a red “New!“. Here’s a brief overview of the new layers:

  • Rumsey Historical Maps – This is a collection of historical maps which you can overlay over their location on Earth. If you are not running Google Earth 4, you will not see this layer. Open the folder and turn on the map that interests you. The first link shows you the locations of the different map and each description gives you a few details. You can then turn on each map and they will be overlayed in GE. The maps are “regionated” which means they will load more detail as you get closer (it also means the images are scanned at a very high resolution). I’m sure some of my mapping friends like Jonathan Crowe will be curious to see these. See Rumsey’s Google blog entry about the maps.
  • Tracks4Africa – this is my favorite of the new layers. There are maps of places to go in Africa built by compiling data from GSP tracks. The layer also has lots useful information and photos. Zoom in closer to see more detail. You can read more, and buy the maps for your GPS, by going to Tracks4Africa‘s web site.
  • Spotlight on Africa – This is a collection of placemarks showing the flag of each country of Africa. The placemark description includes an overview of basic information of each country from the CIA World Factbook. The placemarks were developed by the National Geographic My Wonderful World campaign to help kids become more geographically aware. This is nicely done, but you can see the whole world done in a similar fashion in this collection.
  • European Space Agency – this layer shows ESA logo placemarks of different locations where a satellite photo can be viewed of that location. A small picture is in the placemark description, and a link to a page where you can see a larger picture. I am disappointed that you can’t just view the larger pictures overlayed in Google Earth though.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Fantastic! I’vwe been dying for Google to put in the South African street network. Including the excellent T4A data is certainly a step in the right direction!
    Now for automatic driving directions…

  2. I’m not seeing the historical maps in my layers, but I do see the other new ones. Am I missing something?

  3. Ben,
    You need to open the “Rumsey Historical Maps” folder and turn on one of the options. It is a “radio button” folder which means only one map can be viewed at a time. Or, when you are done, you can select “Turn Maps Off”.

  4. I think you also need the newest version of Google Earth.

  5. The same for me : No “Rumsey Historical Maps”,
    No folder, no radio button to turn.
    Bob, MacUser.

  6. GoogleEarthVersion : 4.0.2413 (beta)
    News :
    – Tracks4Africa
    – Spotlight on Africa
    – European Space Agency
    But no Historical maps…
    Can you show a screen capture to show us where is the folder?

  7. Had the same problem, until i changed Tools>Options>General>LanguageSettings to “English”.

  8. You’ll need to be running the latest version of Google Earth 4 Beta (from November 1st).

  9. Thok, I have a mac version… Impossible to change the language.

  10. Doesn’t work under linux, since the last linux version is 4.0.2091 🙁

  11. Jonathan, I just checked with Google. Try downloading GE again. The Linux version was updated on November 1st as well.

  12. BoyTheEarthTalksTo says

    In the Mac version you have to open the “Featured Content” folder under “Layers”. you will see the Rumsey Collection and much more there….Cheers.

  13. Stop saying to download the last version, we did that. The real problem is that it’s impossible to see those historical maps because :
    – It works only with the PC version.
    – Impossible on Mac or Linux.
    – Only with English version.
    – Impossible to change language on the Mac version.
    – …
    So, go back to work, guys, and finish the job.

  14. I just confirmed the Rumsey maps do work on the Mac (at least on my English version on a MacBook). I’m using version 4.0.2413 of GE (free version).

  15. Clive Carter says

    The Mac version works fine on my PowerBook G4.
    I am running Tiger 10.4.8 and Google Earth 4.0.2413 (beta). Google/View/Sidebar; Layers, Core, Rumsey Historical Maps. [radio buttons].
    London in 1843 comes up beautifully.
    Thank you Google.

  16. the Linux version works here.

  17. I also don’t see it on a Mac, v. 4.0.2413 and in German.
    No way to change language.
    But I have:
    European Space Agency
    Spotlight on Africa
    want to have historical maps!

  18. “Rumsey Historical Maps” doesn’t work on my Windows XP Home Edition PC unless you are logged on with an Administrator Account!

  19. I just wish they’d spell the name of my country properly – That’s “Solomon Islands” not “Soloman Islands” if anyone from Google is listening.

  20. there is an annying map in the top left hand side of my Google Earth, how do I get rid of it?

  21. I don’t see any of those things. I have the latest version of GE. Under Layers, I have Primary Databse with a bunch of things but I don’t have Featured Content anywhere. Am I missing something?

  22. SpyD, don´t worry. It´s located under primary database>gallery.

  23. i have a pc and when i click on the rumsey maps they dont sow up

  24. Hello. I had wanted to ask about the Historical Map part of google earth. Should I be able to type in a residential address to see how it looked in, let’s say for example, 1965?

  25. I have opened the “Rumsey Historical Maps” folder and turn on the options. The map came up and covered north and south America. When I was done, I couldn’t Turn off the Maps even after unchecking. When in the sun or moon mode the map is still there. I have version Is there a “Turn Maps Off” button? If so I haven’t found it.

  26. Kirsty Pullinger says

    Help I have resorted in vain to uninstalling and reinstalling google earth and it still has the rumsey map over the UK and it is preventing me from using GE to its full extent as street view etc are not visible.

  27. These maps are like a STD (once you’ve got one…)

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.