New York City in Photo-Realistic 3D Now in Google Earth

Google has updated the 3D buildings in Google Earth for New York City! This is a HUGE update with at least hundreds (if not thousands) of new 3D buildings with photo textures applied. Basically, Google has completed nearly every building in Manhattan Island for Google Earth. Just fly to “New York City” and turn on the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth. Tilt your view so you can see the buildings in all their glory. This is the largest city i’ve seen done with photo-realistic textures to date.
As a comparison, here is what New York’s 3D photo-realistic buildings looked like in January 2007:

And here is what it looks like today (click on the image for a high resolution version made with Google Earth Pro):

By the way, many people had already contributed dozens of photo-realistic 3D buildings to NYC since January 2007. And Google has faithfully kept those models in the layer while adding in the new buildings to fill in the gap.
I plan to create a video fly through soon. In the meantime, check it out for yourself in Google Earth now. By the way, there’s a cool way of flying around buildings in Google Earth 4.3+ – You can swoop between buildings like Spiderman…. read this story for tips.

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.


  1. “This is the largest city i’ve seen done with photo-realistic textures to date.”
    Errrm didn’t VE do this over a year ago? And that’s not even the biggest city they have done. If you go to LA, you will see that the 3D city model even extends very far east, including the entire Inland Empire.

  2. @Pete: You’re right. I should have made my statement more clear. This is the largest number of buildings for a single city I’ve seen Google release with their new photo-realistic texture methodology. The city of Berlin actually did a similarly quite large city, but was not nearly as optimized and resided on their own servers. Berlin was much harder to view because of performance issues.

  3. Jonny Cheung says:

    Fantastic! I would love to see Hong Kong like this!

  4. yeah, berlin is slow loading, but NYC isn’t that much faster neither….;-(

  5. Was Paris always completely with grey buildings ?

  6. All Paris buildings are on 3d !

  7. Wow! would like to see Trondheim like this!

  8. I don’t know how to tilt my view, can you help me? I thought I could but I can’t. Thank you!

  9. you can use “page up” and “page down” key to tilt

  10. This is extremely cool, but it looks to me that with a few exceptions, most of the buildings stop at 96th St. So your claim of “nearly every building in Manhattan Island” is a bit exaggerated — there’s a lot more to the north!
    Kind of unfortunate that it stops there, actually, as this is right about where Harlem starts. So… who made that decision? Are Harlem and Inwood just not as important as the rich whiteys to the south?

  11. Even at a medium-rez this is pretty cool. I did this NYC fly-through on an older PC with only 128MB cache and added music and the file is still is about 1.6mb after rendering. It’s not photo-realistic, but it’s good enough for a lot of uses, IMO.

  12. @Alex
    I doubt its that Harlem and Inwood are less important, as you can see most of this was user submitted, so maybe no one has created the 3D models of this. While racism is still a big problem in this country, I find it hard to believe that a company like Google has a racist agenda.

  13. This is pretty cool. I wonder what other cities they mught do?

  14. You can already see Trondheim like this:
    but not with Google Earth.

  15. Nice update. Google Earth is the kind of soft we, at Geeks3D, love!

  16. Please take some time and update the cities in Romania, we have roads the too. We can’t use Google Maps or Earth at all and because that we use Yahoo Maps … so … think about it.

  17. No offense to anybodys work, i think that what you have is amazing but my question is why, whats the point?

  18. We contributed Paris in 3D as Gray but will add textured buildings as we develop our commercial market. We also added Waikiki and a dozen other cities mainly in the US. Cities like Sacramento, Manhattan Beach, Long Beach, El Segundo and Santa Monica. We created Washington DC as well.

  19. huemaurice says:

    I wait to see people in the windows which make for me ‘hello’ in passing !

  20. @Brandon: Not convinced that Google not 3d mapping Harlem shows that they have a racist agenda.
    Still, this looks great. Please do the same for London!

  21. That’s very neat, Frank, to see the major contrast in comparison between then and now. Thanks for sharing that and all the stuff you point-out.

  22. i love 3d buildings,and look forwarding for your video.

  23. Judy Tooley says:

    Is there any way I can update Google Earth? Mine
    is freezing up before it processes.
    judy tooley

  24. Elizabeth G says:

    I love google earth so much and these 3D buildings. A virtual trip to NY is FREE!!!

  25. I can’t see the 3d buildings. The 3d buildings setting in the layers menu is on, but when i look at Manhatten it’s all flat. Does anyone know why?

  26. Hy I have noting to say. 😛

  27. fantastic,,,,,,,,,,,,
    i wish i could one day visit USA NEW YORK CITY
    THE most beautiful city in the world

  28. Here is a browser based full textual 3D Manhattan map with interactive features to allow you browse for local businesses and events. Looks much cooler than Google 3D map, also fast to navigate around.
    check out:

  29. Cool! When will they add this feature to other cities in the world?

  30. Can this be used in a game?

  31. I would like to see newark like this, and East Orange, and Irvington, as well as Wilmington, NC.

  32. This is really cool! I agree with a previous commenter…I’d like to see Honk Kong like this as well! What an image that would be!

  33. I know this thread is old, but i wanted to share this google earth look-alike. They have an amazing flypass feature which shows a 3-D image as if your flying in a helicopter.
    It’s not in english, but press the plane icon and then the 3-D tag.

  34. They encompass a chauvinistic schedule.

  35. They encompass a chauvinistic schedule.

  36. We contributed Paris in 3D as Gray but will add textured buildings as we develop our commercial market. We also added Waikiki and a dozen other cities mainly in the US.

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