Google Earth Historical Imagery Update – 16-March-2009

Google has released a big update to the historical imagery feature available only through Google Earth 5. The historical imagery contains a massive amount of imagery which surpasses the data you already see when viewing Google Earth satellite and aerial imagery by default. Google has basically been archiving the imagery they used in previous releases of imagery since 2005, plus historical imagery they’ve acquired from many sources for some places going back decades old. It’s hard to express just how big this data really is – we’re talking many, many terabytes (terrabytes?) of data! One terabyte is 1,000,000,000,000 bytes.
When GE 5 was first released, the bulk of the new historical imagery was concentrated on the US. There were places with new historical imagery all over the globe, but it wasn’t pervasive. Now there is even more historical imagery all over the globe. Google mentions a few locations in their LatLong post to check out: watch the construction of the Dubai man-made archipelago known as “The World“, witness the deforestation of the Amazon forests, see what happened to New Orleans when Katrina flooded the city. Unfortunately, they neglected to include a Google Earth file so you could find and see the imagery yourself. So, check out all three of these locations here in a quick tour (you must have GE 5 installed, and turn on “Historical Imagery“).

Amazon deforestation comparison in Google Earth
Deforestation of Amazon

I haven’t been able to determine the full scale of this new update. But, there seems to be many more historical instances between 2000 and the present for rural areas around the globe (mostly strips of satellite photography from DigitalGlobe). Perhaps Google wasn’t finished with processing all of this data before the GE 5 release. But, now its there. If anyone finds other interesting locations with historical imagery, please leave a comment here. Particularly interesting ones I’ll write about in future posts and make tours so others can check them out.

By the way, I also discovered Google added the historical image of the predator drones in Pakistan which Stefan was talking about last month. Visit this location and check out the oldest historical image.

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. And here is a tutorial for Google Maps made in paper 🙂 (just for fun)
    Pretty sure you’ll like it.

  2. Please update Albania…….

  3. James Bradley says:

    How do I reset the time line, I’m only able to see the ice-age imagery on the globe….I seem to have set my box to only present the imagery tied to certain dates and I’m not able to turn-off or reset the clock in Historical images

  4. can you please update the area around Lake Wongan,Victoria, Australia. i live near there and 4 years ago we built a big shed and it still dosnt show up on google earth but our house does. the house is smaller then the shed.

  5. I would love to get your Google Earth Historical Imagery but nowhere can I find a way to sign up… how silly is that?? Can you inform me about the way I can sign up and look at places that I choose to see and what they were like a few years ago? Is there someone who can explain how I get information from you? Or do I just try to find a geek friend?

  6. Well with the recent events in Japan I imagine the Google Earth will be getting a bit of a work out!

  7. Mohammad Moghadam says:

    hi, Please send me a better Image for this area: 36 25’24.92″N 54 58’10.13″E

  8. Mohammad Moghadam says:

    hi, Please Update and send me a better Image for this area: 36 25’24.92″N 54 58’10.13″E

  9. Just a simple question. When looking at an area…how far back in time can google images go. I was looking at my home town in NJ. There is a box that slides only back to 1995. It doesn’t seem to be resetable. I was hoping to go back before 1981. Is this even possible. Thanks

Leave a Reply