20 million downloads on Google Earth Hacks

Back in 2005 when Google Earth first came out, I started Google Earth Hacks to share some of the cool stuff I had found in Google Earth. It quickly grew into a rather popular site, lead me to meet Frank and eventually to help him on this site as he continues his incredible adventure.
Last week, the site hit a major milestone with its 20 millionth file download. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at some of the most popular files the site has posted (you can see the full list here).
Smiling Guy [KML] (140,029 downloads)
A patch of super high-res imagery in central Chad.


Embarrassing Moment [KML] (59,066 downloads)
This imagery has been replaced, so you need to fly to the location then choose March, 2006 using the historical imagery tool

Palm Island – Dubai – overlay [KML] (31,705 downloads)
This file comes with an image overlay, which was the primary cause of its popularity; you could view the island using the overlay before it appeared in Google Earth. Now the island is clearly displayed for all to see, as shown here:

The next group of files are all related to the terrorist attacks in New York City on 9/11/01. The ability to show the old towers in Google Earth, along with the ability to show what the new “Freedom Tower” would look like have been popular files for many years now.
Former World Trade Center [KML] (32,785 downloads)

World Trade Center under attack [KML] (69,814 downloads)
For some reason, this model is now appearing in the middle of the river, but the clarity of it is still there

New Freedom Tower [KML] (18,354 downloads)

It’s also worth taking a look at the list of top submitters; in particular, McMaster_de, sladys and SpiderX22, each of whom have submitted over 1,000 files to the site.
Of all of the Google Earth files, add-ons, overlays and models that you have seen on this site or any other, which is your favorite and why?

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Someone help me out. I do not understand the “Embarrassing Moment” picture. Is being in a pool in Las Vegas embarrassing, or god forbid, two people in a pool. What am I missing?

  2. Embarrassment is in the prurient eyes of the voyeurs who pick this stuff out and those who download it, rather than felt by the lucky people in the pool.

  3. or…. it’s just another day in Vegas, and NOT A HUGE social statement.

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