Is historical imagery coming to Street View?

I really like the historical imagery feature in Google Earth. It’s a very useful feature that allows you to look at some neat things, and it’s a great way to visit the past in various areas around the world.
As reveled in a thread in the Google Earth Hacks message board by ‘Munden’, there are some signs that perhaps a “historical imagery” view is coming to Google Street View in the future.
He’s found a number of areas that have multiple Street View imagery versions available online, and he cites a handful of examples such as this building that looks like a giant sheep. Here is the old image, here is the new image, and here is what they look like side-by-side:


In his testing, Munden has discovered some interesting things:

In New Zealand, old imagery isn’t the default but isn’t removed anymore. My old links will call up the old low resolution images, even on browsers that have never seen that URL before. I’ve even cleared the caches. Google definitely has the old images in their Street View database. You can switch by dragging the Pegman by a pixel or two and suddenly you’ll be in the new imagery and stay there no matter how much moving around you do.

It’s important to note that once you are viewing an older image if you use the SV in-picture arrows to move through the pictures, you will stay in that older imagery. You have to drag the Pegman to switch to new imagery, as I mentioned previously. This could simply be an artifact of the old URL, and they have no plans to create a history of Street View of course. I find it most interesting that you STAY in the old imagery once you’re viewing it though.

Other examples include a futuro home (old image, new image), or the “Christmas decorations” location that ‘sladys’ found — the new imagery is embedded on the site, but the old imagery can still be found via this URL.
Ultimately, all of this might not mean anything. Google hasn’t made any announcements about anything related to historical Street View imagery and they may have other reasons for keeping the old imagery accessible. In any case, it’s a neat little feature that Munden has uncovered and may be a sign of things to come. Good find, Munden!

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.

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. Hi,
    Thanks for your post. Some websites are already giving historical images that can be superimposed with the ones taken by Street View (which is a bit different compared to having several Street View images from different dates). I think about Historypin in particular, which proudly claims to be in partnership with Google. If Historypin was eaten by Google, it could be very nice to have it in Street View, although maybe a bit useless for most users…

  2. A while back Google added the date to Street Views showing when the Street View image was taken – although that may not have anything to do with any plans to show historical imagery on Google Maps.
    Recently Google released Memories for the Future
    This allows you to view Street Views of Japan before and after last year’s earthquake.

  3. Very good detective work by Munden – but, given that SV has only been available for a few years, the vast majority of ‘historic’ images would only show things like seasonal change in vegetation – could be picturesque – but you would expect any historic SV imagery to be used/issued selectively for major ‘before and after’ events, big developments like the Olympics, and so on.

  4. hello;
    using google earth
    there is a night simulation
    but at night there is light for cities
    can u but this idea on the next version of google earth.
    send me a replay message!!!

  5. Historical Street View would be fantastic!
    Beside the obvious advantage of letting us see how places change over time, it would allow viewing a place during different seasons: for example, in Japan it would be interesting to see both the cherry blossoms in spring as well as the autumn foliage.
    Not only that, but it could be adapted for night images of major cities around the world.

  6. It would be great if one could see historical images of streets and buildings in Google Street View the way like you can see them on my blog: 🙂

  7. It would be great if this allowed user submitted historic images of places that would assist historians, witha reference to timeline (dates.) Anyone know other than posting specific photos to specific co-ordinates (lat,long) etc whether there has been any work done on this front?
    I means more than a few years, for instance earliest photos of given places so the longer time lapse can be viewed? Thanks for the Blog, it is always useful and thought proviking.

  8. Here in New Orleans, it would be extremely helpful to have “historical imagery” under Google Street View, for documenting ground movement (e.g. subsidence) and stages of decay in blighted property. These are phenomena that progress quickly, so a year-to-year comparison view would be useful to researchers involved with government/recovery projects.

  9. NATEBURNS976 says

    When is there going to be a street view historical imagery for Google earth on the computer? I set my date to 2003, put the yellow stick figure street view man on the street and it was 2011. I wish they had one…….

  10. When is there really going to be a street view historical imagery on Google earth on the computer? I set it to 2003, put it on street view and it is 2011. I wish they had it!

  11. there’s also old city tax photos, from the 80s and the 40s for major urban areas:

  12. Is there any chance to load earlier version of Google street view London, I have the link with me, but it’s loading newly updated picture, I really want to get the previous picture of the street view, the link as follows

  13. As a person who is interested in local buildings and the development of my neighbourhood I must say that having older Streetview photographs available would be a fantastic way to see how neighbourhoods change and evolve.

  14. if you want google to make old street view an option sign this petition on it is easy and fast to sign it just go to and if we get enough people to sign it, then it will go to google and they might make old street view an option.

  15. Hello there,
    here in the Netherlands, I turned my Google Maps Street View into an older photo, (photo date 2010) but I want to change it back to the modern photo of today! How can I get the photo of today back?

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.