Google continues to expand 3D imagery, but starting to phase out 3D Warehouse

Google is continuing to push out very rapid updates to their 3D imagery, now releasing it in a variety of new cities:

United States: Jackson, MS, Sumter, SC, Sioux City, IA, Newark, NJ, Brunswick, GA, RockyMount, NC, Mankato, MN.

Europe: Beziers, France, Blanes/Lloret De Mar, Spain, Nancy, France, Modena, Italy, Reading, UK.


As they continue this push, they older 3D models are beginning to be phased out.  While you can still submit models to the 3D Warehouse, starting on October 1 new models won’t be added to Google Earth.

The amazing models housed by the 3D Warehouse have been an integral part of Google Earth for years now. While it’s sad to see that beginning to come to an end, it’s not surprising given the big push into 3D Imagery.  Here is the full release from the 3D modeling team:

“Hi folks,

With the goal to have every building in the world accurately displayed in 3D, we’ve explored different methods for modeling large areas of our planet in 3D, including technologies like SketchUp, Building Maker and lately 3D Imagery. We’ve decided that in order to pursue the most consistent user experience, we’ll be focusing our resources on the technology that will scale to the entire world and will be discontinuing support of the user generated 3D program.

We’d like to thank all of you who helped form the landscape of Google Earth and helped cities around the globe grow out of the 2D realm, and into the imaginations of virtual 3D explorers everywhere.

Models can still be uploaded to the Trimble 3D Warehouse, where they can continue to be shared with the modeling community, but they will no longer be published to Google Earth starting October 1st, 2013. Existing models will remain visible in Google Earth, until a time when they’re replaced by new models generated for that region. Google Takeout lets you download an archive containing all of your models.

On a personal note: I’ve had the good fortune of being involved in the 3D modeling effort for Google Earth from the beginning, and I’ve watched many of you create collections of amazingly detailed architectural wonders from every corner of the Earth. I’m very thankful to have been along for that ride and to have gotten to know many of you over the years.

With respect and appreciation,

– CraigD and the 3D Modeling Team”

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. 3D imagery in Beziers and Nancy, France is good, but Reading UK is very gloomy with poor detail compared with the default ‘vertical’ 2006 GE imagery, so best stick to that.

  2. Graziano Di Crescenzo says

    new 3D buildings also in Naples (Italy)

  3. Vladislav says

    Stunning views from the bird’s flight, in the UK the weather is not possible, a little gloomy, I wanted more light.
    I hope that in the near future to see such beautiful pictures in the cities of Ukraine and Russia.

  4. Żagań already have new, high-quality satellite images. But Zary, Lubsko Novgorod Bobrzański already no have: (

  5. Google should grab all the Aerial Photo Single Frames from the USGS, and release a massive historical imagery update across the U.S. Not only it will look cool, but it would cover more than 70% of the U.S When the user wants to flt by their town seen 50 years ago, the image would be a lovely black and white image, not the Blue Marble base layer. This will also eliminate the 50-year gap in between time frames in cities that already have such imagery. I’m not saying you have to do it, i’m just suggesting a neat idea.

  6. It would also be very cool if the Historical Imagery have the same “Pretty Earth” effect.

  7. In other words: first Google relies on people to populate their product with 3D models for free, then Google decides to pull the giant middle finger and tells its users to shove it. Seeing their recent history of acting against their user base and their track record of similar decisions in “phasing out” and “shutting down”, I’m not surprised.

    • I agree, really disappointing.

      GE was becoming a great visualisation tool for construction planning. By hiding an individual building and importing a proposed replacement, the visual impact and contextual interaction of the design could be easily explored by anyone. Although the 3D imagery does look nice (from a distance), it does not support this function.

      Also, the 3D Building layer model information has been a great benefit for research and desktop sightseeing, perhaps GE’s primary educational feature. Now when exploring the new mesh, how will users find out what they are actually looking at. No more web links for businesses, institutions and places of interest?!

      It is tragic that Google has decided to basically merge Earth with Maps and abolish all its interactivity, as tools evolve they are supposed to get better. Hopefully something else will come along to fill the resulting void. Trimble World? Bing Planet? maybe not, but we’ll be waiting…

      • This is sad news. GE was enriched by users’ details and expertise. I agree with the disappointing alienation this causes for existing 3D creators

      • I agree. This seems madness. Google’s incentives was to create a virtual 3d world and in doing so invented an accessible first class 3D visualization tool for design and planning. Building design has entered a new era with interactive 3d collaboration at the heart. Killing off this 3d visualization tool is a backward step.

    • The sentiments expressed by Andrew and Tomdubbs in the previous comments are the exact same disappointing feelings I share with them. It is extraordinarily disconcerting that Google continues to perpetuate the same apathy.and lack of consideration it has demonstrated towards its customers, users recently regarding many very popular services,such as Google Reader among others that Google has abandoned to the chagrin, bitterness of its once adoring public.

  8. LATIN AMERICA???????

  9. jakubfafilek says

    Is there any schedule, where I can found, when models in my region will be replaced? Thanks a lot, if anyone knows the answer.

  10. Chris De Geus says

    This is disappointing. We as designers enjoy the challenge of developing and sharing our models and now you take that enjoyment and freedom to do so? I have to say that what I have seen with the new 3D imagery, It doesn’t compare to the (good) designed models we’ve created. You can’t click on a model and find out any info on it. The satellite imagery isn’t as good when it’s turned off. My computer doesn’t even run well when I have “Buildings” turned on. I’m hoping that you would have a version for us modelers to continue to design and share our creations. Please reconsider.

  11. Jose Antonio de Miguel says

    Perhaps in GE you can enable a layer with old, handcrafted 3D models. In most cases they were better models than those of new automatic3D imaginery.

    • Yes I concur with the above statements. I like the increased 3D imagery and understand the large amount of work that went into reviewing users’ submissions but I truly miss the user-submitted detailed pieces. I would think there would be a way to bring those back in some capacity. It is so sad to see them being wiped out.

  12. Andres Hitta says

    I feel dissapointed, similar than people that wrote above. It took me several hours to draw the building where I live in Buenos Aires. There’s no reason to continue collaborating with Google projects if they are terminated/cancelled in this way.

  13. First they drop sketchup, now they remove the buildings we created, this is BS Google!

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.