Remembering 9/11 with Google Earth

With today marking the 12th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, we thought we’d again take a look at the ever-changing skyline of the city.  New York City has changed quite a bit in Google Earth in the past year, thanks largely to the introduction of 3D Imagery to the city.

The best look at the old towers comes from this KMZ file from Patrick Griffin. In order to see the towers clearly, you can switch back to the legacy 3D buildings (tools –> options –> uncheck “use 3d imagery”) and then right-click on the new buildings and choose to “hide” them. They’ll come back the next time you start Google Earth.


By simply flying to New York City in Google Earth you can see a few of new buildings well underway. In the screenshot below you’ll see One World Trade Center on the left, and Four World Trade Center on the right.


To get a glimpse of how the completed buildings will look in a few years, you can grab this KMZ file. It will be a number of years until they’re all complete, but Google Earth can help give you a great feel for what things will be like when they’re done.


3D Imagery
Since last year, Google has finally updated New York to their new 3D imagery.  As we’ve seen in other cities, it makes New York look amazing from the air but a bit blocky when you zoomdown to street level (especially when compared to the Street View-generated building facades that were added a few years ago).

It’ll be interesting to see how quickly Google updates their 3D imagery to show progress on buildings like these.  It’s already behind a good bit, as the glass on One WTC is already completed.  Our hope is that Google is able to frequently update 3D imagery, ideally making it a bit sharper and more useful on each update.

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. For me, the best WTC 3D building is from WTCman:
    9/11 researcher? Please visit 9/11maps here:

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