Historical Imagery

We have covered historical imagery a number of times since its introduction to Google Earth with version 5.0 in February 2009. However, it is such an important feature that it is worth revisiting.

There are several different ways to get to Historical Imagery:

  • On the toolbar, click the ‘Historical Imagery’ button. (A clock with an arrow pointing anticlockwise see 1. in the screenshot below).
  • From the menu select ‘View->Historical Imagery’. (2. in the screenshot below)
  • Click on the date in the lower left corner of the Google Earth window, which will take you immediately to the oldest historical imagery available. (3. in the screenshot below). Note that the date will only show when historical imagery is available for the area you are viewing.

Opening historical imagery

It is also important to know how to tell the date of the imagery being displayed in Google Earth. If you put the mouse over the location you are interested in, Google Earth will show “Imagery date” near the bottom center of the screen. This is shown as 4. in the screen shot above. Do not confuse this with 3. which is the date of the oldest available historical imagery.

Also keep in mind:

  • For aerial imagery, the date displayed may not be accurate. For an explanation as to why this is, see this post.
  • For cities with 3D imagery, the date of the 3D imagery is not shown. This is because the 3D imagery is treated as a model in Google Earth and not imagery.
  • You may encounter places between images where no date is shown.

When you open Historical Imagery, the toolbar shown below is displayed. The view in Google Earth will also tend to look patchy, because Google Earth is no longer blending various images together.

Historical Imagery toolbar
The Historical Imagery toolbar.

Use the time slider to display imagery from the date you desire. Note that:

  • Unless you are zoomed in quite close the ground, imagery matching the date you have selected will usually only be a portion of the imagery displayed on the screen.
  • Generally, the imagery displayed on screen is the same date or older than the date selected on the Historical Imagery slider – except for a global background image of poor resolution, for which a date is not shown.

Some of the imagery in Historical Imagery may actually be more recent than the default imagery displayed in Google Earth. This is because Google selects the best quality imagery available for a location in preference to the most recent.

Switching to the Historical Imagery view also turns off the new 3D buildings mesh and displays the 3D models that were there previously – if you have the 3D buildings layer turned on.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.






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.

Comments

  1. googl earth is not up to date it is 5 years behind



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.