One of my favorite features of Google Earth is the Historical Imagery view. It lets you turn back the clock to see what the same area on the map looked like from the air years ago. While Google Earth offers historical views of anywhere in the country, many are relatively recent, while others go back only as far as the 1980s and 1990s.
Google Earth is still a fun destination with many great features, but I’ve found another website that I prefer to use while building house histories on wikiHomePages.com. HistoricAerials.com offers a bird’s eye view of streets and homes from as far back as the 1920s in some areas. A killer feature lets you slide or dissolve to compare aerials from different time periods. That is really cool.
The color photo on the left of the split screen is a 2005 aerial view of my first apartment in Los Angeles. On the right is the 300 block of S. St. Andrews Place and Manhattan Place as they appeared in 1948. What today is apartment building after apartment building was once a row of tidy single-family homes with lawns, trees and driveways. Switching to other years and moving the map around, I can also see how the surrounding neighborhood has changed from when I lived there in 1972.
The only thing I don’t like about these old aerial photos is that I can’t get enough of them, they don’t cover the entire country. But HistoricAerials.com is adding new, or should I say older, aerials every day. You can view them for free online, but with watermarks. If you see a family home or other must-have photo, you can purchase a clean copy from their website.