Whether you want to view early iterations of your childhood home or experience New York City's Times Square as it was when you visited in the 2010s, the function can be used to see street-level views from over a decade ago.
nyc before and after google maps
Credit: Courtesy of Google Maps

Google Street View is a valuable tool that allows you to see panoramic views of streets around the world. The interactive feature, which is available on Google Maps and Google Earth, can be used to virtually travel to scenic destinations or simply to scope out an area you're interested in moving to. As if the technology wasn't already advanced, Google is now providing Street View users with a unique opportunity—the chance to go back in time.

If you've ever used the tool to view your own home, you know that Google updates these photos regularly. Now, the technology company is using its database of street level photography to allow users to see what a particular area looked like years ago, according to a report by Wired.

trevi fountain google street view
Credit: Courtesy of Google Maps

How to Use Google Maps' Time Travel Feature

To access the feature, use the following steps.

  1. Open Google Maps and type in the address you're interested in viewing—it can be as simple as the location of your childhood home or something as exciting as the Trevi Fountain in Italy.
  2. Once you've entered the address of your chosen destination, Google will populate a road map of the area.
  3. In the lower right hand corner, click on the person icon and move it onto the map to access the latest street-level photo of the area.
  4. Now, you're ready to time travel. Once you've accessed the interactive street view of your location, look in the upper left hand corner of the screen and you'll see a small clock symbol next to a date.
  5. Click on the clock and a slide-bar will appear with available years listed. Move the bar forward and backward to see photos of that specific destination throughout the years.

If you've chosen a location that doesn't have the time function, it's possible Google doesn't have older images available in its archive. For this reason, the tool works best for viewing areas that receive high foot traffic—such as Times Square in New York City—as they are more regularly photographed by Google.


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