There’s a minor kind of magic that happens every once in a while when you’re using Google Street View. You’re stepping along when all of a sudden the landscape drastically changes — buildings change hands, gentrification marches on, natural disasters happen. Because of the patchwork way in which Google sends cameras out to update its photos, you’ve moved from one era to another.
Now, the company is turning that quirk from a bug into a feature. If there are past views available for a particular area, you’ll be able to toggle back and forth from the most current photo to previous iterations, virtually traveling through time.
From Google’s blog:
Now with Street View, you can see a landmark’s growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter.