Old Maps in Google Earth
I was happy to read Google’s recent announcement that they were including a collection of antique maps as part of the standard Google Earth package. My only disappointment was that the city of Boston was not included in this first set of maps. It would have made a good candidate for inclusion since the city has gone through such a dramatic transformation during the past 350 years, with large sections of it having been built on filled-in land.
What I didn’t realize until I started playing with Google Earth a bit more is that any image at all can be included as a layer. I tried this out with a map of Boston from 1839 that I had scanned in from a period almanac. With a little bit of work I was able to line up the old street layout fairly well with the current pattern.
1839 Map of Boston rendered in Google Earth
A larger version of this image is available here.
By turning on the “3D Building” mode, the sense of change over time is really striking. I’ll have to try this with the famous Bonner map of 1722 which will make the land additions stand out even more.
Google Earth’s Version 4 (beta) is an incredible piece of software. If you would like to explore this map, the layer can be downloaded using this KML file: boston1839.kml. Assuming you have Google Earth installed, opening this file should launch the program and zoom in on Boston with the map layered over the city.
Update: I created a layer for the aforementioned Bonner Map.