Introducing Google Street View on PhillyHistory.org!

Visitors to PhillyHistory.org may have noticed some interesting new features in the last couple weeks. We recently released the latest version of PhillyHistory.org which includes a few additions to the website. One of those additions is the inclusion of Google Street View. You may be familiar with Google Street View if you have experience using Google Maps. Google Street View provides street level photographs of cities and neighborhoods around the world. Using Street View on Google Maps, you can take virtual tours of various cities, including large portions of Philadelphia.

Street View provides a way to see the notable landmarks and general streets of a city without having to physically travel to that city. On PhillyHistory.org we thought that using Street View might be a great way to offer the ability to compare the historic photographs with a present day view of the same location. The historic photographs on PhillyHistory are beautiful, but after looking at them, it’s easy to start wondering if a certain building still exists or how the neighborhood has changed over 50 years. Short of actually going to the physical location where the photo was taken, however, it was difficult to view the modern location and contrast it to the historic photo.

Google Street View gives us a way to solve that problem. Thanks to the work of our software developers, we were able to add a link to Street View to many of the photographs in PhillyHistory.org. To see the Street View for a photograph, click on the small thumbnail of the photograph to load a larger detail view of the image. Below the historic photograph will be two small thumbnails – one of the historic image and one of a white box labeled “Google Street View.” Click on the Google Street View box to load a current view of the same location where the historic photo was taken. You may need to navigate up and down the road or pan the view in order to see the exact location that matches the historic photograph.

The results provide an exciting visual demonstration of how the city has changed and developed over the course of its history. A 1914 photo shows a few people standing outside the Head House Market near 2nd and Pine Streets. The present-day Street View for that location shows the same market house with a few changes. A photo from 1918 of the intersection of Arch Street and 10th Street includes several businesses and a sign stretched across the street proclaiming that “Food Will Win the War.” The same intersection in 2009 is still home to many businesses and restaurants. Instead of a war-time sign, an ornate Chinese gate extends across the street, reflecting the ancestry of many residents of an area which now makes up part of the Chinatown neighborhood.

While not every Philadelphia street is included in Google Street View, many streets are available. We hope you enjoy the opportunity to compare past architecture to the present landscape and learn more of the story of the city’s past. Check out the Street View on PhillyHistory.org, and let us know what you think at info@phillyhistory.org!

This entry was posted in New Features. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.