Viewing Major Events with Google Street View

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Google Street View is an amazing tool that allows you to explore vast swathes of the world from the comfort of your own home.

There is a feature of Street View that I don’t believe a lot of people are aware of – the ability to view past street view images. This is a really neat feature that allows you to see just how much things can change over time.

If a place has had a major event happen, or even something smaller like a large tower being constructed, there may be Google Street View images of the area showing what the place looked like before.

On a computer, you can access past street view images if there is a clock icon with a drop down arrow in the top right. Clicking on that will bring up dates and a preview of the view for the location you are in.

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In Australia the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 swept through many country towns. The entire feel of these places changed dramatically – and you can see just how much some of them have changed using Google Street view.

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Marysville, Victoria in 2008
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Marysville, Victoria in 2010

You can click around either of these street views using the above links.

A much more dramatic example is the town of Joplin, Missouri in the United States. An EF5 tornado ripped through this town in 2011, completely destroying the town.

This is the town in 2007, and this is the exact same view in 2012.

In 2011 a major earthquake hit the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. The impact of this disaster is fully captured within Google Street View images.

This is Christchurch in 2007, and the exact same view in 2015.

On a lighter note, it is not just disasters than can create dramatic differences between two separate dates. The view from the base of the newly-constructed One World Trade centre in New York City, now the tallest building in New York, is fully documented.

Here is the view from the base of the tower in 2007, and here is the same view in 2016.

You can spend hours and hours exploring the world and the recent past with Google Street View. It really is incredible what we have access to – imagine being told fifteen years ago that you would be able to explore major landmarks, cities, virtually any street in the world, right from the comfort of your home!

Historical Map Videos

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I really like maps and I find history very interesting, so a particular genre of YouTube video which I especially enjoy is historical map videos.

These videos show historical events such as wars, expansions of empires, or the spreading of culture and religion on a map over a certain time period.

These videos are very helpful in illustrating historical events in a way that is accessible and easy to understand.

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The Loneliest Man in the Universe

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When you think of Apollo 11, the first moon landing, for many two people come to mind: Neil Armstrong, the first man to land on the moon, and Buzz Aldrin, the second man to land on the moon.

There were actually three crewmembers aboard Apollo 11. Michael Collins also went to the moon; however he did not have the opportunity to walk on the surface like Armstrong and Aldrin.

As such, he is not as well-known as the other two.

He also holds the distinction for, at one point, being the loneliest man in the universe.

So why is this?

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How did historical cultures view celestial events?

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I wrote last week on what it would be like to view a supernova, as well as describing accounts of supernovae that have occurred through history.

What must historical cultures have thought of events like supernovae, comets, or eclipses, before the scientific understanding of what these things actually were came to light?

I believe a lot of religious and mythological stories had their origins with these types of events.

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Living through Historical Turning Points

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Last week I wrote about how the future will see the era we live in today, and I explained how I believe the future will see our time as a big turning point.

I wanted to expand a little bit on the idea of a “turning point”. Turning points are terms used after the event in question has occurred – a term used to create an easy dividing point between one era and another.

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How will the future see events happening today?

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Sometimes I like to think of how history books in the future will look back on the era we live in today.

Looking back through history it is clear the era we live in now is a period of intense change.

Historical societies can remain relatively unchanged over certain periods for centuries. Romans in the 1st century would recognise and feel comfortable with Romans in the 5th century.

Yet how comfortable would we be if we were transported back to the 1600s?

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