Now this is fascinating:

This is the Las Vegas Strip seen from ab0ve – the same view a half century apart – 1950 on the left, 2006 on the right.   The yellow line is the 1-15 Interstate in the location where  it would eventually be built.  The Bellagio fountain is the big green blob just right of centre.

You can watch the progress of development, if that’s what you care to call it, over ten different years by clicking on a year in the  respective date boxes (after choosing “Slide” in the “Compare” drop-down box).

All these wonderful geo-referenced air photos have been compiled on Historic Aerials, with an interface map that is almost as convenient to use as Google Maps.  (Amazing not only what’s available to us with a few clicks but how demanding our expectations are for convenience of use.)  The dark green indicates where data are available (U.S. only, regrettably).  But you can also search by address.

Best of all, you can compare the different stages and ages with a divided screen that allows you to move the map back and forth to compare in detail exactly the same aerial view over time.   Endless amusement!

And some serious lessons in urban geography too.  Here’s a comparison of Southwest Washington (that’s the Capitol in the upper right.):

This quadrant of DC went through massive urban renewal, along with the construction a freeway that crosses at an angle mid-way through the right-hand aerial.  The intimate block pattern on the left was destroyed, of course, to create the superblocks that were all the fashion.  Access to the Potomac waterfront was drastically reduced by high-speed arterials.  While never completely declining (it continued to offer affordable middle-income housing), Southwest is just now recovering from these unhappy interventions (Bing Thom’s Arena Stage is just one of the more recent successes). 

So go and discover.  And if you find some interesting images and comparison, pass them along in the Comments.

Thanks to Gladys We.

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