The latest update to Google Earth – Version 5.0 – includes the ability to view historical data according to location. In short it allows you to zoom into and area and view aerial imagery from the past. The short clip below details growth in a suburb of Las Vegas:
Google Earth ‘Historical Imagery’ Timeline from digitalurban on Vimeo.
While the majority of the imagery is currently US based, with some areas back as far as 1950, London can be viewed from 1999 onwards and other parts of the UK from 2001. It does make some interesting comparisons and could prove invaluable for the teaching of urban growth and urban sprawl.
The two images below are a quick example we found of new road and housing construction:
This is an extremely valuable update to Google Earth and one that will have notable impact in the communication and teaching of both physical and human geography.