Google Streetview Steps Into the Fourth Dimension

Writing about Philadelphia real estate is like cooking soup. Unless you add in a couple of crucial ingredients, it doesn't taste like much. Bad analogies aside, we rely on public record, the L&I Map, and tips from readers to discover and research stories. Probably our most important resource though, is Google Street View, which typically allows us to look back in time and see a site before a particular project got underway.

You've probably seen the Google car driving through your neighborhood. And perhaps you've wondered what happens when the car snaps new photos on a street it's already photographed. Until now, it was our impression that those photos dropped off into the Internet ether. But now, a new tool has brought those old photos back online, allowing you to go back to 2007 to see what's changed in the years since. Here are just a couple of cool examples:

Residences at the Ritz Carlton, under construction in 2007

Before 777 South Broad was built

North Broad Street, before the Convention Center expansion

To access the Time Machine, simply click on the little clock icon in the upper left corner of Google Street View. Some locations have half a dozen photos, others only have two or three. Many stop in 2011 or 2012. But as time goes by, this library will only grow, and eventually we'll have what Google refers to as a "digital time capsule of the world."

Isn't technology cool?