Google Street View is a great way to see a map from a first-person perspective. You can use this to help find an address, do a bit of virtual sightseeing, or use historic Street View data to travel back in time. Google will refresh its Street View data every few years in many areas, and you can see older Street View imagery using the desktop version of Google Maps.
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To do this, head to maps.google.com in a web browser on a computer. Now, bring up Street View by clicking and dragging the Street View icon (pictured below) and then releasing it while hovering over a street or road. You can also click on a location and then click again on the Street View thumbnail that appears at the bottom of the screen.
To view historic Street View imagery, look at the top-right corner of Google Maps. If older Street View imagery is available, you’ll see a clock icon with a downward arrow in this box.
Click on the arrow to see images taken by Street View teams in the past. You can click and drag the slider to move backward and forward through time. You can move around and change perspective and the view will update in real-time. Click on a captured image to see it in full-screen.
To get back to present-day Street View, drag the slider all the way to the right and click on the image again.
Google Maps as a service has some of the best (if not the best) coverage in the world, with an ever-expanding cache of Street View data. Where you live ultimately decides how much historical Street View data you’ll have available to you. The streets around Mountain View in California, where Google is based, have Street View data dating back to 2007 when the service first launched. Many cities and routes were added in the following years, although much of the imagery from the late 2000s is low resolution compared to modern Street View data.
If you don’t see the clock icon with a drop-down arrow while in Street View, it means that you’re looking at the only pass that the Street View team has made.