New Google Maps feature lets you travel back in time

A building goes up in Singapore - Google Street View - A building goes up in Singapore, as viewed...

A building goes up in Singapore - Google Street View - A building goes up in Singapore, as viewed through Google Street View's new time-travelling feature. (Supplied)

Sheena Goodyear, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

A new Google Maps feature will let you watch condos rise over Toronto's Lakeshore or witness the transformation of Vancouver's skyline in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Games.

Rolling out worldwide Wednesday, the new Street View will let users see how a particular location has changed over the years and between the seasons.

Google's fleet of cars have trekked the country -- and the world -- many times over since they started snapping pictures in 2007. Each image is "a snapshot in time," said Street View product manager Vinay Shet

"We thought we could explore that snapshot in time and go back and see how the world has changed," he said.

Condo construction on Lakeshore Blvd. in Toronto as seen through Google Street View's new time-travelling feature. (Supplied)

You can see billboards for flip phones in Times Square, watch One World Trade Center rise from the ashes of Ground Zero, or look at before and after shots of Japan's deadly 2011 tsunami.

"You can actually see the devastating effects in the communities," Shet said.

The more times Google's Street View Cars have surveyed an area, the more pictures you'll see. Shet estimates the massive project will double the number of images currently available.

In Canada, the effects of construction on the urban landscape is particularly fascinating, said Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle.

You can see the Vancouver skyline before and after the 2010 Winter Olympics, or the witness the dramatic effect of condo development in Toronto.

"Some of the most interesting places profiled are definitely where you're seeing a lot of development in Canada," he said.

To use the feature, click on the little clock icon on Google Maps. The iconic yellow man you drop onto the map to enter Street View will also be decked out as Doc Brown from Back To the Future.

He'll help you travel back in time "without having to use a flux capacitor," said Brindle.


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