You can now see New York City street views from the late 1800s and early 1900s as Google Earth street views. Take a virtual visit to the Big Apple as it was 100 years ago! Or travel back even further in time to an 1836 map of NYC conveniently overlaid on a modern Google Earth view. These are just two of the many ways to use Google Earth for genealogy—and for fun.
Vintage New York City Street Views on Google Earth
Over 80,000 original photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s have been mapped into Google Earth to provide what’s essentially a Google Street View map of old New York City!
The site is called OldNYC, and it’s free.
As you can see from this overview map (below), the old photos are concentrated in the areas of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Lower and Upper Manhattan. Dots represents historic photos that have been overlaid on Google Earth’s modern map (satellite view is also available).
You can zoom in to click on individual dots, which will bring up one or more individual photos of certain neighborhoods or street fronts:
Select the photos that match up best with your family history interests, such as a shot of your family’s old store front or apartment building. Or choose images that represent the time period in which your relatives lived in the area, so you can get a flavor of what their neighborhood would have looked like. (Click here for some ideas about where to look for your family’s exact address during the late 1800s or early 1900s.)
These photos all come from the New York Public Library’s Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection, which is also free to view online.
According to this article at BusinessInsider.com, a developer Dan Vanderkam worked with the New York Public Library to plot all the photos onto Google Earth. (A hat-tip to Genealogy Gems listener and reader Jennifer, who sent me this article because she knows how much I love old maps and data visualization!)
Another Old NYC Street View: 1836 Map
While we’re on the subject, I also want to mention another cool tool for visualizing old NYC street views. At the Smithsonian.com, there’s a cool historic map overlay of an 1836 New York City map in Google Earth. Use the scrolling and zooming tools to explore the parts of NYC that were already settled–and to compare them to what’s there today. You can also swap views to see the 1836 map with just a little round window of the modern streets.
The accompanying article quotes famous map collector David Rumsey about the 1836 map, which is his. He describes how you can see that much of the topography of Manhattan has changed over the years—did you know Manhattan used to be hilly? And I love how he calls out artistic features on the old map, too.
Smithsonian NYC street view 1836
Unfortunately, the old map doesn’t show much in the way of residents’ property lines or buildings. But you can clearly see the street layouts and where the parks and hills were. Comparing these areas with Google Earth’s street view today can help you better understand what things looked like in a much older version of one of the world’s great cities.
Use Google Earth for Your Genealogy
There are so many ways to use Google Earth for genealogy! My free video class will get you started. After a quick tutorial on downloading and navigating Google Earth, see how to utilize its powerful tools to identify an old family photo, map out addresses that may have changed and even plot an old ancestral homestead.
Click here to enjoy this free video!
The Genealogy Gems Podcast
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Canadian expert Dave Obee shares the story of the Canadian home children tips on newspaper research. Also in this episode:
New site features at MyHeritage, including improved DNA ethnicity analysis (it’s free?upload your DNA!);
An excerpt from the Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with Fannie Flagg about The Whole Town’s Talking?and a great summer reading idea;
A detailed get-started guide to British Isles research: Terminology and census/civil BMD record tips from Kate Eakman at Legacy Tree Genealogists
Why so many weddings are traditionally held in June.
Download the show notes
NEWS: DNA AND CATALOG UPDATES AT MYHERITAGE
MyHeritage.com: DNA ethnicity estimate updates and new collection Catalog
View an example of the new ethnicity analysis presentation here: https://vimeo.com/218348730/51174e0b49
3 top uses for the new MyHeritage catalog (with additional details and commentary)
MyHeritage Quick Reference Guide (Newly-updated in 2017)
Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites. This brand new, comprehensive guide helps you answer the question, “Which genealogy websites should I use?”
MAILBOX: BOOK CLUB COMMENTS
Visit the book club here.
Companion video recommendations:
Genealogy Journey: Running Away to Home video (click here to see the book)
“You Came and Saved Us” video with author Chris Cleave, Everyone Brave is Forgiven
Alan Cumming on Who Do You Think You Are? Episode summary
Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
For more information: www.nwgc.org
Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. In the works: soon RootsMagic will be fully integrated with Ancestry.com, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your Ancestry.com trees and search records on the site.
Learn more or sign up for Backblaze here.
Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at http://www.backblaze.com/.
INTERVIEW: DAVE OBEE
Continuing our celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday!
Dave Obee is an internationally-renowned Canadian journalist, historian and genealogist. Dave is a columnist for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today (formerly Family Chronicle). Dave has also written about family history for Canada’s History and Your Family Tree in the United Kingdom.
Put Dave’s books on your shelf – you can get them here.
Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide
Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census
Destination Canada: A Genealogical Guide to Immigration Records
Making the News: A Times Columnist Look at 150 Years of History
Canada research tips:
Look in newspapers for ship crossings, notable people sailing, approximate numbers of passengers etc.
Don’t just rely on search engines for digitized newspapers. Browse the papers where you find some hits.
Canada Home Children: Watch and Learn
Forgotten, an award-winning documentary (watch the trailer here)
Childhood Lost: The Story of Canada’s Home Children documentary (watch it on YouTube)
LEGACY TREE GEM: ENGLISH PARISH RECORDS
Visit Legacy Tree Genealogists: http://www.legacytree.com/genealogygems
Read a companion blog post on English parish records, with several image examples and links to the resources Kate Eakman recommends.
Legacy Tree Genealogists provides expert genealogy research service that works with your research goals, budget and schedule. The Legacy Tree Discovery package offers 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations: a great choice if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance.
GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: FANNIE FLAGG INTERVIEW
The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg
Genealogy Gems Premium website members may hear this entire conversation in the upcoming Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #148.
BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users
LINK IMAGE TO: http://lisalouisecooke.com/get-app/
If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus audio content for this episode comes from Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady, in honor of International Archives Day on June 9. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users
Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with Animoto.com. You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at Animoto.com.
MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.
PROFILE AMERICA: June Weddings
Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor
Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor
Lacey Cooke, Service Manager
Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
Check out this new episode!