David Rumsey Map Collection — Historical Maps Overlaid on Google Earth

24 Dec

David Rumsey Map Collection on Google Earth

Before the Space Race, and more recently the popularity of GPS technology and satellite imagery, maps were all meticulously hand drawn – but how accurate were they?  The David Rumsey Map Collection’s set on Google Earth is a great tool to try to answer this question.

Over 120 of the over 150,000 maps held in the collection have been integrated with Google Earth in a way that allows you to overlay the historical map on top of the most recent Google Earth images to compare.  Choose a map from the list on the Collection’s Google Earth page or click on a compass rose in the map view to overlay the historical map.  You can adjust the transparency of the historical maps by using the slider in the lower right hand corner of the page check the accuracy of the map or to see how the landscape has changed over time.  Some of these maps are also available in a larger overlay on his Google Maps page.

What is very nice about using the Google Earth feature on this page is that the view will adjust to the orientation of the map, so students will not have to worry about rotation and lining everything up themselves.  Also, the zoom feature for both the historical map and the Google Earth map allows you to get to street level in many cases, while still retaining a crisp image on both.

Please note, you will want to test this feature on all machines that you would like to use, as it uses the Google Earth plug-in for web browsers to work and you’ll need to make sure that is installed first!

Also of interest: 

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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Websites


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