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Google Street View Adds Time Machine: Japan’s Visual Tsunami Timeline

Google’s mobile vehicles drove 44,000 km to make panoramic 360 degrees images of areas in Northeastern Japan that were affected by the March 11, 2011 Tsunami.

The tragic imagery is now available through Street View mode in Google Maps. Moreover, the same imagery is also available at a special website called “Memories for the Future” (“Build the Memory” mentioned in Google blog was obviously a working title).  All the views include date stamps now, so in the bottom left corner of each image you’ll also see a month and year that tells you when a particular photograph was taken. When looking at images of the magnificent cities side-by-side with images of the ruins left in their place, this additional context demonstrates how truly life-changing this tragedy has been for those who live there and witnessed the destruction of their homes, neighborhoods and even entire districts. This time stamp feature has been the most requested Street View feature for the last few years, and it is now available on Street View imagery worldwide. Professionals such as historians, architects, city planners and tourism boards—as well as regular users including travelers and home-buyers—can now get a sense of how fresh the online photos are for a locations that interests them.
Together with the “time machine” imagery, virtual travelling via Street View from deep inland to the Northeastern shores of Japan can show you how the idyllic countryside changes dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean. In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces. They are facts of life and history everyone should be aware of.

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