As a former social studies student who would stare at the maps on the wall rather than listen to the teacher I have always found historical maps to be extremely interesting – especially when they are compared to modern maps. On an antique map I would always try to find the location of something I knew like my school, house, or a city I’ve visited to see how it changed. For that reason, I have spent numerous hours in the past perusing David Rumsey’s collection of 17,400 historical maps.
Over the past few years you have been able to view 16 different Rumsey Historical Maps in Google Earth. Users access them by opening up the Gallery tab under Layers and clicking on one of the compass icons that show up on the screen. Today 104 more historical maps were added and you can also view all 120 in Google Maps. What makes these maps even more facinating than printed versions hanging on the wall in your classroom is that you can lay them over a modern map and adjust the transparency slider to show the maps have changed over time very clearly. The picture above shows all the locations of Rumsey’s maps in Google Maps (notice Yosemite and San Francisco).