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Surprising Science

Old London Meets Google’s Street View

Walking around London, it’s easy to imagine what the city looked like in the 1700s. A project by Redditor Shystone made it much easier to go back in time. Old paintings appear in the backdrop of Google’s Street View, bring past and present together.

Wired explains: 

The most incredible part of these images is in the details. Look closely at Canaletto’s 1749 painting of Westminster Abbey, and you’ll see what looks like a painted tree in the upper lefthand side. This is not product of Canaletto’s paintbrush, but rather a perfectly-aligned placement of the photograph Google shot more than 250 years later. It looks like it could be the same exact tree, though we know it’s not. Still, it’s fun to imagine that people have been stopping for shade under those very leaves for centuries.

This idea then, is the coolest part of mash-ups like Shystone’s: It makes you realize that despite all of the ways cities have changed over the years, maybe some things aren’t really that different after all. Sure, the little girl standing in the middle of William Logsdail’s 1888 painting of St. Martins in the Field maybe never existed, and if she did she has since been replaced with a bike lane and stop lights, but the general purpose of the space has remained essentially the same.

To see a slideshow of the images, head over to Wired.


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