What Was There – Photos and Maps Linking Past and Present

What Was There LogoDo you have an old photo of a home, building or structure and ever wonder what is there now?
The online site ‘What Was There‘ helps you find an answer to that question. There is a long list of locations, most within the United States, but some from Scotland, England, The Netherlands and France to select from.

Once a place is selected, click on the name. A map of the area appears with roads marked, rivers, present-day parks, and neighborhoods. To the left will be images from that town. Clicking on an image enlarges it for viewing and also provides details of the photo. The date was taken, the location name, some history, if available on the place, the source and copyright of the photo. There is even a magnifier to view closeup on portions of the image.

One of the greatest features for this site that while looking at the photo, you can see a present-day street view of the location from the photo. Sometimes the building, bridge, house is still standing, just as it has for decades. Other times the structure may have been remodeled or changed in appearance over time. Or only the land spot remains, the building or structure in the photo no longer exists and something total different, such as a super highway is in its place. You have the option to do a fade with the photo to reveal the present-day site, a very interesting feature.

The database of images can be expanded tremendously by the option that anyone can down load their own images for the site. The contributed photos can be of any time or any place in the world. Most places will work in connection with finding the present-day location on Google Maps.

There are photos of famous places and well-known individuals such as Queen Victoria in 1863 at her Scottish castle in Balmoral are available. Since the image of the Queen on her horse, there is no street scene, but rather the map pinpointing where Balmoral Castle is located.

Just to view history transforming before your eyes is fascinating. There is a 1910 photo of a streetcar in the town of Washtenaw, Michigan traveling a snowy path. When the street view is called up and then the fade feature applied, you can view the past as it blends into the present.

It is great to see landmarks as they once were and have that same view transform to the today. The City Hall building at 240 Broadway in New York City is an excellent example. The old photo of City Hall is from approximately 1900 and some hundred plus years later the building is fairly the same from the outside and there are parks and other building surrounding it.

It is free to register, creating a user name and a password. Full instructions are provided for downloading your own collection of images.

The web site looks at the site as a form of a time machine. You have the opportunity to see places as they are now and how they looked at one time. It is a wonderful source to further investigate locations your ancestors lived, worked or visited.

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