Time Travelling with Google Maps

Dubai is famous for its rapid development and construction projects. It turns out that you can see some of these projects on Google maps by merely zooming in and zooming out.

For example, take the “Business Bay” project, which involves expanding the 14km Dubai creek, an inlet of the Persian Gulf, up to a total of 26km inland, such that it curves through a newly built cluster of skyscrapers. This project has been stalled and delayed, such that development may not continue to its completion, but at least 22km of the total planned extension has been completed. Google Maps allows you to see the growth of the creek from its pre-21st century expansion to its current development but zooming in and out of google maps. Zoomed in, the satellite photographs are relatively current. Zooming out, the photographs are dated. (In addition to Business Bay, you can see the growth of Dubai in a number of other neighborhoods, such as the skyscrapers of the DIFC, the Burj Khalifa and downtown, and a new highway that crosses the creek).

The same can be seen for the Palm Jebel Ali, the second of three planned man-made Palm-shaped islands off the coast of Dubai. Zoom in and you can see how the original skeleton has expanded, and also the beginnings of the docks for boats.

growth of the palm

Looking at other parts of the world on Google maps, you can see the phenomenon in reverse. Recently, I visited Erbil in Kurdistan, Iraq. The international airport in Erbil is enormous, one of the largest airports in the world. Zoomed out on Google maps, the airport is a giant plot of land with one small runway. Zoomed in, you can see the complex as it currently appears, with an enormous runway from north to south.

growth or erbil airport

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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3 Responses to Time Travelling with Google Maps

  1. Adrian says:

    In Google Earth you can view historical imagery going back to 1994.

  2. Thomas says:

    For a lark I tried this on my own neighborhood and at one resolution we have a current picture, closer in slips back a few years to before my building had a new roof put on and one notch closer switches back to a more current picture.

    Thanks for this.

  3. Clovis69 says:

    One of the longest runways (15,748 feet), but not one of the biggest airports.

    The length puts it between Madrid and Harare