How to Find Aerial Photos From a Certain Date & Time

Over time, people have taken aerial photographs to chart lands and historical locations. Aerial photographs were first used in the 1930s but were not readily available until more recently. Now, with more advanced GPS technology, aerial photographs are updated constantly and can provide much more accurate imagery.

Aerial view of a community
credit: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Step

If the date you're looking for comes after March 28th, 1995, download Google Earth. This program offers the closest specificity with dates. In the past (and now with the historical aerial imagery), photos were taken much less frequently. With Google Earth you can determine the exact day and even hour depending on the location. However, because the technology was still evolving, Google Earth's date range does not span further back than March, 28th, 1995.

Step

Specify what you want to see. In the left column, under the words “Fly to,” there is a spot where you can type in addresses. Type in your reference point as specifically as possible, with either an address or longitude/latitude coordinates. Press Enter. This will “fly” you to your location.

Step

In the tool bar, click on the small analog clock. A new bar will appear with a slider dating as far back as March 28th, 1995. You can move the slider to your exact date or click the wrench icon in the top right-hand corner of the toolbar that appeared when you clicked the analog clock. Type in your exact date and time and press Enter. You can then zoom in or out to see your area.

Step

Depending on the date you are looking at, Google may provide three-dimensional imagery of certain cities, like Las Vegas, Paris and New York. This enables users to see the sides of the buildings as well as scan over the land.