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Posted on Fri, May 10, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

New Google-powered map shows changes in Ann Arbor over nearly 30 years

By Ben Freed

Ann Arbor has changed a lot over the past 28 years. Now, thanks to a collaboration between Google, NASA, TIME, a lab at Carnegie Mellon University, and the United States Geological Survey you can see an aerial view of the progression.

Google’s new Earth Engine gives you the ability to see a moving time-lapse image of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, the entire United States or anywhere else in the world as it developed from 1984 to the present.

The pictures are grainy, and it is difficult to make out specific development projects, but the Washtenaw County clearly saw significant changes over the past few decades. You can specifically notice Ann Arbor expanding, especially to the southwest, as well as Dexter and Saline both growing significantly in the past 5-10 years.

On the website, certain areas that went through major changes over the past 25-plus years such as Las Vegas, the Amazon Rainforest and the Columbia Glacier in Alaska are highlighted for easy viewing.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


John of Saline

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

I'll have to try that out for Detroit.

David Cahill

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

This is really fun! Be sure to log in before you take the link.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

I think this movie illustrates quite nicely why the greenbelt initiative was and still is needed.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Um, no. I voted against it and still think it was a terrible idea economically. All it does is harm middle class/lower middle class people who make too much to qualify for government housing but are priced out of housing in town due to the artificial price inflation caused by the greenbelt activities restricting supply. All those decrying how terrible the Republicans are for the middle class are oddly silent on how terrible this initiative has been for the middle class who don't already own homes in Ann Arbor. But time will tell...


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

The street they have me on no longer exists! Granted it did back in 1965 or so.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Ho hum...

Kai Petainen

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

whoa! cool stuff...


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

No mobile device support. Only desktop browsers. Pretty lame, Google.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

Thanks for posting this. It is interesting and sad to see the open spaces being swallowed up by subdivisions. Lots of houses being built, but little thought about whether the roads and services can withstand it.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

I know. I'm a little sad now after watching the development of the old natural spaces in the NE corner of town that my family used to explore after we moved to AA. That was back when Green Rd wasn't connected, and it just ended in the woods a little north of the Chapel Hill and Maplewood neighborhoods.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

Google has had our house located a block away. They have a device for correcting the location. I moved it, they accepted, I left and went back and I'm at the old wrong location again. Google is great at a lot of things but not maps.

John of Saline

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

Funny. I found a whole street they missed in Georgia once (where a friend lives). They corrected it in a week.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

Wow..... Ok so BING MAPS had this feature when it launched a few years ago. You could look at historical maps of areas, including Ann Arbor. It was really cool and when combined with the aerial photography made bing maps easily better than google maps when looking at terrain. That feature vanished without explanation about a year ago. Looks like google snagged the patent for this idea and monopolized it. Way to not be evil there google....


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 6 p.m.

I love that I get all the negative votes for pointing something out... It's ok, you guys enjoy that google teat as long as it lasts...


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Yes, how terrible of them to develop and make this information available to everyone in the world. They really should be ashamed of themselves. "Google Earth Engine brings together the world's satellite imagery — trillions of scientific measurements dating back almost 40 years — and makes it available online with tools for scientists, independent researchers, and nations to mine this massive warehouse of data to detect changes, map trends and quantify differences on the Earth's surface. Applications include: detecting deforestation, classifying land cover, estimating forest biomass and carbon, and mapping the world's roadless areas." What vile and contemptible people these Google folk are.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

Confirmed: Nothing ever changes here.

Hugh Giariola

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

Wow, that was underwhelming.

Ben Freed

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

I know the quality of the images may be grainy, but as other readers pointed out the map does does reveal some of the changes that we've seen here in Ann Arbor over the years. I was particularly interested in the Pittsfield, Lodi and Scio Township area as you can see the transition from what appears to be farmland to housing developments development.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Thanks for posting this. I wondered whether something was wrong with my browser. Underwhelming pretty much sums it up.