Wondering What the World Looked Like Before? SepiaTown.

I like maps. I like vintage photographs. So it’s no wonder I like SepiaTown, which combines maps with vintage photographs. You can try it at http://www.sepiatown.com/.

The front page has links to featured areas and a map of New York, but you can also search out interesting places of your own. I did a search for Washington DC and a few other places but I didn’t have any luck until I did a search for Hollywood, zoomed out, and found a few places in Los Angeles.

The old images are placed on a map. Click on them and you’ll get a vintage photo side by side with a map with links over it. The links give you additional detail about the image, any available comments (though I didn’t see any), an opportunity to share the image with a huge host of social networks/bookmarking sites/etc, and, best of all, the ability to compare the image then to the current Google Mapped image now. (Since not all streets are still there some of the map placements are approximate.)

The images I saw came from a variety of places, including public library collections, Flickr Commons, and Wikipedia. All the uploads I saw were from SepiaTown staff, though the site encourages uploads from visitors. There is a site blog available that shows highlights from the collection, as well as a latest uploads page.

How much you get from this site depends on where you’re looking — some places are wonderfully covered but many places have no pictures at all. I hope very much the site gets more contributions from the Web in general. SepiaTown will really be something to see when 70%, say, of searched locations give you a map with pictures.

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