Scratch Off 1924 New York to Reveal the Modern City

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What lies beneath 1924 New York City?  Chris Whong has created a fun online mapping application that lets users “scratch off” the 1924 aerial overlay to reveal modern New York underneath.

Navigate around the map either by typing in an address to zoom to or by panning and zooming to a desired location.  Click the Scratchoff button and simply start scrubbing the area with your cursor to reveal the underlying aerial.  The 1924 and current day aerials can be flipped to get the reverse effect.

The 1924 aerial comes from the New York Public Library’s aerial imagery collection and the current day aerials are from Mapquest’s OpenAerial tiles.  The code for the map hack is available on github.

Whong has a short write up about developing Urban Scratchoff and his inspiration for doing so, writing, “The idea popped into my head that it would be really interesting to “erase” the pre-BQE blocks on a historic photo to reveal the modern highway and get a better idea of the cost of progress.  To be honest, it reminded me of SimCity, where you can demolish whole swaths of land with a click of a mouse.   This would be much more than just comparing two aerial images of the same place… it would let the user choose an area to explore, and reveal the differences at their own speed, based on their own curiosity.”  

Explore: Urban Scratchoff


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