GM loves browsing around Google Maps. It’s a quick way to survey the city without leaving the couch. And GM was particularly excited to find out that a website called historicalaerials.com archives old aerial photos and enables you to browse around them. For Georgetown, the earliest shots are from 1951.
On one level, it’s simply fascinating to stare down at the shot above and know that it’s Georgetown frozen in a moment from 61 years ago. If you could zoom in close enough, you’d see bobby soxers and woodies on the streets. And more poignantly, it could be that somewhere down there a young Congressman Kennedy could be among the small dots on the sidewalk.
As for specific sites that GM noticed:
Here you can see the historic Curtis School still standing where the Hyde-Addison playground now is. This beautiful building was torn down in 1951, the year this shot was supposedly taken.
Here you can see that there were open fields where the Orchard La. development now winds from 31st to P.
Here freight rail cars line up along the Potomac. Notice the Capital Traction Power House with its two tall smokestacks next to the train cars.
One particularly cool feature of this site is that you can compare the photos with more recent ones. This led GM to compare the 1951 shot of the waterfront with the most recent shot the website has, the one from 2005. And it’s interesting to see the old waterfront buildings wiped away, but it’s truly shocking to be reminded that the beautiful new waterfront park was so recently a giant parking lot:
Have a poke around yourself.