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New Jersey Time Machine
September 19, 2011 6:45 PM   Subscribe

If you live in New Jersey, you can see what your home and the surrounding area looked like from above in the year 1930.
posted by candasartan (25 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
On the other hand, you live in New Jersey.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:47 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay, now that I've done the mandatory snark (I live in Philly; ragging on Jersey is required by law), this is... kind of cool? Unfortunately, the realities of aerial photography at the time limit how much detail there is to see, so there's less of the "ooh, and look how this street changed!" than I'd like there to be.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:55 PM on September 19, 2011


Historic Aerials is for those of us that don't live in NJ. My childhood home is pictured as it looked in 1938, but most areas don't go back that far.
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:00 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, Historic Aerials seems to be using Silverlight, so not available to all.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:05 PM on September 19, 2011


The house I grew up in is exactly where it should be, but most of the rest of the block is still trees. Pretty neat!
posted by Oktober at 7:29 PM on September 19, 2011


Can't see my place even though I know it was there in 1910. It looked nicer in 1910, too.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:40 PM on September 19, 2011


Thanks for the link. I put NJ State Atlas together as a example/demo site a few years ago when I worked in state government, before web mapping and open source GIS was seen as something government could embrace (ie not "enterprise-y" enough).

I also have the old USGS topo maps in a Google Maps interface at /topo/ and an analysis of instant-win versus picked-number lottery winners at /luck/.

And if you want to look through old photos in Google Earth, you can use this link to view the 1930s data and this link to view historic (circa 1900) topo maps of NJ. The 1974 aerial photos used to be available, but it looks like it's temporarily down.
posted by johnjreiser at 7:59 PM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Farms. I see lots and lots of farms. *snif* That's changed.

The house I grew up in was new then.
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


For more historical areal photos ...

http://www.terraserver.com/

Some areas have more history than others. But you can see short term changes in most urban areas.
posted by LoudMusic at 8:34 PM on September 19, 2011


Don't live there anymore but my hometown looks almost the same then as now. It was pretty much built out by WWI.
posted by octothorpe at 8:35 PM on September 19, 2011


I can't resist posting this here
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:53 PM on September 19, 2011


where I grew up there is nothing in 1930. That's kind of weird.
posted by mephron at 10:06 PM on September 19, 2011


Yep, like Miko's town, there used to be lots and lots of farms and woodlands surrounding my town back then. (Even when I was a kid, it was still pretty much that way in my part of South Jersey.) It makes me sad to see the farms now filled with tract houses. The area as it is now would be pretty unrecognizable to someone from 1930, not just physically but culturally as well (but I have to say that not all the cultural changes are bad, by any means).
posted by gudrun at 12:27 AM on September 20, 2011


My family lives in Cape May County and one of the most interesting things is seeing that South Cape May still seems to be there in these photos.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:26 AM on September 20, 2011


The other weird thing is that by the time these photos were taken, most of the land that would eventually have housing tracts looks like it was already cleared. So, for the most part, the southern tip of New Jersey today looks a lot like it did back then.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:42 AM on September 20, 2011


The area as it is now would be pretty unrecognizable to someone from 1930

When I visit home I sometimes feel it's unrecognizable to someone from 1980, in certain areas.

The other weird thing is that by the time these photos were taken, most of the land that would eventually have housing tracts looks like it was already cleared.

It was all cleared, pretty much by the turn of the nineteenth century, because it was all farms. Most of the state was farms, hence the nickname. The decline in farmland is something serious (and sad, because the state's farmland topsoil is prime, and underneath tract houses it loses quality). Some statistics from just the 80s to now - the highest figures from 30some years ago represent less than half of the farmland that existed at the turn of the 20th century. How the state's face has changed.
posted by Miko at 5:13 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Miko:

If you want to see how serious the decline in farmland has been over the last twenty-so years, check out the New Jersey Land Change Viewer. The Viewer has animated web maps that depict urban growth and agricultural, forest, and wetland losses. It was created from the Land Use/Land Cover data that has been commissioned by DEP on a somewhat regular basis. Full disclosure: another project I worked on.
posted by johnjreiser at 5:51 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's excellent, johnjreiser. Really cool projects.

I was wondering why it's hard to find statistical data before the 1980s? I noticed that on the State Dept. of Ag site too.
posted by Miko at 7:31 AM on September 20, 2011


The subdivision where I grew up is mostly forest in the 1920s, but was clearly a farm earlier than that, since there were stone walls through the woods.
posted by smackfu at 8:56 AM on September 20, 2011


Yeah, the entire Northeast was pretty much deforested in the 18th century, so almost all forest was second-growth. There are exceptions but just a few. The green, forested East is a product of the dawn of the industrial era and mill building, when farm industry began a long decline.
posted by Miko at 9:22 AM on September 20, 2011


Just looked at the place where I grew up - there is a subdivision next to it that did not appear in real life until the mid-1970's. This photography looks pretty recent to me - am I missing something?
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 12:56 PM on September 20, 2011


Wylie, that happened to me, and I had to play with the settings and ultimately reload to get the 1930s images. I'm not sure I completely understand the interface.
posted by Miko at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2011


You also need to turn the opacity slider on the right down (or up?) all the way, otherwise the result is a blend of the old and new images.
posted by smackfu at 2:56 PM on September 20, 2011


Hmm. What I'm seeing is definitely not the 1930s. I grew up in NJ 1957 - 1970. No matter how I manipulate the settings on the page, I see streets, developments and schools that didn't exist until the 60s or later. And lots of swimming pools. There certainly weren't all those swimming pools there anytime before the 70s. Not what it says on the tin?
posted by Corvid at 7:32 PM on September 20, 2011


For those of you having issues with the 1930s imagery not showing up, what browser are you using? I gave up on IE's handling of opacity a long time ago.

@Miko: The State has many statistics and maps pre-1980s, all paper hard-copy. The 1980s brought GIS into the scene, thus introducing a different mindset regarding retention. If you're familiar with ESRI, the "Microsoft of the GIS World", the State of New Jersey (specifically DEP) has a double-digit customer number. The university I now work for has had GIS for at least two decades, and we have a 5 digit customer number. NJ DEP has been using it since at least 1986. While there has been a wealth of data available digitally through OPRA (NJ's state-level FOIA), most of the hard-copy remains accessible only via a trip to Trenton.
posted by johnjreiser at 9:18 PM on September 20, 2011


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