This fascinating Web project takes you straight to way back when

What Was There allows you to compare before and after photos of any number of buildings and places, all over the world.

Enter your town or zip code—this works especially well if you live in a big, well-photographed city—or pick a place you’ve always been curious about. With luck, you’ll see a historical photo that someone took at exactly the same spot way back when. You can zoom in on the details, or click over to street view (one of the project’s best features lets you slide between, and overlay, then and now views of the scene), and if no one’s uploaded a photo, you can post one of your own. What Was There is relatively new, and as of this writing, China, Australia, and Africa are wide open. But there’s plenty to see already in the United States and Europe, and we can only imagine how cool the database will be a year from now.

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This fascinating Web project takes you straight to way back when