How to use Lookbackmaps


Browsing the maps is pretty self explanatory, but you should know about a few elements that are available to you. First, when you click on a camera image, you will see a popup of an historical photo, together with a date of photo, time of last update and username, as well as the source and any notes that were added by the Lookbackmaps user.

When you go to the details page, you will see the historical photo on the left, and a recent photo on the right, if one has been entered. You will see the dates of the respective photos, details and the source of the photo. Finally at the bottom of the page, you will see a google Street View of the location, which you can manipulate to your liking. Clicking on the historical photo will take you to the source page where that photo is featured, where you will often find more information about the subject matter. The same is true of the recent photo.

The Next Level: Adding Entries

We're looking forward to seeing what you've discovered in the vaults of history! But first thing's first. It's important to note that we take copyright seriously and have created this site to help people dig deeper into the history of their own neighborhoods. As part of that mission we do not accept any photo uploads directly, but instead link to other sources on the web. Any photo linked here must have a source. Not only does this drive traffic back to the men, women and institutions that archived the material, but it also gives readers the chance to follow up on topics of interest with the archival sources directly.

The Add Entry Form

Most of these are self explanatory, but some are not, so we've posted some explanations and tips on each one.

Date Range: Choose the date range the historical photo falls under.

Title: Choose your title.

Location: This must be an address with city and state. Most of the time, there is no direct address and you just have to get as close as you can. In a new window or tab, you can go to and zoom in pretty close to the location--they list the street numbers on the blocks. NOTE: unless you override the street view below, Lookbackmaps will automatically generate a street view for the photo based on this address.

Date: Check circa if it is approximate or unknow, but you must choose a year.

Old Photo: Paste the url to the actual image of the historical photo.

Source: Name the source of the historical photo.

Source Link: Paste the url of the historical photo page, where the institution often has more information about the image.

Notes: You can create your own notes or use the notes from the historical photo

Override Street View? Click yes to override the automatic street view.

Street View Embedded Google Map: If you check yes above and leave this blank, it will remove the street view on the details page. If you would like to fine tune your street view (which is necessary most of the time to match the view of the historical photo), this is what you need to do.

1.       In a new window or tab, go to and find your location, then click the Street View button.

2.       Drag the google man to the location and frame the street view exactly how you want it.

3.       Once you have it the way you want it, find the Link hyperlink on the top right above the map. Click on Link, then “Customize and preview embedded map”

4.       This will open a new window.  In section 1, click Custom and fill in Width 650, Height 350

5.       Copy and paste all of the HTML in box 3 and paste this into the Lookbackmaps form.

Present Photo: paste the url for the actual image of the present photo, if you have one.

Present Photo Link Source:  Paste the url for the present photo page, be it the Flickr or Picasa page or whatnot.

Present Photo Date:  Fill out the date of the present photo (because before long, it’s going to be in the past as well!)


Map your place in history.


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