Ephemeral Cities; Historical Google Earth?

Key WestOne of the projects in UF’s Digital Collections is Ephemeral Cities. The project is like Google Earth in that it spatially and contextually situates data and allows that data to be searched by term and category. The really neat part is that Ephemeral Cities does so using maps from around the turn of the last century (1890-1920). The old maps contain a great deal of information, and a lot of it relates to the local environment, culture, politics, and even the constraints of the time (like the way Key West developed in relation to water travel and then the overseas railroad). Eventually, it will be great to expand this project even further and tap into other collections and themes, like railroads and their influence on the development of different areas.
As those materials are added, collections like this would be perfect for virtual tourism and for providing the core setting behind massive games. In the meantime, Ephemeral Cities are fun to look at and think about for larger upcoming projects.