What Was There

A Web 2.0 Tool for viewing the present with the past.

The WhatWasThere project uses technology - digital photographs and google maps - to create a sort of time machine on the web. The Web 2.0 tool allows teachers and students to compare a historical photograph with the present day location. The Web 2.0 tool can be used to start a classroom discussion about how the present differs from the past. Social Studies classes can search the vast library of photos for primary sources. Language Arts classes can visit places in the stories they are reading and find photos for the time period. Science classes can look for environmental change or the impact of science on a location. The website does not require registration to explore photos, which makes it a good resource for students to use when doing research. An account is required for uploading photos. Maybe you or a student has some photos to share. Detailed instructions for using the site are given below, along with a video on how to use the site. Have fun looking at the past and comparing it to the present.

What Was There Video

What Was There

Exploring What Was There Links

The links below will take you to some examples of photos that have been uploaded to What Was There and give you an idea how it works.


The White House in the 1880s

1776 - Denyse's Ferry (Battle of Long Island) - The first major battle of The American Revolution

Mount Rushmore 1905 - before the Presidents Memorial was carved

Ford Motor Company - early 1900's

First President to Ride in an Automobile - 1902

1973 - Lake Ponchartrain Spilling Onto Illegal Dumping Ground

1881-New Orleans Wharf Scene-Post Hurricane