hypercities – historical layers for Google Earth based city maps

hypercities is a project of a collaboration of American universities under the lead of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) which has created a comprehensive Internet platform for the integration of geographical material in Google Maps.

“Built on the idea that every past is a place, HyperCities is a digital research and educational platform for exploring, learning about, and interacting with the layered histories of city and global spaces… the fundamental idea behind HyperCities is that all stories take place somewhere and sometime; they become meaningful when they interact and intersect with other stories” (www.hypercities.com)

At the moment the platform offers lots of data for 18 cities like Los Angeles, Mexico City, Teheran, London or Shanghai. Regarding the inner city development of Berlin for example the tool offers over 40 historical layers and a range of time from 1237 till 1989. Each map could be load individually or in combination. By switching a small slider, the transparency changes between 0 and 100 % and expose the relation between historical and current situation.

hypercities is more than an interesting project to illustrate historical city structures. It is also a practicable and good working tool to analyse places and the meaning of their cultural heritage – even for place branding concepts?


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