Although it’s unclear what our future cities will look like, the Smithsonian just unveiled a series of awesome interactive maps that look back to the past. Created by by David Rumsey, the project pairs cool vintage maps with modern satellite images to show how cities have developed over time.

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Smithsonian magazine spotted these pretty amazing representations of American cities within the whopping 150,000 maps in David Rumsey’s magnificent collection that often date back to the last couple of centuries. The magazine gave the vintage maps new relevance by overlaying them with satellite images that allow users to make fascinating comparisons.

There are many intriguing elements to the maps written out in detail by Natasha Geiling and Esri. One pocketmap explores Chicago in 1868. The city grew to the East to facilitate a booming population, Rumsey explains in the accompanying text, and eventually went on to fill in Lake Michigan to create more land. Fresh water was channeled back to the city to aid such a rapid expansion, but all this was then devastated within a few years in the Great Chicago Fire.

Heading over to James Keiley’s map, one learns that in 1851, something similar took place in Washington D.C. as the city expanded into the Potomac River. Alternatively, compare Manhattan today to the city in 1836 for a great interactive experience. For the full list of maps head over to Smithsonian.

+ Smithsonian

Via Gizmodo