Google Maps recently rolled out a new feature that essentially lets you travel back in time by accessing street views from as far back as 2007. That wasn't so long ago, but it's pretty remarkable to see how our streets have changed in just seven years. Remember 2007? It was the start of what's now considered one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. It was also the year in which Apple launched the iPhone and Google Maps unveiled its Street View panoramas – and thus began our collective obsession with photographing and documenting the world from our phones and computer screens.
We used Google Maps' Street View imagery to compare how L.A. streets have evolved. In some cases, formerly abandoned buildings got a restoration or a new paint job. Beloved businesses have come and gone. In more extreme cases, skyscrapers have been erected in what was once a vacant field. Let's take a trip back in Google Street View time and see how some of our most rapidly changing streets have fared in the last several years.
]700 block of Fourth Place, Little Tokyo: Back in the summer of 2007, the corner of Fourth Place in Little Tokyo looked like every other nondescript corner anchored by a warehouse in industrial downtown L.A.
In 2014, the purple-painted corner building is home to Eighty-Two, a new arcade bar that opened in March and has since become the go-to spot for classic arcade games, pinball marathons and DJ-hosted dance parties.
800 block of East Third Street, Little Tokyo: Just around the corner on Third Street in Little Tokyo, this boarded-up brick building sat vacant in the summer of 2007.
Years later, this bustling stretch of Little Tokyo boasts sausage joint Wurstküche, burger bar Umami and design shop Poketo. But the telltale sign that this 'hood's been revitalized isn't among those businesses, or the brewery and food trucks across the street on Alameda. It's the Shepard Fairey “Peace Goddess” wheat paste on the side of the building below.
800 block of South Broadway, downtown: Broadway in downtown L.A. has gotten a huge face lift in recent yeas, thanks in part to the folks behind the Ace Hotel, which took over the circa-1927 United Artists Theatre earlier this year. The Rialto Theatre, which opened in 1917, was vacant and available for rent in the summer of 2008.
Vacant no more. Looks like the Rialto Theatre found a tenant: Urban Outfitters, which moved into the historic space in late 2013.
200 block of South Main Street, downtown: Even Main Street near Skid Row has undergone a serious transformation in recent years. Back in 2008, at the height of the economic recession, this lot near the baroque Cathedral of Saint Vibiana was just a pile of dirt.
Fast forward to 2014: there's ample parking for guests of Vibiana, the 1876 cathedral that's now a posh event space, and the Downtown Independent, a super-modern movie house that opened in 2007 and hosts everything from indie film fests to wild comedy shows to rooftop fashion galas.
800 block of West Olympic Boulevard, downtown: Back in 2008, this construction site was a bit of an eyesore off the 110 Freeway.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and that former construction site is now the sleek, 54-story tower of the L.A. Live Marriott, complete with a rooftop pool and Ritz Carlton residences. The brand-new residential building across the street appears to be under construction still.
800 block of West Olympic Boulevard, downtown: Let's peer right across the street at this same intersection on Olympic. In 2008, this massive pile of wood and cement resembled an unfinished parking structure.
Now, it's an ultra-modern shopping mall that houses the Grammy Museum, Lucky Strike bowling alley and a bunch of upscale steakhouses. You probably could live at this place and never have to see the outdoors again.
[5000 block W. San Fernando Road Atwater Village: Back in 2009, this San Fernando Road warehouse looked just like every other L.A. River – adjacent warehouse.
It looks almost the same these days, except that now it's got a fresh coat of bright red paint, and it houses Golden Road Brewing, a pub and brewery that moved into the industrial neighborhood in 2011. It's been tough to snag a parking spot ever since.
2100 block Hillhurst Avenue, Los Feliz: If you were blindfolded and dropped off on this stretch of Los Feliz back in 2007, you might have mistaken it for Skid Row. The shops and windows are boarded up, trash fills the street, and the metered parking spots all sit empty.
Parking spots no more: This stretch of Hillhurst near Los Feliz Boulevard is always jam-packed, thanks to dining destinations like Little Dom's and Messhall Kitchen.
2100 block Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park: In 2008, a year before it went up for sale, the long-shuttered Ramona Theater was home to tent dwellers who set up camp underneath its marquee.
Now, the former vaudeville theater is unmistakable as Mohawk Bend, a sports bar outfitted with flat-screen TVs, vegan pizzas and 72 craft beers on tap.
1700 block Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park: One of the most historic stretches of Echo Park's Sunset Boulevard is this block near the 1920s-era Jensen's Recreation Center. Back in 2007, the storefronts on this block were mostly boarded-up discount fashion shops and laundromats.
This strip mostly looks the same these days, except that it's now home to Dave Eggers' tutoring center 826LA, independent book shop Stories and Out of the Closet thrift shop, which boasts some of the wildest window displays on this side of town. Oh, and that laundromat? It's now out of business.
3000 block West Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake: Back in 2007, this stretch of Sunset near Silver Lake Boulevard looked mostly deserted.
Fast forward a couple of years, and it's amazing what a couple of awnings, some outdoor seating and greenery can do for the neighborhood. All those metered spots? Gone, thanks to always crowded whiskey bar Thirsty Crow, vegetarian eatery Local and brand-new pizza place Wood, in the former Tom's Burgers space just down the street.
8800 block Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood: Back in 2007, you could still spot the red-and-yellow remains of one of L.A.'s most iconic record stores: Tower Records on the Sunset Strip. The beloved music chain filed for bankruptcy in 2006, and shuttered its most famous location soon thereafter.
Last year, fans started an online petition to preserve this building as a historic landmark, but the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Commission decided it didn't meet the criteria for cultural preservation. And there it still sits, vacant and white-washed.
6300 block Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood: Back in 2008, Sunset at Vine was a pretty hip corner. Hey, look! A bookstore. Remember those?
You won't find a Borders bookstore, which declared bankruptcy in 2011, on any street corner anymore. It's about as extinct as a Blockbuster video store. It's been replaced by a mega-Walgreens, which includes a sushi counter, juice bar, wine bar and a frozen yogurt station, among other amenities.
400 block North Fairfax Avenue, Fairfax: Back in 2007, this historically Jewish neighborhood was home to mom-and-pop shops, such as Ataras Judaica Book & Gift Store.
That storefront now houses Dope, a streetwear shop that sells dope clothing – or, literally clothing with the word “dope” written all over it. Rosewood Tavern inhabits the next storefront over.
5000 block York Boulevard, Highland Park: In 2007, the intersection of York Boulevard and Avenue 50 was fairly quiet. There was an insurance company and a boarded-up storefront on the ground floor of this two-story brick building.
Just a couple years later, this intersection is one of the most high-traffic areas in northeast L.A. Luckily, there's also a brand-new bike lane and bike racks. That former insurance company is now Cafe de Leche, and the boarded-up storefront is now home to indie bookstore Pop Hop. Johnny's Bar is the popular watering hole next door.
500 block Rose Avenue, Venice: There's been a fair amount of change on the Westside, too. Let's head to Rose Avenue in Venice, which in 2007 looked pretty desolate. Rose Market is on one side of the street, and a vacant lot is on the other. Look at all that untouched real estate!
In 2014, that same stretch of Rose is nearly unrecognizable. Cafe Gratitude, Hostaria del Piccolo, Moon Juice and the Yoga Collective have moved in, and new condos have been erected on that once-vacant lot.
500 block of Rose Avenue, Venice: Let's look a little further up the block. More vacant lots, circa 2008.
Vacant lots no longer. The New York Times declared Rose Avenue “blossoming” in 2013, and it's never been truer. More condos fill the 'hood, in addition to businesses like Superba Snack Bar and Venice Beach Wines.
3500 block Hayden Avenue, Culver City: This stretch of Hayden in Culver City was fairly industrial and unremarkable in 2007, five years before the Expo line was unveiled just across the street.
Then all the architecture and design firms moved in and transformed the Hayden Tract into one of the most architecturally spectacular sites in all of Los Angeles. Just check out Eric Owen Moss' Samitaur Tower, which is illuminated at night with a downright otherworldly glow.
600 block West Cesar Chavez Avenue, Chinatown: This construction site at the corner of Grand Avenue and Cesar Chavez Boulevard between Echo Park and Chinatown looked a bit ominous in 2007.
The Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts opened in 2009, and reportedly cost more than $230 million to build. It's still one of the wackiest, most modern additions to the downtown L.A. skyline.
100 block South Grand Avenue, downtown: Remember when you could walk along Grand Avenue and look out over the great, empty expanse of downtown L.A.? That empty plot of land across from the Museum of Contemporary Art is empty no longer.
Eli Broad's art museum broke ground across from MOCA in 2012, and the $140 million honeycomb-style building is scheduled to open in 2015. Want to watch the building's progress? Forget Google Street View. You can watch a live broadcast of the museum's construction online here. Welcome to the future, Angelenos.