In cities, the past is always peeking through the surface: cobblestones beneath some torn-up asphalt; a vanished street that still shapes the properties around it. Urban Scratch-Off, a new tool by digital mapmaker Chris Whong, aims to recreate that palimpsestic experience online, with an approach inspired by lottery tickets.
Whong layered an aerial photograph of New York City from today beneath another one from 1924 (a remarkable find from the New York Public Library), and coded in a “scratch-off” effect. Click and rub your cursor over a section of the old map, and you’ll see modern-day New York revealed underneath. You can search for specific addresses, flip the maps so that new sits on top of old, and opt to simply “pan and zoom” when you’ve done enough scratching.