Three years ago, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan and moved the entire island by 8 feet, changing the way the Earth spun on its axis in the process. The devastation of the tsunami that followed resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, and the country’s infrastructure.

In the aftermath, Google set out to preserve imagery it had captured prior to the disaster, including original Street View recordings that became an unintended time capsule. The company made a one-off site called Memories for the Future that let viewers see certain areas before and after the devastation. It was an unusual site considering Google’s standard operating procedure: a feverish pace of updates that erased the old with the new and never looked back.

Google’s changing that now with a feature that lets you step back in time to earlier versions of its Street View data, going back to 2006. Since then, each time the company updated Street View data, it also quietly kept the older versions. And in numerous cases, skipping between them is the difference between desolation and a sprawling metropolis, or — like in Japan’s case — vice versa.