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Columbia Missourian

IN THE WORKS: How has the landscape in your neighborhood changed over the years?

By Brendan Gibbons
March 20, 2013 | 2:24 p.m. CDT

Missourian reporter Brendan Gibbons is interested in exploring how Columbia’s landscape has changed in recent memory. We've compiled some Google Earth satellite images showing some of the changes visible from the sky (linked below).

These satellite images from Google Earth show what has changed in the area north of I-70 in Columbia from 1995 to the most recent image from 2013. Google Earth has satellite images of Columbia for each year since 1995.

Missourian reporter Brendan Gibbons wants to know how the environment in your neighborhood has changed in recent years. If you have stories or photos you want to share, you can contact Brendan at

While speaking to scientists who study birds in January for a completely unrelated story, I kept hearing about "natural Boone County." I learned that for many species of birds that live in forest interiors, Boone County is no longer a suitable home.

As Columbia grew, many of its forest interiors became forest edges as trees were knocked down to build new homes. I heard from two scientists that the only reason we see many species of interior birds in Boone County is because they’re arriving from larger forests, such as those in the Ozarks.

I became interested in exploring how Columbia’s landscape has changed in recent memory. I’m pinpointing the areas of the city where forest land has been developed in the past roughly 20 years. The goal is not to portray development as evil. It’s to explore what happens when trees come down and a neighborhood or strip mall goes up.

Oral history could play a strong role in this project. If you were to ask me about my childhood in Grand Junction, Colo., I could tell you plenty about how the kids in my neighborhood played games in the empty scrub desert that would later be filled in with houses. I could tell you about the dirt ramps we built for our bikes or the mysterious burrow where we could have sworn we found dinosaur bones. My childhood playground is now under someone’s lawn. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Google Earth keeps archives of satellite photos dating back to 1995. I've gathered images of Columbia in 1995, 2003 and 2013 and placed them in a Facebook album.

Take a look and see how your neighborhood has changed in recent years.

So where was your childhood playground in Columbia, and what happened to it? Do you have memories or photos to share of wild spaces that are now apartment complexes, mini malls or cul-de-sacs? Has your favorite outdoor spot been preserved?

I’d like to request your help in telling this story. You can leave a comment at the bottom of this story, comment on the Facebook album or send me an email at

Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.