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Adding 3D areas in Google Earth usually takes a while, especially with capital cities, bridges and major landmarks, because there are certain details that Google has to pay special attention to. So it came as a surprise when new 3D areas of Washington, D.C. were added.

Google has to acquire special permissions to fly over security-sensitive areas, such as the White House and its surroundings, to get a bird’s eye view of the entire location and then take pictures. This should have caused more delays. So what happened?

There were 3D images of everything else, except for what is known as the National Mall and surrounding areas. The most security-sensitive areas include the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The imagery captured is almost 2 years old, taken around October 2014.

It is unclear whether these areas will ever be added to Google Earth, or that Google is working on acquiring 3D images of them.

Nevertheless, the 3D imagery of Washington, D.C. looks more realistic than ever, with trees looking almost similar to the real thing. This could mean that Google has improved its 3D imagery processing, successfully finding ways to deal with overhangs. So those trees that used to look like large bushes, now look more realistic in the new 3D imagery. Although some of the tree trunks are missing, when others are quite visible, the improvement is quite evident.

You may also notice that some of the old types of 3D buildings are no longer visible next to the new 3D area. This is because Google usually turns them off, when a new 3D area is added.

What other changes have been made to Google Earth? You might want to download Google Earth 7.0 or whatever is the latest version to make comparisons.