What tools are available to visualize each historic version of an OSM way? In this case I want to find out the history of the (incorrect) long straight sections on Eagle View Trail and Vista Grande Road:


Open Street Map Error

How can I visualize each version and then track the matching change sets?

4 Answers 4


OSM Visual History is able to visualize each historic version of an OSM node or way.


  • this site is amazing! Exactly what I was looking for - thank you! Apr 7 at 17:27

You can visualize previous versions using OSM History Viewer. This works for changesets, nodes, ways and relations.

However it seems like this way has been incorrectly modified by moving one of its nodes. Moving a node does not create a new version for the way, unless tags have been modified. Thus comparing different versions of way 127011426 will not necessarily lead to the expected result (in fact there seems to be a related bug / shortcoming in OSM History Viewer as it initially shows the current version, but later doesn't). Comparing the corresponding node 1406575469 will show the changeset and user responsible for the error. I guess this has just been an accident, so try to be polite when contacting this user.

There is also an alternative OSM History viewer capable of comparing changesets.

Another option would be to use JOSM where you can download and view individual versions of each element. However this is not really suited for identifying the related changes.


You can also use overpass turbo and the attic feature of Overpass API to reconstruct a way how it was back then, or what changed between two dates. For the sake of simplicity, I will focus on the former:

out meta geom;

overpass turbo link: http://overpass-turbo.eu/s/drR

Try to experiment with different dates and check the results. Note that earliest possible date is in September 2012 (ODbL license change).

If you're interested in the difference, please check the Overpass QL documentation in the OSM wiki for [adiff: ] and (changed: ...) keywords.


Historical OSM data is available in the OpenStreetMap Full History Dump file. You can dowload it as *.pbf or *.xml data. Extracts of selected countries can be downloaded from http://osm.personalwerk.de/full-history-extracts/ or from http://odbl.poole.ch/extracts/.

Then, set up a PostgreSQL/PostGIS database and use the OSM history importer to import historic OSM data. Before, I'd recommend you to generate extracts out of *.osh using the OSM-history-splitter.

With the generated database schema every "version" of every osm-object ever created is visible in the database. Among others, you should be aware of the fact that only added or removed tags respectively nodes lead to a new version of the osm object. If a node of a street was only moved no new version will be created. The database handles this with a "minor-version" number.

Finally, the osm-history-renderer lets you visualize the results.

  • Both osm.personalwerk.de, as well as poole.ch only serve data which is almost 1-4 years old. Unfortunately, those two extract download sites are no longer actively maintained AFAIK. For more recent data you have to resort to a full history planet. That's a download of 48 GB (!) at this time.
    – mmd
    Dec 31, 2015 at 11:46

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