Google's new historic street views have created a chance to see just how much the local landscape has changed in the past seven years. At its simplest, the feature is a cool way to waste time online. But being able to see photos from 2007 to the present gives users snapshots of what happened to Long Island communities during the U.S. financial collapse and the ensuing Great Recession.

Many Long Island downtowns have gone through major changes. Some restaurants and shops held on, but others closed, either replaced by new enterprises or leaving vacant spaces.

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To illustrate the changes, here are more than a dozen Google street view images of downtown Smithtown showing places as they looked in 2008 and again in late 2013.

Click the link above to see the interactive.