In the first 10 years of OpenStreetMap, hundreds of thousands of people have mapped 25 million miles of roads in every country in the world. Here is a look back at how the most detailed map of the world started.

This area near Koblenz, Germany exemplifies the process. In a way analogous to how cities themselves grow, volunteer mappers began with a bare framework of major roads and then worked outward to fill in adjacent areas with ever-increasing detail.

Looking closer at cities highlights that even once the map is “complete,” it is never really done. This view of Manila shows that the streets of the city were nearly all mapped in the first few years, but refinement of detail has never ceased.

Many US cities cut short the early stages of the process by importing street data from the Census Bureau’s TIGER maps. This view of eastern Los Angeles shows the rapid import after an initial period of purely community mapping, followed by ongoing extensive community work to clean up the imported data.

Finally, an overview of Japan shows how an entire country comes to be mapped. Tokyo fills in first, followed by other major cities and the roads connecting them, and then a series of waves of activity adding more rural areas and further enhancing the urban detail.

We made an animated map so you can see how everywhere else in the world also came to be mapped in OpenStreetMap. Use the Jump button to see other highlights, or pan and zoom to your own neighborhood.