Google Maps: Street View

by JL Beeken on 2-22-2008

Google MapsMarlo Schuldt of Heritage Collector sent me two emails about this.

And this will give some people pause. Google is photographing houses. If not yours yet, someday.

If you go to Google Maps and type in your address, you might see a photo of your house overlaid on a regular map. You can navigate left and right and see the neighbours’ too. You can even rotate the screen and see the whole neighbourhood. So as not to offend anyone, this is just downtown Boston.

Google Maps

Google Earth has shown us the rooftops. Google Maps bring us to the front door. It’s a bit creepy. What I like about it, though, is that I can look up addresses for some of my ancestors and cousins and see where they lived.

When one of my cousins was making a trip to Ohio a few years ago, I asked her to take photos of houses that I remembered from childhood or had addresses for from census records.

The house where my great-grandaunt Amelia lived is still there, just as I remember. When I saw the 2005 photo I instantly felt myself running down the sidewalk to it as I had when I was 8 years old. Everything overwhelmed me in a flash; the smell in the air that day, the smell inside the house, Uncle Henry coming through from the kitchen to meet us. It just about knocked me off my chair.

On the next block is the house where my grandmother lived for 30 years and raised her children, where her husband was laid out on the kitchen table after being struck by lightning, where my father was a little boy and ran up and down the front porch stairs (I imagine.) In the 2005 photo there’s a woman sitting on that very porch talking on a cell phone. She doesn’t care why my cousin is taking pictures.

Those homes are not at Google Maps yet, but I suppose it’s just a matter of time.

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