Friday, February 15, 2008

Go Street With Google Maps

Copyright Google 2008
Google added several more cities to the street view version of Google maps this week. Lawrence, KS Overland Park, KS and the Kansas City metro are covered. You can see a picture of a location when you enter an address in Google Maps. My friend Michael left Lawrence in 1989 and never returned. He moved to New York and a return trip to Kansas isn't likely anytime soon. Now he can cruise the streets of Lawrence as if he were there, and the way they captured the data with 360 degree clarity is impressive. Lawrence photos were snapped in August 2007.

The software isn't flawless, addresses in the maps application are only approximate in the street view pop-up flash player, for example, and some locations have been excluded or overlooked, or kluged. I tried to cruise past William Burroughs' last home on Learnard Avenue and it skipped to the next block for no apparent reason. These are minor complaints. The body of work, the scope of this project is unreal, and I hope Google will keep distinct versions archived for historic reasons. I'd like to cruise 2007 Lawrence again, say, in 50 years. Approximate virtual time travel.

I zoomed over to Kansas City and found my current home. It was a sunny day when the Google Street View cruiser with the 360 degree camera strapped to the roof, drove past my drive (spot it in street view anytime by panning down). Oddly, all three of my childhood homes in the Roeland Park and Fairway area were not covered. The neighborhood between Roe & Nall at 55th street isn't included. I lived in the 5400 block of Rosewood from 1969 to 1974. We moved to Fairway between my 3rd and 4th grade year near St. Agnes church. In 1976, we moved three blocks west past the Shawnee Indian mission. That neighborhood is also absent from the google street view. A small omission when you consider the scope of the entire project, but a sizeable loss for me personally, or should I say for that time traveler of the future who might like to see what my stomping grounds looked like in 2007.

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