Mink Machine

Google Maps goes photographic

My favorite creative minds are back! Yesterday Google, also known as “Microsoft done right”, improved their already fantastic web application Google Maps, now including satellite photos from DigitalGlobe and Earthsat, covering United States and Canada. And it’s fast! Try it at once.

It is very addictive to zoom in on your favorite places – the rusty Golden Gate bridge (check out the illusion of a pylon created by the shadows), the island of Alcatraz, french quarter of New Orleans, Boston’s North End area (what’s up with the Big Dig?), Manhattan… hey, even Winnipeg!

You may feel a bit disoriented in the beginning as the familiar naming labels from traditional maps are gone, but it’s well worth the effort. Marvel at the shadows cast from the tall buildings, the only way to extract any sense of height from the satellite photo. For instance, try the obelisk in central Washington DC.

Google Maps screenshots Zooming in on Gateway Arch in St Louis, Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, Statue of Liberty in New York and Washington Monument in Washington DC.

Speaking of Washington, I noticed that the area around Capitolium is blurred and only available at a far lower resolution than the rest of the town. Perhaps it’s another bright and creative act from the Homeland Security department? If anyone wants to know the exact scale of that building, there are far more reliable sources than Google maps.

Since the two objects are quite near each other I suppose they are on the same tile of the orthographic photo. Maybe they have tampered with the shadows as well, to avoid anyone comparing the shadow to that of the well-defined obelisk and from that calculate the height of the Capitolium? Or maybe not. Anyone knowing of other disabled locations?

Update: The Capitolium area is no longer dimmed.

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Reine

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Reine is a web developer who enjoys caffeine-fueled urban traveling. More...

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