Thursday, June 26, 2008

Google Map Street Views

It seems like I'm always late in finding the really nifty online "tools" that can help me find information about my families and their localities.

I just used the Street View tool on Google Maps for the first time. I wanted to get directions from my house to the Burbank airport Marriott Hotel, so I input my address and the hotel address into Google Maps. I got directions, and much more. Here's the screen shot with the directions on the left and the map on the right.

I noticed that there was a lot of blue on the map in urban areas... what is that? I zoomed in and saw that many streets are outlined in blue - this means that there is a Street View available for those streets. The screen shot below shows my Chula Vista neighborhood.

You can see the little marker I put at the end of my street - the place I live. If I click on it, a small picture of my house comes up - that's it in the screen shot below with the white garage door and the brown trim. That's my car on the curb - but you can't read the plate number.

I can make the Street View full screen, and see more of the neighborhood, as shown below.

I can zoom out, use the arrow in the street to go in certain directions, and use the cursor to turn one way or another to change the view.

This capability is fantastic, isn't it? While it's limited to only the streets that they have videographed, they have done many urban areas and scenic routes.

How can this help genealogists? Well, if you want to know what your destination looks like (say the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel!), then you can see a view of the location before you go there. Now, I may be able to recognize the Hotel as I drive up North Hollywood Way looking for Thornton Street.

Think about your ancestral homes -- if you know where your families were at specific times (say, from the census or a city directory), you can obtain a Street View of the building as it looked when they did the videographing (assuming they have done it for that location).

Have you seen your ancestral homes lately?

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