Google Maps' Street View Comes to D.C.
Today, a long-awaited development has come to pass that ensures people will see our nation's capital in a dramatically new light.
The Mountain View, Calif., info-empire launched Street View back in May 2007 with coverage of five cities, then steadily expanded it across other parts of the country. Back in January, during a tour of Google's headquarters, I asked when the District would join their ranks and was told that Google had already taken the necessary photos.
And yet another 10 months came and went in which Web users trying to find their way in the Washington area were stuck with the same old aerial shots on Google's site.
(Street Views are also coming online today for Baltimore and Seattle, so maybe Google just had something against cities with really bad baseball teams... no, wait, Kansas City got Street View months ago.)
So what happened? Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo said yesterday that the company elected to reshoot some photographs of local streets in a higher resolution.
To judge from the Street View scenery on display now, these photos date from late winter to mid summer. Block-by-block coverage seems to be limited to the District and its closest neighbors; outside the Beltway or, in some cases, the District itself, you can only get Street Views of major thoroughfares.
Filadelfo did knock down one theory that's been suggested in some of my Web chats, that the Feds told Google these perspectives represented a security risk. "We did have some discussions with relevant local and federal authorities, but I would not characterize it as having to get permission," she said. Indeed, you can "walk" up to such government institutions as the Capitol and the Treasury Department (although a stretch of Route 110 just east of the Pentagon doesn't come with any Street Views).
Now that you can zoom into a Google Map of a local road and look around as if you were standing right on that sidewalk, we can all take our turn at a popular Street View game--seeing how many photos your car/bike/dog/cat/self shows up in. Report back here with your observations!
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