Google maps now offers street view

It’s like being in two places at one time. Take a tour through the heart of Boston, or drive on the Golden Gate Bridge all while at the convenience of your home’s computer. With Google Street View, a new program for providing directions, it’s possible to “experience” some of this nation’s most prominent locations. Through 360-degree panoramic street-level views of select major cities, the new age of giving directions will forever change, and the generation of “Map Quest” will be no more.

First launched last May, this site only gave access to the streets of 23 major cities, including Miami, New York, and Las Vegas. Although it was enjoyable to take a virtual “cruise” through Times Square, finding directions to practical suburban neighborhoods was non-existent. However, with the help of a trusty camera mounted to an automobile, the range of cities increased. In December, other cities such as Minneapolis-St.Paul, Providence, and Boston were added. Now, it is possible to not only “drive” by the Metrodome, but also visit smaller places such as the Edina Country Club.

Using Google Street View is just as easy as it sounds. First, go to www.maps.google.com. A U.S. map will appear with 23 camera icon markers that each represents a major city. Click on the desired location, and then choose the street name being located. A “video” of that street will appear, and to navigate it, use the arrow keys or a mouse to zoom in or move around. Be sure to take note of the background images as well for some entertainment purposes (they usually contain scenic city views or random strangers frozen in the moment).

While there are a few flaws in this website, Google has created an overall successful site. In fact, the creators are hoping to eventually have a Google street view of the entire U.S., parts of Canada, and Australia (footage has already started to be taken). With cities in twenty-one states, and future plans made, Google Street View might just become the new directional aid of the next decade.

by Sarah Koller, staff writer