Thursday, February 21, 2008

Google's Street View: A Very Strange Trip

Any frequent reader of this blog or listener of my show knows that I am from the Detroit, Michigan area. The suburb of Ferndale, to be precise. Growing up there, I had a relatively happy childhood and loved my neighborhood in particular. I have told my kids more than a few stories of my old home town.

The last time I visited was 1981 after living in Texas for around five years. My brother was there at the time and I thought it would be fun to visit. He was planning on coming back to Texas with me so I spent a few weeks catching up with old friends and visiting some of the sites and sounds that made Michigan home. I really thought I would visit again, but that has yet to materialize.

A few years ago Google Maps came on the scene with its nifty satellite and I finally got to see the old neighborhood. Sure, it was just the roof tops and really rough side views, but I got a sense of what it looked like. Then we got Streetview. I noticed it was only at a few locations at first -- none near the Detroit area -- but in no time it all it was in Pleasant Ridge, about a half a mile from where I grew up, and this week, it is along Hilton and zipped right down Goodrich, where I grew up. I saw the church at the end of the street that I went to, the tree I ran into playing football, and all the homes of my friends I grew up with.

It was interesting and, oddly, largely took away my desire to visit. I don't know if that was an intended result, but the travel industry may never be the same. I tell you something else it may have shot -- new websites designed to connect people to their old home towns. At least any such sites that would charge money.

However, Streetview is still cool and I'll keep watching for its expansion. I'm looking forward to seeing the park that I grew up (and often fell down) in.

Click the Google Map image above and you will find the map and a little guy standing on my street. Click Streetview, and then the little guy and you will see where I grew up. If you care. I liked it any way. You might like to go from there to some great places you want to remember.
Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at HoustonBusinessShow.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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Anonymous Windy of Texas said...

You actually had humble beginnings. I'm going to visit my home town.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Mick Rule said...

Great post. I liked your question about the impact such a thing has on future innovation. Kind of makes you wonder.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Michigan too and moved to Texas. In fact, I didn't live that far from you.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Danny in Georgia said...

I use to live in Ferndale too and looked up Google Streetview, Ferndale in Google and it was the first article. It was ironic because I lived in your area, very close in fact. Cool blog, great information.

9:45 PM  

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