10 Urban Snaphots: Google Street View Pictures Freeze Time
Article by Urbanist, filed under Photography & Video in the Art category.

Google Street View has changed the way that people interact with online maps as well as real cities. Controversial and illicit images as well as strange photographic glitches have only heightened the public’s fascination with this interactive panoramic mapping system. The now-infamous Google Street View van has captured embarrassing moments, created accidental celebrities and documented interesting urban changes over time. The following images illustrate this variety.

Google Street View Stalkers and Oglers



Lurkers and Gawkers: Google Street View has become notorious for showing people at moments they might rather not have preserved online. The two men above are at least fortunate enough not to be showing their face to the camera. Another individual caught in a compromising situation was not so lucky.

People Who See the Google Van

Accidental Celebrities: Some Google Street View pictures show individuals who are apparently aware of (or who even pose for) the Street View camera van. Many images, such as those above, have been widely circulated on the internet – making their subjects into a form of impromptu or accidental celebrity.

Fact and Fiction on Google Street View

Controversial Images: A lot of the more popular Google Street View images in public circulation involve celebrities, from ‘real life’ or from their actions caught on camera. However, while it is apparently true that a knife-sharpening van was photographed outside of OJ Simpson’s house, the individual show in the lower image (despite popular rumors) was simply fixing his bicycle.

Google Van Runs Over Road Blocks

Mysterious Street View Van: While it is not provable either way, the above image seems to suggest that the Street View van may have callously knocked over a few flimsy roadblocks. Perhaps they were worried about disrupting the images they were capturing? The Street View van itself has been caught on film a few times.

Before and After

Changes Over Time: One of the interesting aspects of Google Street View is the impressive way in which it documents cities in time, and their changes over time. The above set of images shows a building under construction, but if a user shifts perspective in Street View the picture shows the finished renovation.

Google Street View Demo

More Google Street View Images: The number of popular images has grown steadily as Google Street View has spread from cities like San Francisco and New York City to Los Angeles and Houston. A number of sites feature additional Google Street View pictures, including Wired: Threat Level and StreetViewFun. More strange splicings and as well as sexy and illicit images can also be found in our archives.

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