Earlier this year Mountain View, California-based Google added detailed digitized imagery of one small portion of Duluth, Minnesota -- the city where I live -- to its ongoing Google Maps Street View project, the Internet search giant's ambitious attempt to improve on traditional overhead satellite views by using special cameras mounted on the roof of cars. The result is a slice-in-time effect captured on film as Google employees in the specially equipped cars navigate streets worldwide, bringing Web visitors the most detailed images yet of buildings, traffic, people going about their daily business, and maybe even your house and car.
When Google made its initial Street View run through Duluth only a scant number of scenes from along the city's main thoroughfare, Superior Street, and a handful of other roads, were visited by the scanning car. While this provided curious Duluth residents a digital glimpse into their city on the shore of Lake Superior, the limited coverage left out most of the city and allowed only a very few people to see their homes and favorite local attractions in high resolution zoom-able Street View resolution. All that has now changed.
As of November 2009 Google has vastly expanded its Street View coverage of Duluth and the areas surrounding the city, as you can see by the image shown above featuring Duluth's Old Central High School building.
Since the Street View program began several years ago some citizens, businesses, cities and governments have taken legal action against Google on privacy grounds, and for its part the Web titan has made it easier to request that individual homes or other areas be blurred out.
When I first learned of Google's Street View update for Duluth I searched for my own home, and was able to clearly see my family's pet cat Marley sitting in a window and men working on a neighbor's house. After a bit more time exploring the new Google imagery I spotted my car parked in its usual spot during the work week, and captured a number of other Duluth area Street View scenes I present here. Marley the cat can be seen in the upper leftmost window in the image below.
The mapping of Duluth is not yet complete, and is likely to be continuing at present. While Google did not release any specific dates on which the new Street View images were photographed, clues from some Duluth scenes point to an ongoing project, such as an image of Duluth's recently-completed Skywalk walkway system through the downtown area as it was nearing completion, as shown below.
Recent Duluth dining additions inside the downtown Technology Center building, Kippis Tappas Bar and Takk for Maten Cafe, are also visible in the new Street View update as you can see in the image below or at the live Google Maps link.
One of Duluth's numerous historic parks, Chester Bowl, home of a small downhill ski area, a cross-country ski trail, and several massive ski jumps built early in the twentieth century when the city produced several Olympic jumpers, is among the new area covered by Google Maps Street View, as shown below. The largest of the ski jumps can be seen in the upper left of the image.
Far from the green hills of Duluth's parks are other more mundane buildings, parking lots, and businesses, such as the Kozy Bar in the downtown area, as shown below, complete with a somewhat bewildered man standing on the sidewalk nearby.
For those who may have secretly dreamt of traveling stealthily and risk-free through both the safe and the not-so-safe areas of a city in order to observe daily life, Street View provides a great voyeuristic solution. An image of a man in downtown Duluth dodging traffic on the busy main street was included in the new Google update, as you can see below.
Duluth's public library and Saint Louis County Heritage and Arts Center's Historic Union Depot buildings can be seen in the follow image, along with the city's aerial lift bridge in the upper left.
Two additional Duluth images from Google's Street View update are shown below, the first featuring a number of people going about their business as a police car passes by, and the second showing Duluth's Ragstock clothing store.
Countless other scenes from daily life throughout Duluth and its surrounding area are bound to be found among the new Google Maps Street View imagery. If you live in Duluth, have lived there in the past, or know somebody who lives there, you're likely to enjoy exploring this new information.