With much of the nation covered, it looks like Google Street View recently made it to Lakeland. Street View uses a special camera rig to take 360-degree photos around a vehicle as it moves through the city. The result is a photographic tour of the city. The images look like this:
The maps are interactive. Press the white arrow to travel down the street. Click and hold the image to twist the view to the buildings right and left from your position. Peek in your neighbor’s windows!
Ok, the last isn’t likely. Google doesn’t use cameras that sharp. The company also uses software to identify and obscure faces. (It even blurred the face of some tram horses in New York City.)
I’ve looked around Lakeland a bit this afternoon trying to get an idea when the images were shot. They must have been recent as I can see my neighbor’s Christmas tree lights. At least in our neighborhood I can say the image was no earlier than two weeks after the presidential election. (My neighbor’s modified “Palin” sign isn’t visible.)
That doesn’t mean a car raced through the city to get the images in a single day. Google obviously didn’t get the city in one fell swoop. You can see the Southside Cleaner sign in the image above. The sign changes if you move up a few feet. Like so:
At this point, Street View doesn’t cover all of Lakeland. It is still a useful tool for those of us pointing out landmarks, or sending directions. We can harken back to the old days:
“You want the Chamber? You just leave Black and Brew and head down Main until you get to the lake. Hang a right. Pass that big old hotel they almost tore down. Keep going past that street they repaved not too long ago. Keep going until you are ready to jump in the lake. Hang a left and it’s right there on the corner behind the big fake swan. You can park by the old newspaper boxes.
Update: A reader checked out his house and said the image was from Christmas season 2007. I didn’t see any street views this summer. One of the Southside signs is recent and many of the images are copyright 2008. Maybe the camera car was here long ago and the images were just added?
Update 2: The Google Street View cam car was spotted in Orlando in July 2008 by Danny Sanchez.
Update 3: From the responses it looks like the street view images started last holiday season. Evidently it takes awhile for them to go online.
Update 3b: Here’s the main Street View page at Google. They list Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando as the available cities in Florida. Orlando was added August 7, 2007. Tampa was online March 27, 2008. I bet they had the cam car go through Lakeland during that time, but didn’t add the images until the big December 9, 2008 update.