Google Street View has a weird side. Here’s how to find it
Once upon a time, in Ontario, a man was searching in the back seat of a white car. I don’t know what he was looking for. But, one day, he would become known as Tripod Man.
Tripod Man earned his nickname not because of his photography skills, but because someone at Google stitched together images of him in such a way that he ended up with three legs. Then they published it on the Internet.
It’s the chaos of Google Street View.
For Google engineers, the goal of Street View is clear. Drive, bike, walk and navigate around the world with a camera, take photos of everything along the way and put them together to create a 360 degree view of various places that we can enjoy on the Internet. Camels on the way? No matter. Slides are the only way to get around? Someone enters. Panoramic images don’t line up perfectly? Tripod man.
There’s even a 360 of the International Space Station on “Street” View – on this corner of the internet, the sky is, in fact, not the limit. And now Neal Agarwal, a developer better known by his online persona neal.fun, has taken the messy beauty of Google Street View and turned it into a clever online program that can take hours of your time.
It’s called the wonders of Street View, and with the click of a button, this site will take you to hundreds of accidentally scary, spectacular, artistic, weird, and mind-blowing by-products of Google’s revolutionary mapping system. Arguably the best parts.
“I spent a few weeks compiling a list of weird and interesting places from articles and lists, then tried to find them on Google Street View,” Agarwal told me. “Other people have also shared weird places and anomalies they’ve found on Street View over the years, so I’ve tried to find those and include them as well. I think I’ve spent dozens of hours on Street View over the past month.”
I mean, while leafing through, I managed to spot an abandoned mining town in Montana that seriously resembles one of the towns in Red Dead Redemption II. In Kenya, I saw an adorable crew of elephants taking shade under a tree as Google’s Street View camera passed by.
Sliding your view down into the sandy dunes of Abu Dhabi will show you that the tech giant was so dedicated to the bit that it installed cameras on the back of a camel to capture all the glory of the Arab Emirates United. In Finland, there seems to be a field of colorfully dressed scarecrows worthy of both a Disney movie and a nightmare.
It’s both rewarding and relaxing to keep clicking through Agarwal’s collection of Google Street View Hall of Famers.
“I think Street View represents our dream of wanting to travel the world from the comfort of our home,” Agarwal said. “I remember spending hours on Street View when I was a teenager, exploring different countries and learning so much. world.”
If you’re unfamiliar with StumbleUpon, several years ago it was considered a cure for boredom. All you had to do was go to the StumbleUpon website, click a button, and a cool corner of the internet would appear on your screen. There were unique games, research items, and random sites that changed color when you pressed different arrow keys. It was exactly the kind of place programs like Agarwal’s—including this asteroid launch simulator—could stumble upon.
As of now, Agarwal said Wonders of Street View has around 300 locations to browse. “The site incorporates views from Google Maps,” he said. “I really want to keep adding more street views! If anyone finds something cool about the street view, please send it to me.”
When asked about his favorite location at the moment, Agarwal said that while the most breathtaking view is from the ISS, his number one is what’s called the Instant Ramen tunnel at the cup museum and noodles in Japan.
“A close second,” Agarwal said, “would be Tripod Man.”