Google streetview goes to Wisconsin


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Google's GPS equipped cars visited Southeastern Wisconsin last summer, during some of the best weather Wisconsin has to offer. They visited my home town during one of the brightest days. It's amazing how thoroughly they've covered southeastern Wisconsin, practically every road and even the blue sky above in photos that are much sharper than those I've seen taken nearer to Google's California headquarters.

It's strange to be sitting over 3000 miles away and see neighborhoods I never visited while growing up there. I understand the privacy concerns. When virtually touring narrow streets in Racine such as Gideon Ct., you almost expect people to come out and yell at you for stepping on their flowerbeds. It is useful to see a destination before driving there for the first time and it's nice to be able to show friends the house I grew up in and also the brick houses overlooking Lake Michigan that my Pomeranian ancestors built when they emigrated to the U.S. in the mid 19th century.

I wonder if the fact that thousands of sub $200k houses are unsold in decent neighborhoods throughout the midwest might bring back a sense of reality to real-estate markets which seem to have lost the plot for a while. Compare the zillow.com price estimates for victorian houses on College Avenue, or anything near Racine's zoo or Wind point... to almost anything in Las Vegas or California and you'll wonder whether someone has their decimal point in the wrong place. But then Google might contribute to the problem of wealthy remote holiday homeowners driving local prices beyond the reach of police, firemen, teachers...

Taxes, lack of good jobs and weather are the three biggest problems with living in the "rust belt." Those of us from the upper midwest should thank Google for showing our part of the world in a good light.

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