Would You Believe?

On March 18, 2012 · 7 Comments

Have you ever dropped into Google Street View and found terrain that just didn’t "look right," that differed from your expectations? I think we all have stereotypical preconceptions of how a place is supposed to appear, especially if we’ve never fully explore the area in person. Below is the image that surprised me a few days ago. See if you can guess the location. I guarantee you’re very familiar with its name. One could always hover a cursor over the image and reveal the answer instantaneously, but why spoil the fun? Scroll down when you’re ready for the answer.

View Larger Map

It’s Los Angeles, California. I’ll confess I cheated just a little bit. It’s the county of Los Angeles (map) as oppose to the City of Los Angeles (map) which is also part of the county. Still, a resident of this desert patch in the farthest reaches of northeastern Los Angeles County could say with a half-straight face that she lives in Los Angeles. Those not familiar with the area tend to forget just how far it sprawls, and that it’s not solely oceanfront, palm trees, traffic jams and endless subdivisions. Nearly ten million people live in Los Angeles County, but not in this corner.

Ready from another one? I’ll follow a similar pattern. I’ll post the image first and the answer below it. Scroll past the image when you’re ready and see if your mind took you in the proper direction. Remember, it’s not as it seems. The immediate answer will always be incorrect although other subtle clues may reveal it.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty at New York - New York Hotel and Casino
SOURCE: Flickr via Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

I’ll start with an easy one. Let’s begin with the premise that it’s not the real Statue of Liberty. How many fake Statues of Liberty could there be? More than I imagined, actually. I had to use a Flickr photograph instead of Street View because it would have become too obvious (see what I mean?). This version is a half-scale replica standing in front of the New York – New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The U.S. Postal Service admitted that it printed three billion postage stamps with the image of the wrong Statue of Liberty in 2011, the one in Las Vegas instead of the actual Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. An eagle-eyed stamp collector noticed certain differences in facial features and hair style. Linn’s Stamp News broke the story and it spread to the mainstream news media. The New York Times reported,

You might think that the post office would have just gone with the original, the one off the tip of Lower Manhattan that for 125 years has welcomed millions of New York’s huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Instead, they accidentally used the 14-year-old statue that presides over thousands of weary gamblers a week.

Context, of course, makes all of the difference. Only an expert can tell the difference when pertinent visual clues have been removed.

A Day in the Park

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What could be nicer than a day in the countryside on a lovely green lawn? Would you believe a lovely lawn in the middle of the inhospitable Australian Outback? One generally considers the Outback to practically define rugged, remote and dry. Nonetheless thirty-thousand people live Alice Springs in the Northern Territory deep within that expanse. They certainly deserve to have an attractive facility like the Jim McConville Oval where they can play "softball, junior baseball, slo-pitch, cricket, football" and the like. It’s odd to see a patch of sod in the desert, and in fact, swing the street view image around and notice how dry it appears elsewhere.

Chinese Arch

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You’ve probably got the hang of this game now. It’s not China and I’d venture that many of you already concluded that it must be Chinatown. But which one? This one happens to be in Mexico City, which I did not realize had a Chinatown until I wrote this. The arch can be found near Barrio Chino which is centered nearby along Dolores Street. Many Chinese immigrants came to Mexico at the turn of the last century for many of the reasons they also came to the United States: as an abundant labor supply, particularly for railroad construction. The Chinese community has largely assimilated into the larger Mexican population and Chinatown today has been reduced to a couple of blocks.

English Town Square

Shanghai - Thames Town
Flickr via Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license.

I desperately wanted Google Street View imagery for this location so I could wander through it vicariously but Google doesn’t provide that type of coverage in this country yet (hint). Welcome to Thames Town, not somewhere in England but an area of Songjiang Town near Shanghai, China. That’s nowhere near its namesake but right along the Yangtze River instead. This is a 21st Century housing development built intentionally in an English architectural style. They even have a website which is almost legible when run through translation software.

The Guardian featured Thames Town in an article prior to its construction,

With a fake turreted castle and at least one windmill, there is a danger that the site in Songjiang could turn into a British Disneyland that might serve as a monument to the excesses of Shanghai’s overheated property market. But the architects say they are designing a working community.

That ideal does appear to have been delivered judging by photographs available through the Intertubes.

Classic Mosque

Größere Kartenansicht

Where could this be? It’s very clearly a mosque with minarets but it’s not located anywhere near the Middle East. This is the Berlin Mosque (Die Moschee, Berlin), the oldest mosque in Germany and dates to the late 1920’s. It was damaged but not completely destroyed during World War II and renovations are still underway even today.

I’m sure the 12MC audience can find other unusual juxtapositions like the ones I’ve highlighted. Please feel free to post them along with a map links in the comments.

On March 18, 2012 · 7 Comments

7 Responses to “Would You Believe?”

  1. Peter says:

    A hint that the English Town Square is not actually English is that unless the street is one-way, the position of the parked cars shows that vehicles drive on the right.

  2. Pete says:

    My first thought upon seeing the English town image was of the English Village in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

    View Larger Map

    The above image is from the London Bridge, which was relocated from the Thames River to the Colorado River after Lake Havasu City’s founder bid over two million dollars for it. Most likely, that’s the only big reason for an English Village there in Arizona.

  3. Kevin says:

    ha! I had a hunch that may have been Lancaster or Palmdale CA. I do a lot of work in the Antelope Valley. Coming from a small town in New England the concept of literally “open space” to expand was completely foreign to me. I feel like they could have done better or been more creative with the street names there though, sort of a waste.

  4. Phil Sites says:

    I usually like to sample a few street views before a road trip to get a sense of what to expect en route. The Los Angeles street view here reminds me of seeing similar desolate desert country side in plotting my drive through parts of Texas and New Mexico. Nothing is more anticlimactic when trip planning than seeing that on your street view…

    Though part of me thinks that it wouldn’t be have bad to be living in that part of Los Angeles if I HAD to live in Los Angeles 😉

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