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.
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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
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.
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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
SOURCE: 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.
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.