Google Maps ~ 3D Research Trips

I drove from Dorchester, Massachusetts to Studio City, California this morning.  No, I didn’t pay any attention to speed limits along the way and Yes, I did get up and leave my seat for a few minutes.

How so you ask?   I asked Google Maps for the route between the two cities and then clicked on a rarely noticed little button just below the Suggested Routes. 

Few folks click on the “3D” icon   Few folks have enjoyed the sudden shift to Google Earth and watch their red bubble icon suddenly start off on its journey on the Blue Road with the horizon clearly visible near the top of the screen.

You have to see the presentation to appreciate what I’m describing.  I find the 3D visualization to be very useful. 

When I’m driving to find old family homesteads, cemeteries, resource libraries and to other destination locations, The 3D visualization is extremely useful to me.  I’ve always loved maps and have always visualized my location on the earth as an elevated 3D image.  Now, the Google Maps 3D presentation augments the thought cycles I use when looking at a map, but now rather than the image being just the colors on a hard copy map, I have an actual photo of the earth surface in the scenes.

This is good stuff.  I live in the West.  We have big skies, open vistas and mountains for reference.   If you wonder where you are at when you bog down on a surface street, you can usually glance off to the horizon and see a mountain range, or other reference.  With that reference, you quickly orient your mind-map and adjust your route accordingly.

When I first visited New England on a genealogy trip, the sky was covered with low storm clouds for four consecutive days.  I couldn’t find any reference points on the horizon  When I asked native Bostonians “Which Way Is North?”  None of them knew.  They couldn’t imagine why I wanted to know.  Their references were always surface structures. 

I was blinded. 

How do they survive living and moving about in a ‘a “2D” world?   They laughed at the look on my face, but when they visit here, I laugh a the look on their faces when they can see for hundreds of miles or even for just a few miles between the mountain ridges.  “Oh, and by the way, see that mountain range?  Follow the ridgeline with your eyes.  That way is NORTH.”

A trip between cemeteries in Salisbury, Massachusetts is simple now.  Nor more wandering around.  No more Roundabouts slinging me off in the wrong direction.  I’ve seen the route, even to the little hidden ‘”pocket cemeteries”. 

The curvature of the earth is more pronounced than we realize from a ground perspective on our cross country trips, but it is evident and we can even see why they routed the road with that funny “jink”   Road time is so much more interesting now.


Try it for yourself.  See if the 3D route map helps in your next trip or genealogy quest.

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2011-10-18 14:34:00
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About lineagekeeper

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.