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View Full Version : Does anyone else use google maps for location research?



wrombola
11-30-2010, 03:59 PM
There is this icon of a man in the upper left hand corner. You can drag him onto the street corner and it gives you still photos of the street scene. You can then move click on the street ahead and virtually walk around most big towns.

Very handy for research.

Chris P
11-30-2010, 04:19 PM
Google Maps and Google Earth are ace. I also like the photos and videos in both applications. I was also able to Youtube some locations. Travelblog.org and TripAdvisor.com are also very handy websites.

Jean
11-30-2010, 05:42 PM
Oh! I've never known that. I have to try.

ChronicSelfEditor
11-30-2010, 05:45 PM
How current are these street scene photos. I guess I always understood them to be a few years old. I know the one for my house is 3-4 years old because of the vehicles sat in front of the house. I don't know how important that would be to anyone but yes it is useful.

Phyllo
11-30-2010, 05:49 PM
I'd noticed that little icon but had no idea you could make him "take a walk". Very cool. Thanks for posting.

karlb
12-12-2010, 08:18 PM
You can also get distances easily using Google maps. Type "from:<location> to:<location>" and Google will work out a route with the distance travelled.

Captcha
12-12-2010, 10:45 PM
I honestly have no idea how anyone wrote anything before Google.

Maybe that's why 'write what you know' used to be such common advice, but has recently dropped out of favour. With all the incarnations of Google - you can know whatever you want!

Marlys
12-12-2010, 10:59 PM
You can also get distances easily using Google maps. Type "from:<location> to:<location>" and Google will work out a route with the distance travelled.

Do it as walking directions and it will even tell you how long it would take to get from point A to point B on foot. Great stuff.

Calla Lily
12-12-2010, 11:43 PM
Constantly. I swear by it.

Maryn
12-12-2010, 11:50 PM
It can be helpful, but I don't rely on it entirely when getting the detail right matters.

Where I live, the street views are about 3 years old. They're older in cities where this launched earlier. (San Jose is at least 5.) Houses seen from the street change fairly slowly, but I could never trust businesses not to change hands or close over a period of years.

I do find street view invaluable for spotting landmarks and such. Where exactly is the hotel in Unfamiliarville? Right here on the map. But where is its driveway? Just past the restaurant with the big yellow sign and past its driveway, but before the hotel. Information like that is really helpful.

Maryn, not happy in strange places (except for AW!)

Drachen Jager
12-13-2010, 12:43 AM
Google stretview is great. Is it up in Germany yet? I know they had some legal issues there.

lulzy
12-13-2010, 04:04 AM
I use it, as well as google earth, mapquest, and photos. But I never knew that it could take a walk, interesting. Will be using it in the future, thanks!

Ferret
12-13-2010, 06:55 AM
For a previous manuscript, I used Google Moon. That was handy.

johnnysannie
12-13-2010, 04:26 PM
How current are these street scene photos. I guess I always understood them to be a few years old. I know the one for my house is 3-4 years old because of the vehicles sat in front of the house. I don't know how important that would be to anyone but yes it is useful.

I don't think some are very current for the same reason - the truck my husband sold three years back is still sitting in front of my house on Google maps.

It's not a bad way to get a feel for the location but I personally prefer to write about locations I have been and know well. That said, I often use Google maps to refresh my memory.

Zelenka
12-13-2010, 04:37 PM
This is my first time writing about a location I don't know that well (not counting fantasy world type things or SF, of course, where it's all imagination anyway), so it's been pretty good for me. Things like, just looking for the right-looking kind of street for a certain character's house to be on, or seeing roughly how long a walk it is from the police station to the metro, something like that. Since it's a couple of months till my research trip when I can go see the actual places, it's a good interim measure.

shadowwalker
12-13-2010, 06:29 PM
I've used it when I wanted to be in a certain area, but couldn't tell from a regular map exactly what the terrain was like. The street view is great because even though satellite might show a forest, street view will show that it's not so much that as just huge trees, and that can make a difference if you're writing a chase/fight scene.

mtrenteseau
12-14-2010, 02:30 AM
I've done my best to actually go to the places mentioned in my books, but I do use Google Streetview to round out descriptions when people are going from one place to another.

My first book has a lengthy scene at the 21 Club (21 W. 52nd Street, New York). I had forgotten something about what the front of the building looked like, and I discovered that all of Midtown Manhattan was on Streetview, except for 52nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue.

In addition to the 21 Club, this stretch includes the headquarters of CBS. It's fixed now, but for many years if you followed the line down the middle of the street from E. 52nd across 5th Avenue, you'd find yourself several blocks away.

anydayshirley
12-14-2010, 06:09 AM
That's what I mainly use. I get a general feel for the place through Google Maps, and make up the details.

Debbie V
12-14-2010, 07:59 PM
I've toured half of LA and gone from Switzerland into France this way. Used close in satelite views for where my character went off road. I'll need a local to read and verify or fill in some details as part of the revision process, but Google rocks.

Elias Graves
12-14-2010, 10:52 PM
Travel forums are handy as well. Folks post their pictures and stories of visiting places. It can give a very personal view of a place.
Not so great for what it's like to live there, but the photographs are terrific. You often find shots of out of the way places.

EG

WriterKos
12-15-2010, 11:56 PM
I always use it...