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February 15, 2008

Killing Time with Google Earth

Posted: 03:14 PM ET

Just about each day, a portion of my Journalism training is deployed for sitting in meetings. Lots of them. Some of them are conference calls - some vital, and some where you're not quite sure why you're there.

It's in those kinds of calls when I try my best to find something to multi-task on. Often, I end up taking a tour on Google Earth. Some of the thing I find are useful for work. Some aren't.

Let me share a few of the things I've found - productive or otherwise. I've included the latitude and longitude coordinates - click and drag them into your Google Earth template, but be sure to put the "minus" sign in there, or you'll literally be taken to the other side of the world:

51 22 24 -68 41 03 Homer Simpson would love this - a huge lake shaped like a donut. Quebec's Lake Manicouagan is the result of an asteroid impact millions of years ago.

40 16 59 -73 59 19 You'll see your Tax Dollars At Work. The US Army Corps of Engineers has spent billions on seawalls and other ways to artificially preserve coastlines and protect beaches and million-dollar homes. This shot of the Jersey Shore gives you an idea of what a fake beach looks like. Then, about 50 miles to the Northeast.......

40 52 05 -74 14 43 Look closely at this mansion in North Jersey. The long, curving driveway. The white stucco. The kidney-shaped pool in the back. It's Tony Soprano's house.

Remember that this kind of satellite and high-altitude photography hasn't been out there for all that long. If you had these kinds of images in your possession twenty years ago, you would likely either have a high-level security clearance, or you'd be headed to prison.

Maybe even this one: 38 55 22 -77 03 59 It appears to be the only spot on Google Earth that's intentionally blurred out. See if you can figure out what it is. Google Earth has said it's an oversight, soon to be corrected.

- Peter Dykstra, executive producer, Sci-Tech

Filed under: Google Earth

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Richard   February 17th, 2008 5:28 pm ET

That last one you gave has been blurred out on Microsoft's equivalent to Google Maps too – check out this link in the 'Bird's Eye' view.

The Bird's Eye view in Live Maps is a really cool feature missing from Google Earth – you can see loads of locations at 45 degree angles, as well as the traditional 90 degree aerial views.. It works for nearly all major US cities, as well as loads of smaller ones in the U.S. and around the world.

Check it out at


Richard   February 17th, 2008 5:30 pm ET

Hmmm, sorry but the link I gave above doesn't seem to work, Guess you'll just have to try finding it on Live Maps manually.


Bobf   February 17th, 2008 10:24 pm ET

I believe that's One Observatory Circle, the grounds of the Naval Observatory, which is the official residence of the Vice President.

Richard Robinson   February 18th, 2008 7:20 am ET

Speaking of killing, Oklahoma's killing their only chance of having alternative transportation by destroying Union Station for a bigger highway. We wouldn't have to worry about alternative fuels if we had alternative transportation. When gas hits $10 gallon, Oklahomans would have wished they saved Union Station. But Oklahomans are too stupid to save it. They even swallow the hook, line and sinker when ODOT says they're not destroying the station but that's a bold faced lie. They're destroying the WHOLE station MINUS the depot. They're calling the depot a station. How can you pull into a station if there's no tracks? You can't. It's like an airport. Can you have an airport without runways? Of course not.

Richard   February 18th, 2008 2:35 pm ET

Bobf, that's correct. 🙂 I did a bit of research on the web and it's exactly what you said.

Why is this blurred out, but other similar high security locations are not?


Daniel Payne   February 19th, 2008 7:25 pm ET

That blurred location is the U.S. Naval Observatory.

gary   February 19th, 2008 9:39 pm ET

here is a website that runs Google Earth contests

stevedavis78   February 19th, 2008 11:11 pm ET

Looks like it got cut off above, but yes it's the home of the vice president. The entire grounds are closed and it's impossible to see the VP house from anywhere on the circle if you bike by like I often do. There's also a lot of supposedly sensitive things going on in there. If you look closely, actually, the image of the roof of the White House is slightly doctored instead to change the locations of the guard houses and some other details. As I believe some things are changed on the Capitol...

Brianne   February 20th, 2008 4:23 pm ET

Isn't that interesting? A program such as google Earth can show so much such as that? And as for the blurring out, that is rather interesting. If it wasn't for the threat of-threats- would it still be blouted out? Would they trust American's with America's secrets? Or is it for the "Safety" of the People? All so interesting!

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