Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Google Views Ancestry & FamilySearch Streets

Google announced today that Salt Lake City along with 8 other areas has been added to Google Map's Street View, which displays street level photographs of supported cities. While Salt Lake City is mentioned in particular, coverage extends up and down the Wasatch front, including offices of both Ancestry and FamilySearch. The blue area in the map below shows where Street View is supported.

Blue shows Street View coverage along the Wasatch Front
Blue shows Street View coverage along the Wasatch Front

The offices of both Ancestry and FamilySearch are included in Street Views. Here is a view of The Generations Network (TGN), parent company of Ancestry.com. You can see the sign out front with the company name. Zoom in to get a better view... Wait a minute. When I zoom in, the "Generations Network" logo is replaced with "Google." What does that mean? You can click the arrows going North to see the seedy side of Ancestry.

Google's name over the top of TGN logo
Google's name over the top of TGN logo

Click this link to see the offices of FamilySearch and parent, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe FamilySearch has some offices in the Joseph Smith Memorial building (the white building on the left with the small dome—a beehive—on the left) and some offices in the Church Office Building (the tower on the right). In between you can see the Salt Lake Temple. Try moving completely around this block. See if you can find the Family History Library. It is directly West of your starting point.

Privacy concerns follow Google Street View where ever it shows up. One TGN employee found photos of his wife and child in front of their house. When Google launched Street View last year an editorial in the Salt Lake City Deseret News said,

George Orwell got a lot of things right about the future in his novel "1984." The thing he missed, however, is that wholesale intrusions today come from [the Internet], not his fictional government-imposed "big brother."

Should you come across a photo that you believe invades your privacy or is otherwise inappropriate, click the "Street View Help" link above the image and in the resulting popup window, click the "Report inappropriate image" link at the bottom.

The Google Car

Click to enlarge on flickr
Car with camera,
© All rights reserved

Perhaps you saw Google's specially equipped vehicles driving around taking these pictures. An alert iPhone owner snapped the shot to the right as the car approached Salt Lake back in September 2007. Click on the thumbnail to the right, as well as this gallery of Google Cars and this link.

Here are some more views from our neighborhood for you to explore:

  • A southern view of TGN.
  • Slightly different closeup of the TGN sign.
  • The "seedy field" behind TGN.
  • This view shows the Salt Lake Temple on the left and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (JSMB) on the right. A statue of Brigham Young stands between them.
  • Try moving a little South; the view looks like this.
  • Or go East in front of the JSMB to see the chandeliers through the windows.
  • The JSMB used to be the Hotel Utah, so it has a grand exterior.
  • The Family History Library. Let me know if you are one of the people or know one of the people standing out front.
  • An interesting juxtaposition of horse-drawn carriage and limousine in front of the Church Office Building. See how close you can get to the limousine.
  • Mt. Timpanogos from the Squaw Peak road. You can almost spit on our offices at TGN from this spot.
  • Further down the road you can see Mt. "Timp" on the right and Utah Lake on the left.
  • Bridal Veil Falls, up Provo Canyon, is much prettier than this photograph can show.
  • Entrance to Robert Redford's Sundance Resort. Drive past the couple on the road and take a look at the lady's hiking shoes. Continue up the road and look off to the left to see the buildings and parking lot of the resort with Mt. Timpanogos towering above. Google missed the gorgeous fall colors along this road by just a couple weeks.
  • Here are some hikers googling at the odd, camera-bearing vehicle. At least they have sensible shoes.
  • In the early '60s our station wagon bearly made it pulling our trailer to Timp Lodge for a family reunion. Grandpa wore a wig and played the fiddle. I hoped I was adopted.
  • At the trail head to Stewart Falls, the Google driver stops to google a young hiker paying her forest service use fee. She's not really going to hike to the falls in those sandals, is she?
  • A multi-car accident in Phoenix.
  • Move past this fender bender to see behind the car.
  • Here is where one of my ancestors lived in 1850. (BTW, if you know who I am, please keep it to yourself. There are those who have and are determining my identity through the various clues dropped over time. Send me an email to my non-Ancestry Insider email address explaining how you determined my identity and I'm happy to confirm your deduction. Asking an employee of Ancestry or FamilySearch is cheating, since I've been open with these two organizations. Once you've determined my identity, please do not disclose it to others!)

Paula Stuart-Warren explored the genealogical uses of Google Street View in a recent article on Ancestry's 24/7 Family History Circle.

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