Dolores, shocked to see her own home while searching Google street views shares her humorous perspective on this helpful yet invasive site.
You can Google your house and see your home at street level online for free, along with your neighbor’s house and the rest of your street. Why stop there? Check out your co-workers' addresses and see if they live in an undesirable area or if they mow the lawn.
Google Maps displays your house and front yard. It's a handy web-mapping service application for home buyers, or you can use it to help locate that party you’re invited to at a home in an unfamiliar neighborhood. The photographs cover streets far and wide, though some addresses you search for may still be unavailable.
Unlike former satellite photos that presented an obviously aerial view, this application enables you to locate an address and see the house at street level. You can manipulate the view to include neighboring houses and sneak a peek up and down the street. You can even glance up in the treetops, should the house in question be located on a sycamore-lined avenue.
Take a Look at (Almost) Any Home in America
To view your house, or anybody else’s, follow these simple directions:
- Open Google Maps. There's a shortcut to it in Chrome, or you can just search for it.
- Find your map by typing the complete address in the "Search Google Maps" box.
- A photo of the house will appear in the upper left. Click on the photo.
- Now you're in Street View. Use the compass to rotate your view and look around. A white arrow icon will appear underneath your cursor, letting you scroll up or down the street as well.
What If You Don't Know the Address?
- Alternately, you can find the section of the country you want to explore by clicking the buttons to zoom in and out, which are located at the bottom right of the screen.
- Then, double-click the little hand to zero in on your intended locale until you reach the street you want.
- Once you see your street in text, you’ll notice an address (this is convenient for searching for a house you don’t know the address of but just want to be nosey).
- Type the address into the search box or double-click on the house on the map to open the photo that leads to Street View.
Other Handy Uses for This Tool: Locating a New Home
This free web-mapping service application might come in handy if you are relocating and searching for a home in an unfamiliar area. Real estate ads feature attractive photographs of a house for sale. Even a dump in a lousy neighborhood manages to look cute in a real estate ad.
Once you locate a desirable home, you can check out the neighborhood. Who wants to buy the finest home in a crummy neighborhood on a rubble-strewn street where people keep sofas on the porch or past-their-prime cars on cement blocks in the front yard?
Scope Out a Location Before You Go
If you’ve been invited to a party at the home of a co-worker or wish to visit your cousin’s new digs in an unknown area, Google Maps makes it easy to locate. This is so much better than crawling down the street at 5 miles per hour, aggravating the parade of surly roughnecks tailgating your car.
What a Dump
Google Street View depicts your home and neighborhood to any mook who decides to check out your area. Robbers can case the joint quickly and get a feel for the area.
In case of my own home, I was relieved. No self-respecting thief would waste his time. Google Maps presented my street on a dark and cloudy winter afternoon. Late shed oak leaves piled up in the gutter. Leafless trees looked dead. My son’s friend’s car, a beater, sat out front in all its decrepitude. The lawn looked raggedy, and the dingy lighting cast a gloomy pallor on the whole street. In short, it looked like a slum. The only way it could have looked worse would be if one of the houses just burned down and lay in a scorched pile of charcoal under a miasma of smoke.
If I was searching to relocate and Googled my actual home (which is kind of cute), I’d veer away like a hog being herded toward the slaughterhouse.
Just for kicks, I searched for my street address in another city (they list several of the same street address throughout the country) and noticed that the identical address in Schenectady looks an awful lot like mine!
Echoes of 1984
Back when satellite home photos were all the rage, it seemed intrusive. The ability of any stranger to zero in on my back yard made me nervous. It was creepy. But, at least the yard looked pretty, lots of vivid green, mature trees and a nice layout, no junk lying around, no cast-off beer bottles letting the world know we drink cheap, unfashionable beer. I even experienced a jolt of perverse pleasure when I Googled my friend's back yard depicted during a late summer drought.
This new technology that displayed my home for all the world to see on a day that was so overcast it looked like a black and white picture or a photo taken shortly after an ash storm at the edge of a dirty bomb detonation seemed intrusive, insulting and depressing. It’s 1984 meets Escape From New York.
What’s next, for crying out loud, Google my dresser drawers? Google my medicine cabinet? Google my basement? At least they couldn’t make that look worse than it actually is.
Some of the house views contain photographs or people. Google has attempted to blur these images, but some folks are not happy to be so publicly displayed despite the blurring or feel the blurring is not adequate. Due to these privacy concerns and complaints, Google now offers technology to remove your face or your children's faces from the site.
The Other End of the Street
But wait! I decided to take a look at the other end of the street. My street, the shabby, drab avenue lined with dead leaves and gray lawns. When I moved the cursor to view the other houses in the other direction, suddenly, it was late spring! The houses looked pretty and the grass was green. Lush azaleas bloomed in great swaths of brilliant color. What a beautiful place to live!
Google sends a crazy looking vehicle around neighborhoods with a big gizmo on top that swivels to take photographs. Apparently, they drove in one direction in late winter, the other direction in just about the prettiest time of year. I began to feel paranoid. Did Google have it in for me? Why did my part of the street look like a slum, the other like a nice middle class neighborhood, a place where anyone would be proud to live? My part of the street looked like there were thugs lurking in the shrubbery and rats scuttling down the gutter, wending their way through the debris.
This Will Fix Everything!
Seeing my house on Google like that, looking so shabby and pathetic, I stopped and took a good, long look at the place. My husband and I stood across the street and were actually appalled. Sheesh! I thought it looked bad on the Google Street View. Well, my neighbor's view was even worse.
So, we decided to paint and add a few decorative touches. We dragged up several volunteers, (our sons) and spent a couple weeks hard at work. Doing it ourselves kept the refurbishing costs down, but the effort really paid off. Not only is our home now beautiful, but nobody will recognise it on Google. They'll drive right on by.
And Now for the Happy Ending
Amazingly, I just reGoogled the street view of my house. Lo and behold, the hideous former picture is gone, replaced by the current attractive, freshly painted house. The new photo was captured on a lovely day featuring blue sky, green grass, and lots of foliage on the trees. I am happy.
Or am I? What made our friends at Google retake the shot? As grateful as I am to Google for the improvement, why would they return to the scene for a retake? Did neighbors or local real estate agents file a complaint? Did Google read this popular article and trace it home to the real me, the real home? Is that something that should gratify me or make me more paranoid than ever?
It's sort of like being a kid with Google as Daddy. Google Daddy somehow knows all and sees all, and through secretive deduction, manages to make me happy. And even when Google Daddy makes me happy, I somehow manage to lower my brow in suspicion, to question the satisfactory outcome.
And as I plunge further into the matter, with new results, all while reminding myself not to be a brat, I realize that I must say, with all cheer—thank you, Google!
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I get a license plate number of a car parked in front of my house?
Answer: Sure, you could use binoculars or go outside and take a look at it. If you mean from Google Street view, licence plates can be seen but usually look blurred. I took a look at some street scenes and could not make out any information. Google claims to have technology in place that blurs images like licence plates and faces If you spot any actual numbers you can report it to them using the Report a Problem tool.