Walk around the neighborhood
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2018 10:07:51 -0800 (PST)
I was working on a personal website for a Willetta and looking for a better 
picture of a street sign for “W Willetta Street” in Phoenix. I tried Google 
Maps and ended up “walking” around Phoenix for an hour. Then I wondered if I 
could revisit the place where I was born and lived more many years. I spent 
another hour driving around Ponca City, Oklahoma. It was captivating to see the 
same houses and parks and trees from my childhood. Changed but still 
identifiable. And looking at the map view to see that the great expanse of the 
route to grades school was actually only 4 blocks.

I had used Google maps when doing websites for cohousing communities so I could 
describe their location more clearly. But the down the street experience was 

This might be a good exercise for people considering various neighborhoods and 
pieces of land, or communities where you might like to live. There are 
distortions in the spatial relationships — things look larger on film so 
streets look wider. If the camera sits you down in a yard it seems you are 
stuck. Try to get to a street view in order to walk around. Or drive if you 

The cameras are apparently on trucks traveling up and down streets. You can 
move forward and back and make 360 degree turns. The sense of place was 
conveyed clearly in the places I knew so I’m assuming it is elsewhere too. I 
was able to check up on new communities to see if they were built yet — but I 
assume the photos are not terribly new. 

For a while I thought there was a new method of labelling streets — to print 
the names on the pavement the same way crosswalks are painted. After they were 
identical in more than one city in different parts of the country, I realized 
Google had added them. They are very helpful.

The next time you hear about a community or a piece of land take a look.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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