Posts Tagged ‘picture stories’

Picture Stories from Earth: It’s nice, but is it Basingstoke?

December 26, 2016

Over on Vintage Everyday, there’s a very nice shot of a couple driving along a rural road in England, circa 1910. The make of motor car is not specified (it should be easy to identify: short, curved bonnet with no logo, headlamps and side lamps, horizontal grille). The location is identified as Tunworth Road, Basingstoke, but there’s a problem. That overpass.

Is it really Tunworth Road?

Is it really Tunworth Road?

Tunworth Road is even now a narrow, sometimes twisty, but always picturesque lane-and-a-half that runs from just north of Mapledurwell, past Tunworth, to the vicinity of Upton Grey, in the semi-developed countryside southeast of Basingstoke.

Some parts aren't this wide

Some parts aren’t this wide

The homes are old and expensive, or new — and expensive. One chart says “manor homes” are running at about three times the UK average, almost ¬£900,000.

To the manor born

To the manor born

The problem is, I have “driven” along it, via Google Maps, and there’s no sign of that overpass in the background. Given the date and the construction material, it’s probably a railroad overpass.

Google Maps today shows no major roads or railroads crossing Tunworth

Google Maps today shows no major roads or railroads crossing Tunworth

But what about the past, you ask? The photo was taken in the past, so maybe there’s some pastness going on here. Sorry,

Ordnance Survey map of 1893 shows no railroad

Ordnance Survey map of 1895 shows no railroad

Even 120 years ago, there was nothing like a railroad in the region southeast of Basingstoke. And the railroads that do show on the map, north of the northern end of Tunworth Road, are all dual track, with thick overpasses. The one in the picture is a narrow structure. There is, at the north end of the road, just beyond Maplederwell and just before it dead-ends into the modern M3 motorway, a trace of a waterway, but all the roads shown cross over the waterway, not under.

Finally, examination of the latest imagery shows no ground trace of a railroad in the vicinity.

No sign of it in overhead, either.

No sign of it in overhead, either.

Conclusion? Maybe the maps don’t show all of Tunworth Road. Maybe it makes a break at the north or south end, and picks up again later on. But the north end of the road dead-ended against the London road long before the M3 arrived, and the south end of the road would more likely be called the Upton Grey Road at that point, or maybe Lee Hill Road. On the other hand, maybe the location of the photo is wrong (except there’s an old postcard that shows what might be the same overpass and is hand annotated Tunworth Road).

I guess I’ll have to schedule a trip to England next summer, and investigate the situation on the ground.

Picture Stories from Earth: Even Life Magazine Gets It Wrong

May 20, 2014

Here’s a picture from Vintage Everyday, a fun website for old photos. It’s originally from a 1948 edition of Life magazine, and purportedly shows Broadway, the main East-West street in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Yes, those are cowboys, but is this really Broadway?

Yes, those are cowboys, but is this really Broadway?

The trouble is, as this shot from Google Maps shows, there’s no rounded hill to the left of Broadway in Jackson Hole. The view is to the north.

The hills haven't moved

The hills haven’t moved

Instead, it looks like we’re on Cache Street, around the intersection with Mercell Avenue, somewhere near the ‘A’ in Cache on the overhead picture.

Cache, not Broadway

Cache, not Broadway

Of course, I could be wrong. I can’t find that Texaco station anywhere.

Picture Stories From Earth: The Pentagon

March 18, 2014

Here’s a nice overhead shot of The Pentagon that popped up this week on imagery site Daily Overview (click this link for a bigger version):

The Pentagon

I worked there for almost a decade, and enjoyed every minute of it. This view shows that it’s really just one, three-mile-long single-corridor building, folded in on itself like a big concrete five-ring protein. Make it five stories high, with two basements (and a mezzanine basement), and you have over 17 miles of corridor, any part of which is accessible from any other part in about ten minutes of brisk walking.

The rings are lettered A-E from the inside out. I worked on the first floor of D-ring, just inside upper right hand face of the pentagon shape. Daytimes, I’d ride the bus, and come in through the entrance on the lower right side. Night shifts would see me out in the wilds of North Parking, walking through the dark and cold (or dark and mosquitos) the half-mile to an obscure entrance just off the left hand side of the apex of the pentagon.

The 9/11 airliner hit the lower left side, next to the modernistic parking lot. The repairs were so good, you can’t tell from the rooflines where it was.

The inner park area is planted with grass and sixty-year-old trees, and is a very pleasant spot to take a break and sit on one of the benches. It’s called ground zero, because we figured that’s where the first Soviet warhead would hit. And the little pentagon-shaped building inside the pentagon-shaped park inside The Pentagon? The one at the exact center of ground zero? ¬†That’s a hamburger stand.

I understand it's been replaced with something more modern

I understand it’s been replaced with something more modern

Picture Stories From Earth: Drone Home

June 20, 2012

My interest was piqued by this article on drone bases in the US. Formerly called UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicles) by the military, they are now known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) — less sexist, and likely a better fit for the bureaucracy because they now fit a known pigeonhole.

In particular, the map shows a SOCOM ScanEagle operation at Arlington, Oregon. I’ve driven through there on my way to Portland. It says “Welcome to Arlington” on both sides of the sign. It hosts a grain-loading facility on the Columbia River, plus some stores that, as someone once said, sell gas and snacks to truckers who stop to deliver gass and snacks. The cost of building the highway exit from Interstate 84 was probably higher than the value of the town. What possible thing could SOCOM be doing there?

Quick, to the imagery bank! (more…)

Picture Stories from Earth: Bid Kaneh

December 2, 2011

The world, or at least, the US part of it, has become more concerned with the progress of the Iranian nuclear program. The most recent IAEA report saying that Iran is close to a breakout capability. That is, they are near the point at which they have everything they need, and they need only make the final decision to have a bomb

Political and economic actions having seemingly failed, the US, and possibly its allies, like Israel, have started to use more active measures. Some of these are quiet cyber-attacks (like last year’s stuxnet worm), some are more direct wet work (the probable assasination of several key Iranian scientists), and some appear to be straightforward sabotage, like this weeks destruction of an Iranian missile facility near Bid Kaneh by the explosion of one of the missiles. The facility is reportedly associated with the Shihab-3 MRBM, which is an Iranian copy of the North Korean No-Dong missile, which can trace its roots back to the Soviet Scud-B, and ultimately to the V-2.

The facility itself appears to be a typical high security research installation, not an operational military base. It was first identifiable on Google Earth imagery of 2003, and remained essentially unchanged until the spring of 2010.

Bid Kaneh in 2003


Picture Stories from Earth: Seawater Farms

August 8, 2011

In 1999, the Seawater Foundation, under the direction of Carl Hodges, started a project called SeaFarms-Eritrea, designed to demonstrate multi-crop sea farming at a coastal site just north of Massawa (vicinity 15.66N/39.46E), just north of the Gurgusum Beach Resort (the best way to find it on Google Earth). The idea was to grow shrimp and tilapia in sea water, and feed the effluents to mangrove wetlands, as well as to a salt-loving plant called salicornia, which in turn would be either fed to flocks, or turned into biofuel.

Salcornia Fields


Picture Stories from Earth: Tsunami Destruction

July 18, 2011

This one’s not as much fun as the first Picture Story from Earth. Google updates its imagery as new sources become available, and it runs its street view vehicles when and as it can. The street view is rarely the same day as the overhead.

In Japan, Google ran its street view cars through parts of the area destroyed by the tsunami, but not all of them. In some cases, you can look at the current overhead, and then at the same view from street level, pre-tsunami. It makes the tragedy more personal. The two photos below are from Ishinomaki, one of the harder-hit cities.

First, we have the street view, taken just after the camera car has turned a corner.

Ishinomaki Before the Tsunami.

The car is parked next to a building with a blue roof (out of the frame on the right), and the second building on the left has a false front on the roof.

Here is the same location, post-tsunami. You can see the two buildings on the left but most of the rest have been destroyed. The location is 38d 25m 09.46s N / 141d 19m 16.88s E

Ishinomaki After the Tsunami.

Of course, through the History feature, you can toggle the overhead to before and after the tsunami, but, to me, the ground view is more immediate.

12 August UPDATE:
Culture Japan has a much better set of image pairs.

Picture Stories from Earth: Tinker AWACS

July 2, 2011

Google Earth is a bigger time sink than With their ‘street view’ function, you can be a virtual tourist almost anywhere in the world. People tend to think of GE as a collection of satellite photos, but that’s not totally true. Sure, central Siberia is likely to be old LandSat imagery, but more civilized places have plenty of ‘air breather’ imagery, from mapping companies and the like.

Today, BoingBoing pointed out a shot of Tinker AFB, OK, that shows an E-3A AWACS taking off. The mapping plane that captured the event was evidently flying in the same direction as the runway (170 degrees, according to the markings, almost straight south), and the frame timer was working fast enough to capture a number of shots of the AWACS as it climbed away.

EA-3 AWACS Takeoff from Tinker AFB

Seen on the right are a C-130, three KC-135 tankers, a B-52, and another AWACS. You can tell the AWACS because of the black and white saucer on top of the plane. That holds the airborne radar system.

The fun thing is, there’s another seven shots of the AWACS bird as it climbs away from the field. You can see them by clicking on [view larger map] on the BB post, or you could go to Google Earth and look up Tinker AFB yourself.