Google Maps Explores Monticello, Ancient Ruins, Great Architecture

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-07-07 Print this article Print

Track the Tour de France

Tour de France bicycle racing fans can track the 2013 event using several Google Maps-based tools. First, there is the Cycling the Alps site where visitors can follow the racers on maps, tracking the terrain and the course as the cyclists make their way to Paris. There's even an Android app, priced at about $2.33 at current exchange rates, for racing fans who need to stay abreast of all the goings-on from moment to moment. The site also features a Google+ page where more information is available about this year's Tour.

Explore Japan's "Battleship Island"

An eerie tourist destination that inspired the villain's secret hideout in the latest James Bond movie, "Skyfall," an old abandoned coal mining site in Japan, is now featured via images through the Google Maps Street View project. The site, on the island of Hashima off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan, has been widely known in Japan by its nickname Gunkanjima — or "Battleship Island," according to a June 28 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.

"Starting in the late 19th century, Hashima served as a coal mining facility and residential complex for 5,000 people," wrote Wakaba Ohkura, program manager for Google Maps, on the post. "After the decline of coal mining in the 1970s, however, the island became completely abandoned, only opening up again to tourists in 2009.

"Hashima has transformed into an eerie tourist destination where you can see a once-thriving town decaying and totally devoid of life. Apparently, Hashima's buildings are deteriorating so rapidly that you can hear parts of the concrete collapse as the wind blows from the ocean," he continued.

The new Street View images give virtual visitors 360-degree panoramas of the abandoned ruins, wrote Ohkura. "Winds have been very unkind to Hashima over the last several decades, and with the buildings falling apart, we hope this imagery can serve as a digital archive of its current state before further collapse. Today, you can virtually explore the ruins of Hashima, pretending you're James Bond waiting to be rescued. If you are really inspired, you can visit the real place next time you get down to Nagasaki, Japan."


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