Tube City Almanac

April 07, 2005

The Mon Valley's a Big Brown Marble

Category: default || By jt3y

If a picture's worth 1,000 words, then consider this an 8,000 word Almanac. Via Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, I learned this week that Google's mapping feature now offers satellite views of much of the country.

For a guy who's a map junkie, is already more fun than a barrel of monkeys. The satellite photos are more fun than ... um ... a barrel of monkeys with water pistols and funny hats.

OK, so I've got nothing.

Anyway, the images also must be fairly recent --- from some of the clues, I'd say they were taken last year. Google allows you to zoom in fairly close, for pictures that are surprisingly life-like and detailed. (And you, Mr. Ignatz Stopowitz of Grandview Avenue, had better start wearing pants when you're out sunbathing.) No wonder all the U-2 pilots are looking for work.

Here's part of Our Fair City from the air:

(Here's a larger, annotated overhead view of Our Fair City and vicinity.)

The McKeesport High School grads in the audience should recognize this place. That's the "Voke" at the top and the junior-senior high at the bottom, and Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium shows up quite nicely, even from outer space.

For those of us who went to Serra, here's a view of the high school, priory and chapel, and football stadium:

This would be your regulation-type Cornell Middle School, formerly Tech High and later the junior high (left) and Carnegie Free Library of McKeesport (red-roofed building at the right):

We've been fairly obsessed (well, not really, but the topic has come up several times) with the fate of Eastland Mall recently, so for old time's sake, here's a look at that doomed shopping plaza:

Leavin' on a jetplane? You're probably not departing Allegheny County Airport unless you're on a corporate aircraft, but here's a look at the terminal and apron, as a pilot might see it:

And finally, everyone from Western Pennsylvania should recognize this ... it's the One and Only Roller Coaster Capital of the World:

(All original images: Copyright and courtesy Modified and color-corrected here for better visibility.)

Your Comments are Welcome!

This is interesting. I recently used a google map of the area and found it quite useful. A couple of years ago when I initiated my research of midwestern real estate, mapquest had this ‘satellite photo’ option.
Then one day, in order to use it, I had to establish a password, etc. because I was effectively using a new server to access this service through mapquest (I think it was Netscape). Then mapquest stopped providing the photo option entirely, and that was the end of that.
The other funny thing was that Buffalo and Pittsburgh were the only two cities in my search that couldn’t facilitate a color close-up. Too cheap to buy a good satellite? Who knows…
heather - April 07, 2005

Terraserver has 1 meter per pixel aerials of the whole US, but monochrome. Google has newer data in many cases, and color, but it’s still only 1m/pixel in heavily populated areas, and less in others.

The interface is nicer, but for the data I still prefer Terraserver.
Derrick - April 07, 2005

As for the date of the pics, one is not sure if all the coverage comes from the same time frame. I pulled up coverage for downtown Rockville, MD, where I work, and it shows one of new office buildings just being completed, which makes that photo about 18 months old. I tries pulling up a site in central PA, and was only able to get the lower resolution pic.
deane m. - April 08, 2005

Interesting observation, Deane. Some of the images seem like they were taken on different passes of the satellites, too, or maybe even from different satellites. The pictures covering the Serra High campus, for instance, had a distinct break running right through the middle, and the colors were also different from one side of the image to the other. I had to do a considerable amount of “futzing” in Adobe Photoshop the other night to get them to display decently.

It’s far from perfect, but it’s still pretty impressive.

And as Derrick point out, the heavily populated areas are the only areas with reliable, updated images —- the other areas (like central Pa.) are not as high resolution. Even parts of Westmoreland County aren’t covered with high resolution images from Google.
Webmaster (URL) - April 08, 2005

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