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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 13:00

All Aboard! On this day 145 years ago, the cog railway opened on Mount Washington, allowing an easy route for visitors to the top of the tallest peak in the Eastern US. The cog system was the first to be built on a mountainside, where gradients reach as much as 37%. While you can walk (the very hard way up) or drive (easier, but at times terrifying), travelling behind one of the railway’s steam locomotives is the best way to go. Street View at the summit just gives us a glimpse of one of them.

Mount Washington

Locations: New Hampshire / Categories: On this day, Other Vehicles, Street Views

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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 13:00

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous I Have a Dream speech. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King addressed an immense crowd of a quarter of a million civil rights supporters. It has been called the top American speech of the 20th century.

Lincoln Memorial

Locations: District of Columbia / Categories: On this day, Street Views

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Date: Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 13:00

On August 27, 1965, Elvis Presley met The Beatles at his L.A. mansion. The English quartet were on a break from their US tour, and manager Brian Epstein negotiated with Col Tom Parker for them to meet The King. After the ice was broken a short jam session broke out, which would likely be one of the world’s most famous recordings, if only it had been committed to tape.

Elvis' Mansion

Locations: California / Categories: 45˚ Imagery, Buildings, On this day

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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 13:00

One more curtain call … the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto opened on this day in 1907, making it the longest continually operating theatre in North America. Even with a budget to build ‘the finest theatre on the continent’, the architect vastly overspent, installing Italian marble, fine woods and silk wallpaper. Many of the 20th century theatre greats trod the grand theatre’s boards.

Royal Alexandra Theatre

Locations: Ontario / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 13:00

On August 25, 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel, from Dover to Calais. His second attempt at the feat took him close to 22 hours, and while a straight-line swim would have only been twenty-two miles, he is believed to have swum close to forty in an era when navigation was harder than today.

English Channel

Locations: England, France / Categories: On this day

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "England, France, On this day"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 16:00

You're reading an entry from Google Sightseeing, which is copyright © 2014 Alex Turnbull & James Turnbull and must not be reproduced without permission.
Author: "Alex Turnbull"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 14:26

You're reading an entry from Google Sightseeing, which is copyright © 2014 Alex Turnbull & James Turnbull and must not be reproduced without permission.
Author: "Alex Turnbull"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 13:00

The legend of the Loch Ness Monster began on this day 1450 years ago, when Irish monk Columba banished a ‘water beast’ to the depths after it killed a man who had been swimming in the River Ness. (Although the reality is that this ancient history was only attached to the legend in modern times when ‘sightings’ of Nessie were reported in the 1930s.)

Loch Ness

Locations: Scotland / Categories: On this day, Street Views, Weirdness

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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 10:31

Almost six years ago I wrote a brief article for Google Sightseeing. Today marks my 200th full-length1 post, so I’m indulging myself with a look back at a few of my personal favourites. My first post was about the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a city I had recently visited. The satellite imagery is different but not really improved since that first post.

Back when I started writing there was only satellite imagery to use as a reference, as Street View coverage was very limited and poor quality, and forty-five degree imagery was not yet available anywhere. Both of those types of imagery would really have helped with what turned out (to my surprise) to be my most popular post with readers.

Published just a few weeks after my first post, Bridges to Nowhere garnered 50 comments from site visitors often annoyed about incomplete construction projects near where they lived. I’m happy to report that the A10 bridge featured in the post is now complete – as are many of those from the comments, however new imagery allows us an excellent look at a still unfinished highway section in Boston: Street View, 45°.

Bridge

Bridge

Weird and funny topics always make for good posts. Some of my favourite examples are Missing Dictator Special, Top Ten Confusing Place Names and Weird Waterways, which included these mysterious shapes in Arizona, which seem likely to be some form of alien writing.

Aliens

Superlatives are consistently popular and fun to write about, such as Longest Place Names, Largest Cowboy Boots and Hat, The World’s Longest Staircase and The World’s Largest Weather Vanea DC-3 in Whitehorse which is now visible on Street View.

DC-3

From a personal perspective, I love it when I learn something really interesting during the research and writing process. I had no idea that France had experimented with a jet-powered hovertrain, that there are huge ghost fleets of ships in Maryland and Mauritania, or that Osaka in Japan has tens of thousands of keyhole shaped tombs known as kofun, the largest one being Daisen-Kofun.

Daisen-Kofun

Another favourite topic is large-scale art projects, such as those by Henk Hofstra, James Turrell, Jonathan Borofsky and Michael Heizer, whose Levitated Mass is finally visible on satellite view.

Levitated Mass

This just scratches the surface of all of my previous posts. Thank you for reading – if you have a personal favourite amongst my posts, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. And a big thank you to Alex and James, the site owners, for allowing me to write for so long, and for all your help and encouragement along the way.


  1. The short ‘On this day‘ historical posts which we launched in May are not included in this post count. 

Locations: Arizona, Bangladesh, California, Japan, Massachusetts, Yukon / Categories: 45˚ Imagery, Bridges, Buildings, Monuments, Stadiums and Sport, Street Views, Structures, Weirdness

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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 13:00

Call Inspector Clouseau! On August 21, 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. The case was a mystery for two years until the thief (a museum employee who believed the painting belonged in Italy) was discovered when attempting to sell it to a museum in Florence.

The Louvre

Locations: France / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 13:00

Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen was born on this day in 1910. His most famous work is probably the Gateway Arch in St Louis, though he has worked on many significant buildings, and was a noted contemporary furniture designer in the 1940s and 50s.

Gateway Arch

Locations: Missouri / Categories: On this day, Street Views, Structures

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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 13:00

On August 19, 1768, St Isaac’s Cathedral in St Petersburg was inaugurated. An estimated ten thousand tree trunks were embedded in the swampy ground to provide a stable base for the immense structure. Unfortunately the primitive spray-painting method used to gild the dome was incredibly toxic and resulted in the deaths of dozens of workers.

St Isaac's

Locations: Russia / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 13:00

On this day 45 years ago, the Woodstock festival wrapped up on Max Yasgur’s farm, with bands playing through the night, including Crosby, Still, Nash and Young. Although the crowd had peaked at around 400,000 during the weekend, when Jimi Hendrix started the final set at 8:30 in the morning, only a few tens of thousands remained in the muddy field.

Woodstock

Locations: New York / Categories: On this day

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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 15:53

At the turn of the millennium, an effort was launched by a Swiss foundation to identify the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World’, through a “decidedly unscientific” polling method allowing the public to vote – online or by phone – for their favourites from 200 locations. Among the many criticisms the campaign faced was the fact that the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World should have to compete alongside much newer sites. As a result, the Great Pyramid of Giza (Photosphere by Andrey Ilyin) was granted an honorary place on the list, meaning that eight locations were eventually chosen.

The Great Pyramid – the oldest and largest of the three pyramids at Giza – is dated to around 2560BC. Having taken 20 years to build, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for close to four millennia. An estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks weighing up to 80 tons were transported from more than 800km (500 miles) away. Little of the original polished finish remains, just at the crest of the pyramid, and some fragments at the base. It is one of two locations on the list that this writer has been lucky enough to visit. This Photosphere by Dennis Sylvester Hurd.

Great Pyramid

Although UNESCO was originally involved in the project, it soon pulled out when the organization realized it was supposed to provide equal treatment to all of its World Heritage Sites, and not show any favouritism.

New 7 Wonders claimed that more than 100 million votes were cast, making it possibly the largest opinion poll ever conducted. With 200 locations to choose from (later reduced to 21 finalists), the public voting process quickly became an exercise in seeing which governments, tourist associations and/or media outlets could best galvanize the population to make the effort to support their local landmarks. Brazil was one of the most successful, with extensive campaigns getting an estimated 10 million votes to ensure that Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue appeared on the list, as the most recently-created site.

Christ the Redeemer

The 30m (98′) statue is made of concrete and soapstone; it took 9 years to build and opened to the public in 1931. Parts of the statue were damaged by a lightning strike in 2008. A major restoration followed in 2010, but earlier this year fresh damage to the right hand was sustained in another lightning storm. The statue stands on top of the 700m (2300′) Corcovado Mountain, meaning it can be seen from much of the city.

Christ the Redeemer

The other site which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting – twice in this case – is the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

Taj Mahal

The white marble mausoleum was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, with work being completed in 1653. Given the excellent Street View coverage of the whole complex, we’ll likely do a full-length post about it in the future.

Taj Mahal

The same is true of the Mayan site Chichen Itza in Mexico, which dates from about 600 AD. The El Castillo pyramid is about the same height as the Christ statue in Rio. Sunset on the spring and autumn equinoxes creates a serpent effect on one of the staircases.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

The final location on the list with Street View coverage is the Colosseum, which we visited as part of our Ancient Rome post last year. It dates to the first century AD.

Colosseum

Colosseum

Thankfully the remaining sites on the list have Photospheres which allow us to take a look at them in more detail than satellite view. The oldest of the ‘new’ wonders list after the Great Pyramid is the Great Wall of China, which dates to 700BC and stretches for more than 6000km (3800 miles) along the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. Photospheres by 고기만.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

In southern Jordan, the historical city of Petra made the list after the country’s Queen encouraged the public to vote in support of it. The city was established around 312BC. Photosphere of the Treasury by M Attef and of the Monastery by Aubrey Keller.

Petra

Petra

And last, but by no means least, Machu Picchu in Peru, probably the location from the list that I would most like the opportunity to visit. It dates to the Inca Civilization of the 15th century. A series of connected Photospheres by Ping Chen allow a good exploration of this spectacular site.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

You can read more about the New 7 Wonders of the World at their website (where voting is underway for the New 7 Wonders Cities) and on Wikipedia.

Locations: Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Peru / Categories: Abandoned, Monuments, Street Views, Structures, World Heritage Sites

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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 13:00

On August 15, 1843, Tivoli Gardens opened in Copenhagen. One of the oldest surviving theme parks in the world, this lovely enclave from a bustling city has something for everyone – rollercoasters and fairground attractions, gardens and restaurants, theatres and concert venues (see the official website for more details.)

Tivoli Gardens

Locations: Denmark / Categories: On this day, Theme Parks

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Denmark, On this day, Theme Parks"
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Date: Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 13:00

Construction of Cologne Cathedral was completed on August 14, 1880 – finishing a process which started over 600 years earlier! It claims to have the largest Church façade in the world, and the largest free-swinging bell in the world – the 24 ton St Peter’s Bell – also known as the Great Bell of Germany. The Cathedral is Germany’s busiest tourist attraction.

Cologne Cathedral

Locations: Germany / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views, World Heritage Sites

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Date: Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 21:16

You're reading an entry from Google Sightseeing, which is copyright © 2014 Alex Turnbull & James Turnbull and must not be reproduced without permission.
Author: "Alex Turnbull"
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Date: Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 13:00

On August 13, 1955, the Canso Causeway was officially opened with a ceremony involving parades and speeches, meaning that the island of Cape Breton was connected to mainland Canada, so technically no longer an island. (Rail and road traffic had already been using the 1.3km causeway for a couple of months before the official opening.)

Canso Causeway

Locations: Nova Scotia / Categories: On this day, Street Views

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Nova Scotia, On this day, Street Views"
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Date: Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 13:00

On August 12, 1898, the annexation of Hawaii by the United States was formally completed with a ceremony at ‘Iolani Palace. The islands’ Queen and other leaders refused to attend in protest of the takeover which had been in effect for more than a month already, when the former Republic became a Territory of the US.

Hawaii

Locations: Hawaii / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Monday, 11 Aug 2014 13:00

On this date 85 years ago, Babe Ruth became the first member of an exclusive club when he hit his 500th home run. Only 25 other players have reached the mark to date. Ruth’s 500th came at League Park in Cleveland, where a small part of the stadium still stands at the corner of a park.

League Park

Locations: Ohio / Categories: On this day, Stadiums and Sport, Street Views

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