The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 19, 2012

Google updating Street View maps of Joplin

Want to see a Joplin that looks like it was not hit by a tornado in 2011?

On the Street View feature of Google Maps, the neighborhoods in what is now the destruction zone are still there. Trees line the streets. Toys are scattered in yards, and houses and cars are in one piece.

But with Google’s Street View cars in town last week for what normally would have been a routine update of a cityscape, the images of Joplin’s pre-tornado neighborhoods that can be found online will likely disappear — and some already have.

Street View cars have cameras that take images as they roll down public streets, and the images are processed by computer to be integrated into Google Maps, according to Sean Carlson, manager of global communications and public affairs for Google. Online, people can navigate through the digital images.

Residents who have used the service to look at old neighborhoods are eager to know if the images will be archived by Google and remain accessible, but the Globe’s attempts to have the question answered by the company have been unsuccessful.

Allison Riddle, whose family lost its home in the tornado, describes going online and seeing her old neighborhood, family business and schools that were destroyed as “weird.”

Riddle said she and her daughters have taken virtual tours of their old neighborhood, which is just down the street from where they live now. She said they even looked at a giant evergreen tree on Alabama Avenue that her daughters used to see decorated at Christmas.

“We saw our car parked in front, and saw trees and neighborhood homes that are no longer there, and saw memories like the trees in the front yard that the kids used to take pictures in front of on the first day of school,” Riddle said. “The details you forget about you can see on Street View.”

The daughters asked her to go down the street to her mother-in-law’s old store, which also was destroyed.

“We re-created the route from our house to her shop,” Riddle said. “It was eerie. Weird. It was sad. We’re not going to be able to do that anymore. Those will be gone. Our neighbors two doors down worked so hard on their yard, and now their lot is just overgrown, a pile of gravel. When you drive by it’s sad, and you can go on Google Maps and see the way it was when we lived there.”

The ability to go back and see what the actual structures looked like is “over the top incredible,” said Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex. He said the old images of Joplin’s neighborhoods in the tornado’s path have significant historical value.

“It’s a testimony to modern technology in allowing us to look into the past,” he said. “What I’ve found out through my years is that the recollections get real fuzzy and muddled..

“Everybody’s going to want to go back to that Sunday morning in the time frame of their minds. So we have somehow got to be able to capture that so we can always return back to that date.”

Pat Nagle, of Joplin, saw the Google car driving in town last week and recognized it from pictures. After the storm, Nagle used the images of what once was to get his bearings. He had taken photos after the storm in many areas that were hardly recognizable.

“Obviously it was such a major change in what the view looked like,” Nagle said. “It would be nice if there were some way that view could be preserved so we could see what it looked like before the tornado, now and in the future.”

‘Historical imagery’

GOOGLE DID NOT RESPOND to questions about whether the old street scenes will be available once the website is updated, but the search engine has a feature on which some areas may be viewed using “historical imagery.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s not Mayberry, but Carthage is close

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Mayberry. In a way, I suppose I still want to live in Mayberry, the fictional town featured in the classic Andy Griffith show of the 1960s.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin couple indicted in child porn case

    A federal grand jury indicted a Joplin couple Wednesday for alleged sexual exploitation of a second child in addition to a girl who was the subject of a preceding indictment of the husband for allegedly producing and distributing child pornography.

    July 23, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Missouri attorney general defends his support of Amendment 1

    With a large cornfield behind him and campaign signs all around, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster appeared Wednesday at the David Collard farm to tout Amendment 1, an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would make the “right to farm” part of the state constitution.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read


Have you ever served as a volunteer for your state's conservation department?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter