Zillow – Getting lost in Maps a cheaper alternative to traveling | Lifestyles
There’s a certain life cycle among popular things on the internet.
First, it happens. Then the trend finds its way to social media, where people talk about it and maybe it even finds its way to a publication of record. Finally, the trend is officially dead (or worse, it’s uncool) when “Saturday Night Live” does a sketch on it or it reaches your parents’ Facebook timelines.
During the pandemic, one of these trends was “Zillow surfing,” or merely looking through real estate websites at six-bedroom, five-bathroom estates selling for way more than your inheritance will cover. This trend found its way into the New York Times in November and was the plot of an “SNL” sketch with host Dan Levy (you know, Eugene Levy’s son who shot that movie in Grove City recently).
One thing I’ve always done, and probably have done even more since the beginning of the pandemic, is take Zillow surfing a step further with Google Maps. Why just look at houses I can’t afford when I can look the neighborhood where it’s located? OK, that sounds a bit creepy, but I assure you there are many great ways to get lost in Maps.
I’ll use Google Earth and Maps to plan out trips for both pleasure and business. Street View gives me an idea of what the road will look like when I need to make an exit so I can mentally prepare to merge across four lanes in Pittsburgh. There are also practical reasons, like trying to pinpoint where the Immaculate Reception monument is in reference to Heinz Field so my mom can take a picture next to Franco Harris.
I’m no Boy Scout, but I like to be prepared. And it’s a bit cheaper to look at places online than actually going there yourself.
In more popular areas (Kane, Pa., notwithstanding), you can toggle through Street View to see what the street and businesses looked like over the years. In New Castle, the default view of downtown is from a sunny day in October 2019, back when Corona was just a lousy beer and not a lousy virus. You can also go back to 2013 and check out the corner of Jefferson and Falls streets where the former Turner-Meyers Funeral Home sat in what’s now Speedway.
Just the other day I, for some reason, wanted to learn more about the layout of San Francisco and Oakland. I’ve never been to either place. More specifically, I was checking out the Giants’ waterfront ballpark. That led me to wonder how far it was from the Golden State Warriors’ new N(BA) arena (not far!), but then again not as close as the Warriors used to be from the Oakland A’s and Raiders’ stadium.
So what are you waiting for? Forget Zillow surfing and fully immerse yourself in streetscapes, old businesses of yesterday (or at least 2013) and more satellite data on your home than you’d probably prefer. For me, I’ve got a vacation to the Bay Area to continue planning.
(Pete Sirianni is the managing editor of the New Castle News. Email him at [email protected])