August 27, 2009

You can go home again (virtually)

Thanks to Google Maps, "googling yourself" takes on a whole new meaning, especially because most addresses in the U.S. have a "street view." It does feel a little creepy at first, but only because you recognize the view. After all, for most people, more relevant "personal" information is available in an online telephone book, not to mention a credit report.

Looking at the house I grew up in reveals that the cul-de-sac has pretty much remained the same a quarter-century later. More interesting is what happened to the lot behind the house where the Mormon church used to be. As I document in a fictionalized account here, it burned down over a decade ago. Because the drainage had always been marginal for a structure that large, it wasn't rebuilt.

Two McMansions sit on the lot now. The woods are still there (again, thick shale and a high water table and upstate New York's long-depressed housing market discourage development). I spent a good portion of my childhood playing in those swamp-infested woods (this was before the present era of permanent parental paranoia), but never before had a good sense of their size (about a half-mile deep and a half-mile wide) or their relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Back then, those woods seemed to go on forever. Google Maps casts those memories in a whole new light.

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# posted by Anonymous Dan
8/27/2009 12:57 PM   

Having visited Scotia recently what stood out in my mind is how compact the geography is. There is a reason I have memories of walking from school to the dentist office or piano teacher or of biking to the school, park, or K-Mart (which no longer exists). Each of these destinations were less than 15 minutes away for the choice of transportation.

A child's perception of the world being bigger than it is is one factor. Another factor is I, like many Americans, have supersized my house, yard and commute compared to what I grew up with. Driving to Albany from Scotia, which as a kid I thought was a looong drive, is a short jaunt today compared to the drives I regularly take now.
# posted by Blogger Joe
8/27/2009 2:50 PM   
I agree with Dan. After our reunion a few years ago, I drove through Scotia. It was much smaller than I remembered. (At it appeared to not have changed. The sidewalks sagged in the same places. When we drove up State Street in Schenectady, I was startled at what a dump it is. Yes, I remembered "upper" State being bad, but not that bad.)

Looking at the map, I was surprised that the south runway at the airport isn't angled more westward. The landing pattern of the C-130s seemed much further north than the runway would indicate. They would often come right over the church parking lot. I suppose the wind was such that they came in over Indian Hills and then banked and landed. (And the C-130s are still there in the satellite picture!)