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Landscape changes Google Maps can be scary and comforting at the same time

  1. Dec 29, 2012 #1
    Don't know where to put this really ..

    Just looked at an 1845 map of the area I was raised in and compared it to Google maps. There has been a tremendous amount of change, with industrial works, schools, roads - castles even -disappearing from the landscape and new roads and buildings appearing in places where once only the wildlife held sway. Even the 1907 map was less built-up (although the remains of that castle seem to have been buried under a race track) and the place where I lived from 5 to 12 was just fields. Much change has happened since I was a boy - the road where one set of grandparents lived is no longer there (mind you, the road wasn't there in 1892 but was in 1908 - looks like the result of building as many houses as practical in a remaining area occupied by few properties), one of the fields I walked is now home to a motorway (I think that's called a "freeway" in the colonies) and the little brook I used to dam is no more ... buried under the same 'civilizing' (ie, flattening of the area to build new houses) that took the little gullies I jumped my bike over. Even while I was a boy, my favourite pond (well, more of mini lake and marsh) was concreted over, leaving me mourning my "friends" the frogs, newts, fish, snails and reeds.

    On the other hand, it was nice to see that a particularly large oak I used to climb is still there as well as the 'new' parade of shops where I climbed along the outside of the 2nd floor walkway railings.

    However, it does leave me wondering how far the average urban or suburban child has to travel before they can encounter a bit of nature they can explore and play in and how that distance changes over time ... of course, I'd have kittens if I saw any of my children doing half of the things I used to do.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2012 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    I think it is a function of where you live, more than other factors.

    I'm in New Mexico, so let's compare that with Texas. The biggest sprawl here is Albuquerque. In Texas I think Dallas/Ft Worth wins the sprawl award.

    In Albuquerque there are about 100 miles of bike trails and hiking trails along the Rio Grande Bosque (flood plain) and adjacent open spaces in the Sandia foothills.

    I have not seen anything comparable in Dallas/Ft Worth, generally IMO because there is very little public land in TX.

    I'm fairly old. And when I was little, just like you, outside Washington DC proper there was a lot of open space. Almost every wooded area I knew about is now wall-to-wall housing, because of uncontrolled urban sprawl. There are still small parks and the wooded area bounding the North Branch of the Potomac River - about 15 miles - has been preserved.

    So urbanized Maryland is between extremes: urbanized Texas -> urbanized New Mexico.
    The primary difference with the NE US corridor vs the Southwest: the sprawl goes from Boston to way South of DC. In Texas or NM you can drive for one hour and be out of the suburbs (not at rush hour....)

    The used-to-be cute little towns in Maryland are all mushed into one unending blob of suburbs.

    Sounds like hometown suffered the same fate.
  4. Dec 30, 2012 #3
    Indeed, the fate seems to be a world-wide one. The coast of (Greek) Cyprus is a good example - what was open beach with little or no permanent human presence is now a strip of buildings. The village my wife grew up in used to be isolated by fields but now forms part of the tendrils of Greater London that stretch out beyond its boundary, the M25 - a motorway that surrounds London and huge swathes of Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Essex (the M25 is referred to by locals as the largest car park in the world due the free flowing nature of traffic during rush hour - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M25_motorway#Popular_culture ). Greater London itself is a classic example of urban sprawl and the way it soaks up communities - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_London
  5. Dec 31, 2012 #4


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    We moved here in 1993, there was nothing but fields and cow pastures for miles, now it's all apartments, houses and strip malls. It's amazing how quickly everything got paved over.
  6. Dec 31, 2012 #5


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    We had a tsunami here, which led to some road reconfigurations. Other than that it's all been developmental; clearing trees and constructing buildings.
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