The Google “Street Viewing” of the High Line and Other Sites: Is There A Larger Impact?
At the beginning of November 2011, the Friends of the High Line announced that Google has officially made the High Line accessible via Google Street View. The project, carried out by Google in June 2011, is part of an initiative to “give virtual access to parks around the world.” The entire elevated park was mapped, from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street.
Although the street view allows people around the world to experience the High Line, particularly those who may not be able to visit New York City, it brings up some larger questions:
What does this newfound mass-availability mean for the place-based, contextual experience that can only truly be had by visiting the High Line in person? How does it alter the significance and impact of the High Line? How is the High Line’s authenticity compromised, or is it not compromised at all?
The Google “Street Viewing” of other particularly significant sites, such as world-famous architectural wonders and historic city centers, is the larger matter under consideration. With Google Street View, one can now not only view, but dynamically experience, Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, the Guggenheim Bilbao or the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo. One can even “walk” across the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
Does this diminish the value of seeing these sites in person? Or does it make seeing them in person that much more rewarding?
How do these questions relate to larger issues in preservation such as authenticity, materiality, and cultural values associated with historic sites?
For more information on the High Line’s Google Street View option, please visit:the High Line Blog.