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Street View has enabled time wasters online since 2007. It provides a glimpse into the ordinary lives of people from all over the world, exposing the mundanity of daily existence. This is an especially effective time-waster for those of us with a smattering of wanderlust in our makeup. We can explore not just the splendor of the Taj Mahal or the beauty of a mountain that gets photographed ten thousand times a year, but also the ordinary roads that make up our world. We can view a typical Romanian gas station or rural architecture in Kyrgystan. It provides an opportunity to see how the world really is.

The compiling of images from around the globe represents a massive amount of data. We are fortunate to have such a repository at our disposal. That said, most of it is completely devoid of any interesting characteristics and not much more than a record of some existence. However, among the many trillions of pixels are some digital gems. For years, Street View has served up a healthy dose of fascinating material from the streets of most countries around the world. Some of these appear to be staged while others are completely random. Regardless, here are ten of the best photos from the annals of Google Street View.

Horseman

Vancouver Horse Boy

Out in the wilds of suburban British Columbia sits the legend of the Horseman who eats bananas. Only a couple of miles from a public golf course, an RV park, and a transmission shop sits a legend and a myth. At the end of a driveway in a wooded neighborhood sits a man with a horse head at a small bistro table casually holding a peeled banana in his hand. Accompanying him are a pair of plastic pink flamingos and a small flower arrangement on the table.

The question that comes to mind is how this was set up. The image is archived from 2014, so it was years since Street View started capturing the world frame by frame — this horse person must have had advanced knowledge to be there at the right time. The effort is commendable and horse guy deserves kudos for a well-played appearance.

Pigeon people

Pigeon people

Japan is known for many things. The country has a rich culture full of interesting art, amazingly delicious food, and apparently, people who stand along the street wearing pigeon masks. The Japanese know how to have a good bit of fun. They are the inventors of anime and have some completely bonkers game shows. They also have amazing arcades and a bizarre car culture. Their streets are generally impeccably clean and it is said you can lose your wallet in the middle of Tokyo and odds are good it will be returned to you.

With all that Japan has to offer it is an interesting place to tour via Google maps. Street view offers a view of Japanese life with all the small streets and traditional houses merged with the metropolises and pigeon people. On Tamagawa Aqueduct Greenway is where the pigeon people are found. At least in 2013, they were captured by a Google Trekker. Trekkers are like the Street View cars, but on foot, with the 360-degree camera mounted on a backpack. It is possible these pigeon people are always out there, but, more likely, this is a Street View stunt for all of us to enjoy.

The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne's house

The Flaming Lips are an American rock band from Oklahoma City known for their cinematic live shows featuring laser lights, beach balls, and singer Wayne Coyne walking across the audience in a giant inflated bubble. They achieved success in the early nineties with the hit song She Don’t Use Jelly and later developed a cult following among fans in the jam band scene. Coyne grew up in the OKC area and has stayed true to the area by living in the same house in a blue-collar area of the city despite his success in the music business.

The eccentric aspects of his music and live performances bleeds through into his personal life and made an appearance in one of the earliest versions of Street View. Pitchfork reported on this in 2010, referring to Coyne’s image as a freak-prophet, and explained that the scene captured by Google was set up as a Halloween lawn decoration. In the image can be seen a bathtub purportedly with Coyne sitting in it, a banner inscribed with "blob in the bath," and various other blurry spooky accouterments. Fortunately for us, Google preserves old versions of Street View and it can still be seen today. Also fortunately for us, resolution of Street View images has increased dramatically and recent images are much clearer than this early one.

The Stig

Scotland Stig

Top Gear is a British motoring program that has been on the air in some format since 1977, according to the BBC. It had been resurrected in 2002 after a cancellation into a worldwide phenomenon featuring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James Maye, and a tame race car driver who never utters a word from beneath his crash helmet, The Stig.

While the show became wildly successful, The Stig, dressed head-to-toe in a white flame retardant racing suit with accompanying gloves and helmet, tested cars for time trials throughout the series and became one of the most iconic features of the show. The Stig’s popularity grew with the show so much that he became somewhat of a meme in certain circles. His helmet pops up all over the place from doodles in high school textbooks to fields off the side of random Scottish highways. Here we see the Stig in 2009 off the A82 highway a bit south of Inverness in northern Scotland. It is not clear if this is an official BBC stunt or just another fan favorite.

Privacy is of utmost concern for Google

Cambridge Cow

Having brightly wrapped cars running around town with an array of cameras jutting out from the roof is for most people just another day in town, but for some, it is a bridge too far. While Google wanted to map out the entire planet and offer a glimpse of everybody’s home to the rest of the world, some cried foul about privacy. Because of those concerns, Google responded.

In all images captured by Street View, license plates and faces are automatically blurred. This has been enough to assuage the concerns of most people up until now, and the algorithms that do the blurring seem to do a pretty good job. However, since computer programs are created by humans and humans are not perfect, computer programs are not perfect. This image has the algorithm going a little too far as this cow in Cambridge shown here likely has little concern for its privacy…or anything for that matter.

A Gaggle of Googles

Street view cars

Since 2007, specially equipped cars have been traversing the globe photographing in every direction so that we may enjoy this thing called Street View. It seems a small miracle such a vast undertaking could be accomplished, but with enough people, enough money, and enough fortitude, anything is possible. It helps now that Street View has well over a decade of data collection.

The cars are generally compact hatchbacks that are economical and small enough to fit in tight city streets, but also large enough to fit the camera equipment on board. These cars travel the country nonstop and update views in some places yearly and less so in others. But what happens after a shift? The cars and their drivers have to go somewhere. It would be fun to think they all end up at a marina in Monterey, California, when they no longer serve their purpose and can live the rest of their days in peace by the ocean. Maybe they do.

Hidden corporate offices

Google Munich

In regards to privacy, Google is proactive. The algorithm blurs faces and license plates automatically, as noted above. However, for some, that is not good enough. If requested, Google will blur your house or other building, such as an office. This is just what happened in Munich, Germany. It just so happens that the building that had been requested to be blurred also housed corporate offices for Google itself. They had to blur themselves out of Street View.

Most of Germany is not included in Street View due to privacy laws and a general attitude towards privacy in Germany that goes back decades. Big Think explains that the collective experience of having been terrorized by the Gestapo first and later by the Stasi has affected the populace today. Google mapped out 20 cities and ran into so much trouble it has left Germany largely without Street View to this day. This building is no longer blurred, but there was a time in Munich that it was unavailable on Street View.

More horseman

Horseman in Scotland

Scotland has given the world many wonderful gifts. We can thank the Scots for fine whisky, bagpipes, golf, and Sean Connery. Their homeland is a beautiful land of hills and forests with abundant shores by the sea and some of the most scenic driving routes on the planet. It is not uncommon to come across a traditional sheep farm or a highland cattle ranch and even the occasional horsehead man on the road.

Well, Scotland may be known for its wool, but not necessarily a horsehead man. But seriously, what is going on with people in horseheads on Google? It appears here there was a couple at one time waiting for the Street View car to cruise past what looks like some sort of timber or firewood lot. It also looks to be a busy place as photos along the timeline show many cars coming and going over the years. But it is the initial Street View sighting of 2009 that gives this section of the planet off Hazledene Rd. near Aberdeen a tiny bit of fame.

It takes all kinds

Maryland shenanigans

Shenanigans happen the world over, and it is our good fortune Google Street Views cars are often around to capture them in action. One such example of a couple of ne’er do wells partaking in some truly bizarre behavior happens to be in our own backyard in the state of Maryland.

This occurred on a sunny day in 2012 in Severn, Maryland, a fairly standard American suburb nestled squarely between the city of Baltimore and our nation’s capital. The scene is mesmerizing and brings up way more questions than answers. Is this staged for Street View or a random happening? Why is there a big screen TV in the street? Is this a hazing or a religious rite? Are they signaling to their alien overlords that it is time to arrive and wipe out the human race because we have clearly done way too much damage to our planet and there is definitely no turning back now? Who knows? It shall remain one of life’s greatest mysteries.

T.A.R.D.I.S.

TARDIS in London

The BBC’s Doctor Who has delighted millions of fans for a half-century with the delightfully quirky sci-fi character of The Doctor. Hailing from the planet of Gallifrey, The Doctor is the last in a line of alien beings called Time Lords and his preferred mode of transport is his Time And Relative Dimension In Space machine. The key features of the TARDIS are that it can travel to any point in space and time, it is the form of a British police call box from 1963, and it is bigger on the inside than on the outside.

Obviously, the TARDIS is a fictional thing from a TV show. However, as with all things popular on TV, many physical iterations of the show’s set have become real in forms ranging from keychains to life-size replicas. Among the life-size replicas is a stand-alone police box residing on a street in London and if you venture to the correct address on Street View, you can enter the TARDIS and venture around its bigger insides. Google is known for including a great many easter eggs and other delightfully silly distractions within its apps and services, and the TARDIS is a clever bit that is a real crowd-pleaser for the fans. Here is a link with instructions on how to get inside the box.