Saturday, February 21, 2009

Drive-by shooting at edge of campusNew street-level photo shows Radford entrance

Radford University has been the victim of a drive-by -- of a non-violent kind -- by whoever shoots street-level photos for Google Maps.

The pictures are a shot of reality when compared with Google's local map, which leads visitors into a couple of dead-ends. If you browse around the university with, you get a map that ignores several years of campus construction and omits the campus entrance at Jefferson and Fairfax streets.

Ask for the School of Communication offices at 702-704 Fairfax St., and instead of a straight route down Jefferson, you get wild goose chase directions down the wrong ends of former cross-streets Adams or Fairfax, which have been campus cul de sacs since before I got here.

With the addition of street-level photos, Google's Rt. 177 (Tyler Avenue) map shows an Oscar-like golden figure you drag to the roadway for a street-view color photo. The photo above clearly shows the campus gates where Tyler meets Jefferson -- an intersection the map version underneath insists does not exist, the gray swath in front of the forlorn golden guy.

In another Radford reality check, at the foot of Tyler Avenue you can enlarge the T-intersection's photo just enough to see a street sign saying "East Main" while the map insists you are turning onto "Norwood Street." (Maybe that was its name once?)

I hadn't noticed the local street-level pictures until a student pointed them out in class last week. I'm not sure how long they have been online, but I estimate they were taken last summer, since they still show the much-missed Joe's Diner, whose site has been a vacant lot for six months.

Google's photos show only Tyler and part of East Main; the drive-by shooters apparently crossed the New River and never came back, but you can trail them into Pulaski. The City of Radford, meanwhile, has an online Geographic Information System that provides up-to-date maps. No street-level pictures, but it has more detailed aerial photos than Google. See City of Radford GIS or

Footnote: Yes, I'll mention my headline when we have class discussions of yellow journalism.

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