Recover your “old” Neighborhood using Google Maps

If voting for elected officials every four years is supposed to teach Americans about their rights to choose in a democratic society, it’s only logical for them to pursue even more ways to “get involved” in the shaping of their society. But historically, in inner cities all across America, where Black and immigrant families have made their living and supported the growth of this country for centuries, when it’s come to transforming their homes, streets, and neighborhoods according to their own judgments and expertise, they’ve had little, if any choice in the matter.

Today an alternative to such an exclusionary process may be possible, but first the “old” has to be uncovered, if not recovered. So here’s how almost any city-goer with an internet connection can see the changes–or lack thereof–within their neighborhood over the last ten years in four easy steps:

I. On a laptop or home computer, go to Google Maps.

II. In the search bar, think of a familiar building or business and type in its address. For example, “Cafecito Organico,” which is at 534 North Hoover street.

III. Once the image is done loading, find the transparent “legend” that contains the address, which looks like this:

IV. Click on the tiny triangle pointing downward next to the “Street View” option. Select the year for a prior photo of the address in question. You can now see some of your favorite intersections or old businesses from as far back as 2007, which is when Google Maps first started photographing cities to develop the GPS system we use daily today.

How does the Virgil Village, or LACC area look? Learn even more about the transformation of this community at This Side of Hoover on Instagram.


In Motion

What is the best way to let a world fade? Should we watch it dim from afar, like the soft light at the end of a match-stick? Or should we walk into the dimness and allow the light to consume us like that of a tunnel?

I go through the day, and in my head, I find myself confronted by the faces of so many friends and family.

The faces of these friends and family say nothing in actuality, but the fact that they appear so suddenly in my mind makes me pause.

Their faces are like those of still characters. Like those of puppets, even, of a play that won’t materialize until I give them lines to recite.

The lines I give them are my interpretations of what they each might say about my day, based on my experiences with them from our time together before, in the life of yesterday.

And yet, the lines I give the faces of my friends and family aren’t so important in and of themselves. What is more important is the voice that they recite them in. Every voice is its own entity, crafted by its own collision of forces from the world.

And what is life at its core if not sights and sounds, and the feelings created by these things? Sometimes I think that especially as a writer, what captures me first and foremost is the way the world looks, and how it makes so much ambivalent noise.

These things speak to me in an unintelligible language which is beyond words, but which I make into words anyway in an attempt to process what they mean.

I suppose that these sensations are just like the imagination of my friends and familys’ faces, then. Maybe none of them say anything; and maybe, in the grand length of time and space in the universe, they all say exactly nothing at all.

Here and now, however, neither my mind nor my heart are content with nothingness. Perhaps when my mind and heart stop pulsing, nothingness will be just fine, but while I’m still here, I want everything, including contradictory things:

I want to know how my friends and family are doing, at the same time that I want to know nothing about them at all. I also want them to know how I’m doing, at the same time that I wan’t them to know not a single thing about me.

I understand, however, that if I wanted to find out these things or share them about myself, I’d simply reach out accordingly.

I also understand that as a great writer once said: “the past is not dead; in fact, it’s not even past.”

Because every time I speak of the times, I speak of the past; because no matter when or for how long I pause to reflect, the world is always in motion.

This is when the ambivalence becomes solid clarity:

No matter how much any light may be dimmed by the times, the times are just based on perspective; I haven’t actually lost anyone in my life, because each individual I’ve crossed paths with is still a part of my lifeline.

In the grand scheme of space and time within the universe, we are all literally on the same wavelength, overseen by the same sunlight, breathing the same air, and wandering across the same ocean(s).

We forget, though. I forget.

I become wrapped up in my words, which at their core are feelings, that seem to come from anywhere in the galaxy except myself.

Maybe, they come from my friends and family, somehow.

Maybe I am with them –as they are with me– far more than I can understand in a single moment: rising together, falling together, and picking up the pieces to continue the lifeline no matter what, together.

I can’t be too sure, but the words do help me reach a kind of peace with the times. And as my friends and family observe the words, I can only hope they help them reach a kind of peace, too.

With More Soon,