Sunday, August 18, 2013

Little Tips for Armchair Research

The next time you're trying to recall exterior details on a building (or in an entire neighborhood) that's not close to you and don't have reference photos handy, try pulling up Google instead.

If you know the address, enter that into Google Maps. If you don't know the exact address but know the street and a nearby cross street, try that. If you aren't sure of the street name but can think of a local landmark, enter that and go from there. Then, open up Street View and use the arrows to "explore" until you find the right building. Turn, re-position, and zoom in or out as needed. (Google Image Search can also come in handy if referencing a historically or architecturally significant building, since interior images are likely to come up as well. That isn't the case with Street View.)

So far, I've used Google Street View to research Greene & Greene houses in Pasadena, midcentury modest houses in Orange County, pre-1930 cottages in Santa Monica/Venice, modest bungalows in Echo Park, and Storybook Ranch details in my family's old neighborhood. It can be a bit time-consuming (especially since I'm looking up neighborhoods that have older, and therefore fairly large, trees blocking some details from Google Street View's cameras - this wouldn't be a problem in a newer neighborhood with younger trees, but then, I wouldn't want to miniaturize a newer house!). That said, it definitely beats spending hours and hours (and lots of money on gas!) driving to all of these places just to look at tapered columns and faux dovecotes.

Incidentally, since my current build is meant to be a 1920s beach bungalow that saw a few additions and minor "improvements" circa 1962, I've also been poring over the archives at Retro Renovation. Many of the houses seen on the blog have been "updated" over the years and are often being restored to match the house's age, so the "before" pictures are a good resource for seeing two different eras mixed in real homes. Retro Renovation is also a goldmine for pictures of original details that newer houses just don't have. Definitely visit the site if you appreciate early-to-mid-20th-century North American houses, but be warned: it's addictive.

P.S. If Google Street View creeps you out for privacy reasons, look up your address and ask Google to blur the image.

P.S. I've gotten a lot done for the Spring Fling...but I can't show you, of course ;)

1 comment:

  1. Hello Anna,
    That is a great tip. thank you for sharing the idea.
    Big hug,