The VICE Channels

    Google Street View Captures Stunning Images of American Poverty Too

    Written by

    Brian Merchant

    Senior Editor

    Everyone has dropped a city or an adress from around the world into Google Street View, tooled around. We’ve marveled at the new frontiers such access presents, the infinite cool shit you can find: famous landmarks, underwater scenery, wacky candid moments with Wayne Coyne, uncanny and violent incidents spots where famous album covers were inspired, etc, you name it. We worry a little bit about the voyeuristic nature of our afternoon enterprise, but we’re mostly comfortable with peering down on Copenhagen and San Francisco and Perth. This is fair game on Google’s earth.

    Until you do what photographer Doug Rickard does and use the View to go into America’s own impoverished backyard. Then it suddenly makes you pretty uncomfortable. It seems inappropriate. Because the scenes he shares don’t look like anything most Google Street View users would expect to find in the United States; scenes of crumbling city blocks, of vacant lots, of boarded-up homes.

    He calls the project A New American Picture. As Rickard notes in the video above, sometimes all he does is type in Martin Luther King blvd in a certain city and stars clicking onward to find his images.

    Many are beautiful, all are striking. This is New Orleans:

    And this is Jersey City.

    Here’s L.A.


    The great irony underlined in this project is of course the fact that this widely-heralded futuristic technology has captured so many scenes of people frozen unwittingly in the past. Silicon Valley has no business here.

    The Google Street View car rolls through these streets, collecting magnificent images of this ignored world for rich people who never look at them.