This is Possibly the First 17th c. Swordfight on Google Maps.

This is Possibly the First 17th c. Swordfight on Google Maps.

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Taryn Williford
Dec 15, 2008

Google Maps has a lot of great potential to help you with little life-and-home-related tasks. We've already seen it used to help you map out an efficient array of solar panels and to find the optimal location for to minimize your household's commute time. It's about time somebody recognized what a brilliant tool Google Maps, and specifically Google Earth and Google Maps Street View, has been for us.

On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley got a tip that the Google Inc. Street View team would be visiting Pittsburgh's Northside and they asked residents to help collaborate on a series of hilarious vignettes along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors, and other participants from around the city, staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more...

Street View technicians captured their usualy 360-degree photographs of the street with the unusual scenes impossible to miss and integrated the images into the Street View mapping platform. This what is possibly the first instance of artistic expression in Google Street View officially went live in November.

The scene breakdown, a participant page and some video clips are all available on the project's Web site to make sure you do virtually no work on this lovely Monday afternoon.

Our favorites:


  • Narrow Escape: Torn bed sheets form a ladder and suggest a narrow escape, but who is escaping? And from what?

  • Ham: Artist Michelle Fried donned her ham suit as proof to the sign's claim—Meats here!

  • Attention Chicken!: Nicolas Lampert's monumental chicken sculpture made its first interstate road trip for Street With A View. Hailing from Milwaukee, WI, the chicken has impressed and astounded many a Mid-Westerner. Now it's also made its mark in Pittsburgh.

  • Sword Fight: Members Askarus and Twolf of the medieval battle society Angaron (Pittsburgh's local chapter of Dagorhir Battle Games) engaged in swordsmanship and hand-to-hand combat in a grassy "battle field" at the corner of Sampsonia Way and Federal Street.

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