View Larger Map I was browsing the data in an article called "25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods," and found it to be lacking. The data and maps are nice, but I wanted an actual visual of what these places look like. So I turned to Google Street View. View Larger Map The Google cameras capture the essence of these impoverished, crime-stricken neighborhoods. I looked at the maps in the article, then "walked" the streets via Street View. What I found in each neighborhoods was a portrait of urban ennui, social decay, and changing times. View Larger Map The Google cameras capture these urban wastelands quite elegantly. The impersonal camera-car rolls through the neighborhood in a vehicle equipped with a series of fisheye cameras.  In just a few minutes, I was able to see a once-stately home on a dying street in Cleveland; the bombed-out shells of row houses in Cincinnati; a  sad corner in Chicago; and much more. My favorite shot is from Orlando, on a run-down street outside of downtown. For some reason I can't embed this particular image in the blog, but it shows a humble cinderblock duplex with a dirt yard that hosts a smattering of chairs. Three individuals sit near the doors, and one can only guess at what they thought when the fancy Google car passed by. They live next door to a vacant house, and across the street from an overgrown lot. Nothing coming, nothing going. The sky is heavy with rain. It's a portrait of a life far from the city's tourism brochures. View Larger Map I only checked out a few cities before drifting off to sleep, but I may do so again in the near future. I like exploring these forgotten backroads, and while I'd love to be pounding the pavement in person, for now, and for safety's sake, I'll have to settle for a virtual stroll. View Larger Map And take that stroll now. The next time the cameras capture the street views in Cleveland and Detroit, the scenery might be gone. Both cities are demolishing thousands of homes every year in order to clean up the rash of vacant homes left behind by the foreclosure crisis. And while this might alleviate blight in the short term, these cities are losing some of the most ornate, unique homes that one day could form the backbone of vibrant neighborhoods (remember the urban renewal disasters of the 50s and 60s). For now, I'll roll with Google before it's too late.

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