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Online help for the directionally impaired

When I first heard about Google Street View, an interactive tool that shows you 365-degree views of different locations, I was a little creeped out— especially when I viewed my home, place of work, and other local haunts using it.

I also have a strong practical side, though, and I tend to get lost easily, both in new and somewhat familiar places. As such, I can see how Google Street View may be a good resource for travelers heading to a destination for the first time, or exploring an area beyond their usual routes.

Let’s say you’re heading to New York City for a weekend getaway, and you’ve booked a stay at the Library Hotel. Before arriving, you’d like to see what the building—and the neighborhood—looks like. By typing “Library Hotel” into Google Maps’ search field and then clicking on “Street View,” you’ll be able to see views down East 41st Street and Madison Avenue (the closest intersection/cross streets), the hotel itself, nearby businesses, and other landmarks. You can do this with similar searches (specific addresses, intersections, etc.) in a variety of cities across the country.

So if you’re a little skittish about exploring a new area and want to get the lay of the land before you go, Google’s Street View may be worth a look.

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