Google maps Manhattan in 3D

December 19, 2008 | 09:15

Tags: #3d #buildings #google-earth #google-maps #mapping #render

Companies: #google

Google has come one step closer to being able to simulate every aspect of our daily lives with a major update to the 3D Buildings functionality of Google Earth.

Revealed on the unofficial Google Earth Blog on Wednesday, the update adds a photo-realistic 3D model for almost every building located on Manhattan Island in New York – and it looks blindingly impressive.

While the “3D Buildings” layer has long been an option when viewing a location in Google Earth – a feature which takes advantage of the ability to tilt the image away from the default top-down view – very few places have more than a handful of buildings modelled in this way. This latest update creates an almost photo-realistic skyline, with a ridiculous number of buildings plonked on top of their satellite-imaged plans.

While volunteers and third-parties have been slowly submitting building meshes to be integrated into the overlay for the past few years, the process has occurred in a very piecemeal fashion. With Google clearly having either done some major work itself or bought building plans in from somewhere, the transformation from the sparse layout of old is nothing short of amazing.

While it is still only a relatively small island, the project does show what Google Earth is capable of in a fairly short time. I shouldn't think it'd be beyond the realms of possibility to see all buildings in urban areas worldwide mapped in full 3D in the near future.

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