In 2012 Google introduced photo spheres for its Android devices. At first users could only upload panoramic photos. In 2014 Google started to allow iOS (Apple) users to contribute to the online mapping program by uploading 360-degree views of sites around the world. So, now we have lists of the best photo spheres from around the world, capturing both urban and rural landscapes, allowing you to be a virtual tourist anywhere around the globe (so long as someone has published a photo sphere!)
As for Google Spheres and their usefulness, they can provide us a look at how a place once looked. They'll be valuable in showing the change that takes place in cities (hopefully for the good.)
So, I set out to find out where some of the more interesting photo spheres are located in Houston.
So, here are some of the best (and worst) Google Spheres in Houston:
Downtown Houston's Houston Chronicle Building
This will be a view preserved digitally, as the former Houston Chronicle Building at 801 Texas in Downtown Houston is set for implosion at some point.
Houston Skyline from the Sawyer Heights Lofts
The view from atop the Sawyer Heights Lofts is a great one, especially with the sun setting and Houston glowing. However, it gives a depiction of the sheer number of air conditioners and parking spaces that occupy Houston.
This lot on the south side of the Near Northside, just north of I-10, plays home to a bunch of BMWs. If you've been to St. Arnold in the past year, you've likely seen this.
Fonde Recreation Center
This is a timeless photo of Houston's Fonde Recreation Center.
Eleanor Tinsley Park
Buffalo Bayou after a flood as seen from Eleanor Tinsley Park
Zeke Digital Marketing
If you're looking to film a commercial or need a website created, here's your place. (Not an official endorsement. But, it's ambitious putting this in your home, then throwing a Photo Sphere out there.)
Two-Headed Studying at U of H
If you're studying for a big exam, it's probable that two heads are better than one. Except when you're digitally embedded forever in a Photo Sphere.
Dean's Bar in Downtown Houston
Downtown Houston's Chase Building
Gone are the days of magnificent bank buildings. At least this one is still around.
Downtown Houston Skyline at Night
You won't even recognize this eastern portion of Downtown Houston, as it now is home to the Greater Houston Partnership Building, as well as the Marriott Marquis hotel.
Avenida De Las Americas
As the construction of Avenida De Las Americas finishes up, and the facade of the George R. Brown Convention Center begins to take shape, we can always be reminded of what it looked like during construction. Also in the background is the Marriott Marquis hotel,
Monument Au Fantome
From inside the Monument Au Fantome at Discovery Green
Art at Winter Street Studios
Houston Heights Medspring
Take a look inside the Medspring building as it was being constructed at the northwest corner of Heights Blvd. and 11th Street in the Houston Heights. I'm not sure why this was of interest to anyone to capture as a Photo Sphere, but with all that concrete we can be assured that this is a sturdy building.
Picnic Tables - University of St. Thomas
If you're feeling stressed, digitally hang out at these picnic tables on the campus of the University of St. Thomas. If you're at your desk for lunch, throw this on your monitor, and you'll feel like you're having a picnic instead.
Midtown's Bagby Park
the distortion of the buildings in the background is the real winner here. But, Midtown's Bagby Park is always ready for a photo.
Anywhere, Houston Strip Mall
There is no shortage of brightly lit strip malls in Houston.
A student captured an art class at Lone Star College's Victory Center on Victory Boulevard in the Acres Homes area.
Now that Houstonians can no longer visit the SkyLobby of Chase Tower in Downtown Houston, it's important that we have this Photo Sphere. This offers one of the best panoramic views of Houston (or, at least about a 270 degree view of Houston's expanses).
Holiday Inn Newscast
These Photo Spheres capture some sort of news broadcast atop the Holiday Inn in Downtown Houston. It involves a creative rearrangement and utilization of patio furniture.
Downtown Parking Lot (Fresh Yellow Paint)
There's nothing finer than a large parking lot in an urban area with a coat of fresh paint.
Women's Restroom at the Lonestar College Victory Center
I'm not sure why anyone is enamored with the women's restroom at Lonestar College's Victory Center, but, it must have impressed someone.
Three-armed girl at Axelrad
If there's one rule about being captured in a Photo Sphere, it is don't move! You'll end up with three arms.