Now it would appear this modern economic hardship has been captured on Google Street View.
For those who are not familiar, Google pays drivers to drive around cities with cameras mounted to the rooves of their cars. The images are used in Google Maps so people can see a picture of any street they are interested in.
While most Street View images are pretty uninteresting, I was looking through a blog that catalogues unique Street View images and came across the following picture.
I don’t know where this picture was taken, but perhaps this missing information underscores the point that there are people all over the country who are forced to live in storage units. It is said that a photograph is worth a thousand words, and indeed, images, like stories, can be powerful.
But this picture really caught struck me because it is so candid and unexpected. This is not a romanticized portrait of poverty. It is not a work of high art or cinemagraphic genius. This picture is more like one taken with a surveillance camera than a photographer’s.
Yet it is the very mechanized, utilitarian way in which this image was captured that resonates with me so deeply. This is the reality we have been talking about on this site, documented on a Google Map.
I hope we can erase this image from Google Street View. To be clear, I am not advocating censorship. Instead, let’s hope the next time a car drives by this Public Storage unit there is no one living there; no one who needs to live there.
However, we have to do more than hope. On Monday, Joel John Roberts wrote about how we need to consider building smaller housing units to help house those experiencing homelessness. I agreed with him before, and agree with him all the more now.
Public Storage units are small, and they do not have the proper amenities for living. Yet clearly people can, and do, live in small places. So why not build small units that are actually made for people to live in? A person living in their small apartment would make a better Street View image than someone forced to live in a Public Storage unit.
Photo credit: achimh