Hacked Google Street View Places Greenery Into Concrete Jungles

Hacked Google Street View Places Greenery Into Concrete Jungles

A web experiment with Google Maps shows what your block would look like if plants took over the world.

Rachel Pincus
  • 17 march 2014

If you could put trees and plants anywhere on your block… where would they go? Urban Jungle Street View, a fun web-development experiment by Swedish developer Einar Öberg uses a supposedly off-limits (according to the Google terms of use) part of the Google Maps API – the depth data – to turn your everyday haunts into beautiful, defamiliarized scenes lush with plant life, carefully placing plants and crawling vines all around.


You can enter any location into the search bar that pops up when you load the project and it will generate all the necessary gorgeousness for you. Though it uses Google Streetview visuals, the project takes cues from Jaume Sanchez Elias‘s street panorama viewer, which allows you to spin around in streetview scenes and view them like panoramas, focusing more on aesthetic beauty than getting from point A to point B. The illicit depth-mapping library is available on Github as GSVPanoDepth; Öberg defiantly noted on Twitter that he was “Breaking terms of use like it’s no tomorrow,” and discussed with several users about how innovative projects like his often are an effective argument for their own permanence and remain up longer than they should.

The overall effect is impressive, looking both both primeval and apocalyptic. However, as the Öberg points out, “Some locations need a little more imagination than others,” as much of the foliage is designed to ‘crawl’ around tall buildings. It makes you think about how our streetscapes might look longer after the human race is gone – or what we can do to improve them right now.

Einar Öberg // Urban Jungle Street View

Sources: Google Maps Mania, Prosthetic Knowledge

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