Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Google Demolishes the Central Freeway

As part of its ongoing effort to not be evil, Google has torn down the hulking Central Freeway in San Francisco.

Well, almost.

I was playing around with the Google Earth plug-in for Google's online maps, which lets you pan around and fly through 3-D buildings and topographic features, when I noticed they didn't include a 3-D model of the elevated freeway structure.  Comparing the resulting freeway-less images with the real-life Street View is like looking at before and after pictures of a future in which the skyway has been torn down.  One I hope we'll someday see.

 15th Street and San Bruno Avenue in Google's freeway-less future (top) and in real life (bottom)

Play around with it for yourself, it's refreshing to see what an improvement all that blue sky can make.  More pics after the jump.

15th and Utah Streets

15th and Vermont Streets

Now let's make this a reality!


Jarrett said...

Brilliant! Realistically, of course, in the absence of the Central Freeway you'd have an Octavia-style boulevard, which would have a lot more traffic than your images show -- but probably also more trees.

Pedestrianist said...

Yeah, Google also cut down all the trees and utility poles, making the comparison a little less cut-and-dry. But you do get a sense of the vistas that would be opened up.

Also, interestingly, it sort of realigns my mental geography. Even living here my whole life, the SoMa grid shift really influences where I imagine things are in relation to one another. Being able to see from one grid into the other really changes my sense of the space.

And not to nitpick but I'd definitely hope the redesigned Division Street isn't Octavia-style. :-)

Anonymous said...


you got anything better to do with your life than play games? what are 14 years old?

Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

Great right of ways for a linear park and boulevard atop a cut and cover freeway tunnel!!!

Pedestrianist said...

Anonymous, I'm genuinely fascinated by your comment, because I can't for the life of me imagine why this post would inspire such a response (I haven't seen any referring traffic from SFGate).

My first guess is that you're affiliated with the American Institute of Steel Construction, which gave this structure an award in the '50s. But feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.