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Google Maps forces Navy to redesign swastika building

Quite some time back, I came across this Swastika-shaped building via Google Maps, and posted the screengrab in my Flickr account. Since then, it became one of my most popular Flickr pictures, since strange stuff like this can become quickly viral. Loads of people (16,000+) have viewed the photo’s page, and then various journalists contacted me and posted the photo on news stories in Europe and elsewhere. Here it is:

Google Map of Swastika-Shaped Building
(click to view swastika photo profile page)

I researched the building and found it was a Navy building, apparently built unintentionally in the shape of a Nazi Swastika in California. This was built way before people anticipated the general public would be viewing buildings from the sky all that much, but now the easy accessibility of viewing satellite pics from Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Mapquest, Microsoft Live Maps, and other utilities have made birds-eye-viewing all too common. I photo-blogged the info I researched on the Flickr page, and quite a few people commented and favorited the unusual picture over time.

Today, CNN reported on the swastika building, and they added one really interesting new detail: the Navy has received so much flack about having a swastika-shaped building that they’re now planning to change the shape of the building when it’s viewed from the sky to obliterate the swastika shape. They’ll be adding landscaping and structures at a cost of something like $600,000 to just make the shape less offensive to people viewing from airplanes and satellite pics!

Now, I’ve posted before about how people have been increasingly using rooftops and such to communicate advertising messages to people viewing via the online mapping systems, but this has to be something of a first — an actual building profile is being changed for the sake of PR because of online maps users!

(It should be noted to avoid any chance of confusion: I am not affiliated with any sort of neo-aryan organization, and I vehemently decry racism. In fact, my family is of mixed-race as well. I’m displaying this pic as an interesting news item related to online maps, and do not wish to offend anyone at all.)

UPDATE: here’s the Associated Press story on the Navy Barracks redesign.  That story reports: “The Navy decided to alter the buildings’ shape following requests this year by Anti-Defamation League regional director Morris Casuto and U.S. Rep. Susan Davis.”

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30 comments for Google Maps forces Navy to redesign swastika building »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    OK, counterclockwise swastika = nazis

    clockwise swastika = the sun and the hindu god Vishnu.

    The swastika is found in the art of the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Celts, Native Americans, and Persians as well Hindus, Jains and Buddhists for hundreds of years.

    From the ground it’s really a functional design, ample windows/air flow, you’re spending $600,00 0 to fix it because 30 people in the world will be able to see it?

    Your tax dollars at work ladies and gentlemen.

    Comment by pet stanchek — 9/27/2007 @ 1:56 pm

  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    Hey, Chris, thanks for your small part in helping the U.S. government waste our tax dollars. I mean, it’s not like they need the help, but your calling attention to something as ridiculously inconsequential as this is really appreciated!

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 9/27/2007 @ 3:40 pm

  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    Hee! That’s kinda funny “Anonymous Coward” – actually, I was by no means the first to point out the building’s odd shape. This was well into internet circulation before I mentioned it.

    There are quite a lot of internet users who’ve become fascinated with the things they can see via the satellite pix now. Folx look for roof signs, nude sunbathers, UFOs, hurricane damage, sea current patterns, urban development issues, and much more.

    I just report on some of the interesting stories going around. I never recommended changing the building profile. But, I can understand the sensitivity of people who have.

    I think it’s the catalyst that people most disagree with in this. If a government building needed a general landscaping and structural renovation, hardly anyone would blink at a $600k pricetag.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 9/27/2007 @ 5:38 pm

  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    Uhh, dude. This WAS all over the internet. I could name a couple of joke websites off the bat that had a FIELD DAY with this image. Let em change it, it’s not like they’re busy hounding people in men’s rest rooms looking for gay sting busts.

    Comment by Hatchet Sai — 9/27/2007 @ 5:39 pm

  5. MyAvatars 0.2

    Technology News for September 28, 2007…


    Trackback by Tips — 9/27/2007 @ 10:08 pm

  6. MyAvatars 0.2

    A ridiculous waste of money. Another classic case of an imaginary slight causing a furor (not fuhrer) and costing we the taxpayer a lot of money when the country needs every penny it can get.

    Comment by Tom G. — 9/27/2007 @ 10:53 pm

  7. MyAvatars 0.2

    It took until Google Earth before anyone knew what it looked like? Did the builders just make it up as they went along or did they have blueprints drawn by an architect?

    Many hundreds of people would have seen those plans. What’s truly amazing is that it took until now for anyone to say anything, not to notice anything.

    Comment by Jeff — 9/28/2007 @ 12:03 am

  8. MyAvatars 0.2

    Anyone read 1984? We seem intent on rewriting history in many ways. In this case we’re supposed to erase around 3000 years of a extremely strong symbal of peace and life because of a significantly shorter period of time when it stood for evil.

    Erase 3000 years of good because of it’s association with another groups evil.

    Chalk up another win for Hitler.

    Comment by carolyn connors — 9/28/2007 @ 12:41 am

  9. MyAvatars 0.2

    To spend 600T US dollars just to correct signs/marks which can only viewed from above is totally non-sense. I suggest to paint it in green the whole rooftop and sorrounds with green trees as well. Eureka!!! Swastika no more.

    Comment by o.b.bersamina — 9/28/2007 @ 2:34 am

  10. MyAvatars 0.2


    Do you think that that money could be used by the Department of Defense to help our troops fight the war on “terror?”

    Comment by Lura — 9/28/2007 @ 4:53 am

  11. MyAvatars 0.2

    Leaving aside the shape issue, it looks like every office can see sun and courtyard. That’s nice! I bet that doesn’t survive.

    Comment by Cat — 9/28/2007 @ 6:13 am

  12. MyAvatars 0.2

    Modern Americans (Baby boomers on ward) have too much free time to worry and raise heck about pointless stuff. I suspect only a few people really give a crap, told the media who then in turn makes it look like a majority of the population has a problem. So the gov’t to appease the few must waste resources that are better off spent fighting the war or not contributing to tax hikes down the road because funds that will be needed for something really important (IDK like Health Care) tomorrow were spent on pointless feel good crap today. If the building’s design is such an issue the offended should pony up the funds to fix it since the majority in a normal day to day life is not forcedby anyone or the anything to look at the building from a birds eye view.

    Comment by J A — 9/28/2007 @ 7:08 am

  13. MyAvatars 0.2

    The extensive disclaiming of “neo-aryanism” that the author felt compelled to give in his article speaks more about the condition of our society and our collective thought patterns than the picture and article itself. Think about it.

    Comment by non_pc — 9/30/2007 @ 6:23 am

  14. MyAvatars 0.2

    With all the hype over the swastika building let’s not over look the “Nazi S S” buildings just to the west on the same naval base. (Still Looking For Hitlers Bunker).

    lat/lng: 32°41’53.09″N, 117°11’13.78″W

    Comment by Ken Bayes — 9/30/2007 @ 8:07 am

  15. MyAvatars 0.2

    This particular symbol is deeply offensive to millions of Americans — those who are Jewish, those who served in WW II in Europe and in the Atlantic (or whose fathers and brothers were killed there), and many others as well. Is it possible that the designers of the building and those who reviewed and approved the plans were not aware of the symbolic significance of its shape? In any case, the money being spent to camouflage this really bad decision is an insignificant fraction of the US defense budget. Anyone looking for unnecessary expenses in that budget can find many that are much larger and accomplish much less.

    Comment by Skip — 9/30/2007 @ 8:49 am

  16. MyAvatars 0.2

    The simplest way, and possibly the cheapest, to break up the swastika would be to build covers over the open segments creating a box with a cross in the middle.

    Comment by Wolf — 10/1/2007 @ 10:53 am

  17. MyAvatars 0.2

    The nazi swastika is clockwise, but so have other versions of the swastika been.

    To say this shape is deeply offensive is a tad pathetic. I have vast swathes of my family tree missing because of the nazis, but I blame them, not a shape that was at one point associated with them.

    But even saying all that, anything that drains the American “defense” budget away from killing people abroad is allright by me. Shit, build a brand new one in the shape of a hamburger out of solid gold, and maybe a few less Iraqis will get killed?

    Comment by Tony Cheetham — 10/2/2007 @ 5:49 am

  18. MyAvatars 0.2

    Everytime attention is drawn to a certain area. be aware in another area a worse act is taking place.
    Like, on the East Coast. A YMCA is under renivation. Estimated cost was $186,000. To this date the cost has exceeded $7,000,000. And it still is not back into service, 5 years later. Look into Mastic Beach Long Island, N.Y. zip code 11951.

    Comment by John McElhenny — 10/9/2007 @ 12:09 am

  19. MyAvatars 0.2

    In Lugano Switzerland we have an enormous fountain shaped like a giant David Stern.

    Loot at it in this pic, it’s partially covered by vegetation now.

    Is this offensive to someone flying over?

    Comment by randa — 12/29/2007 @ 3:03 am

  20. MyAvatars 0.2

    First, the Nazi swastika is like the Hindu Swastika clockwise,
    second: do you really think that the designer and builder and the ones who orderedfor the building (Navy SEALS) didn’t notice it was giant Swastika they were building? Come on!

    Comment by Dan — 1/5/2008 @ 3:36 pm

  21. MyAvatars 0.2

    You shouldn’t have to say “I do not wish to offend anyone at all”, because you haven’t done anything to warrant it. It’s an image of a building that looks like a swastika, made by someone else, that you’re bringing to the public eye. Is it advocating Nazism? Of course not. It annoys me that in this day and age you do have to put up such disclaimers otherwise people get stupidly upset and sue. Lame.

    Comment by Tomalak Geret'kal — 6/25/2008 @ 6:04 pm

  22. MyAvatars 0.2

    My guess? That someone noticed the shape back in the late 60s when it was built, but the decision was made to go ahead with it because:
    A) The layout provided lots of benefits
    B) The powers that be figured that only a select few would ever be looking down on it to notice the shape, and most of those would be other military types.
    C) At the time, there wasn’t nearly as much of this “my feelings are hurt” crap

    Comment by Chris — 7/14/2008 @ 11:59 am

  23. MyAvatars 0.2

    The government built a building in the shape of a swastika.

    The government is going to disguise it.

    If you have a problem with the money the government has spent or will spend on either venture, perhaps one should complain to the government.

    Apparently they listen to public outcry.

    Consider the 600K a cheap lesson, lest they spend $6,000,000 on another building built in a shape so obviously offensive that only an idiot would OK the design.

    Comment by Ari — 8/11/2008 @ 8:57 pm

  24. MyAvatars 0.2

    I can’t believe the crap people whine about.

    Comment by Jim — 9/30/2008 @ 12:57 am

  25. MyAvatars 0.2

    I found this quite some time ago and was a bit surprised.

    For someone to say “Let’s waste more tax dollars” when they’re to change the shape – bear in mind that the government has already taken your money via income tax (that has no law stating someone has to pay it :P) in the first place.. your money has already been wasted in the first place. What the government spends it on is inconsequential to us.
    But then again, if you woke up to find this particular design plastered everywhere, I think those who see this as a ‘waste of money’ would quickly come around to “Lets get rid of all of these” – not just for the sake of looking dumb, but it DOES offend people, clock-wise or otherwise.
    It may have been a simple oversight, but more than likely NOT. Blue prints are easily read by anyone when it’s a vertical view – try it out sometime. :)

    But in all seriousness, it isn’t this guy’s fault (who runs this article/blog/site) that anyone’s complaining about it and forcing the Navy to change it. The Navy should’ve been more intelligent (there’s a concept, even for the army :P) in the first place considering all the values they’re suposed to stand for and claim to uphold (not the same ideals the classic “Nazi” soldier upheld), and should’ve identified this earlier.

    Comment by Jon — 12/20/2008 @ 4:30 pm

  26. MyAvatars 0.2

    Here Here Jon. If the media has nothing to report, its not doing its job.. and people are not getting paid. CNN and the rest of Ted Turners propaganda outlets are the reason for the General Population believing what has been told to them. Gaza strip is being wiped out by Isreali forces; the death toll rises.. no one gives a sh*t… turn the tables.. Al Queda forces wipe out an American location or Jewish location -> Reason to spend Trillions of dollars on war and sacrifice millions of men and women in the forces. Stop crying for the poor jewish community, because thats what sells… thats what YOU are told to believe… Wake Up People and smarten up!

    Comment by Charles U. Farley — 1/7/2009 @ 10:45 am

  27. MyAvatars 0.2

    Ah. I hear you. Thanks for the info.

    Comment by blondyn_ka@girlsandnylons — 7/17/2009 @ 8:13 am

  28. MyAvatars 0.2

    The swastika is a sign of religion.
    The Hindus use it. Because of Hitler the swastika now has become a symbol of hatret when it is actually a sign of peace and inner peace.

    Lets think of the swastika as the Hindus think of it and not as a freaked out murdering miniacal sob used it.


    Comment by Alex — 7/25/2009 @ 7:09 pm

  29. MyAvatars 0.2

    I’ve noticed that when viewed from above on Google Earth, if one notices the bomber shaped buildings directly to the south of the swastika shaped building and then views the recreational area directly north of the building, the scene is a aerial work of art depicting the bombing of Germany and its subsequent ruin. You can see it for yourself on Google Earth by copying and pasting these coordinates: 32 40 34.06N, 117 09 27.78W. Shame for the navy to erase it.

    Comment by Cassider Perric — 8/19/2010 @ 10:35 am

  30. MyAvatars 0.2

    When the building is viewed in the context of the two buildings south of it and the recreational area north of it, it paints a picture of American bombers reducing Nazi Germany to ruin. Its a partiotic work of art that should not be destroyed.

    Comment by Casider Perric — 8/20/2010 @ 10:54 am

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