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Google Maps forces Navy to redesign swastika building

Quite some time back, I came across this Swastika-shaped building [1] 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 [2], 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 [3] 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 [4] 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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