More change! Joe Biden's house is clear on Google Earth

Google Earth screenshot

Undisclosed location no more.

Vice President Joe Biden's home is now open to the public.

No, President Obama didn't reassign him to act as a tour guide on the grounds of the Naval Observatory (where the VP lives) after that ill-received joke last week.

It's just that the image of the home is now viewable on Google Earth (Google's virtual mapping software that allows you to look at cities, buildings, terrain, streets, and even outer space).


This is a change. Up until now the image of the vice president's residence was blurred. It appeared as a grey blob (kind of like Aretha Franklin's hat).

Then something changed. The view of the VP's house is now clear.

Maybe one of those executive orders that President Obama signed mandated a clearer view of the residence?


Nope. According to Google, it was just a regular update.

"Google Earth and Maps are regularly updated as new imagery becomes available," Google spokeswoman Kate Hurowitz told Gawker. "Our most recent update, which went live last week, included updated imagery of the Washington D.C. area from several providers. The imagery of the Naval Observatory comes from Digital Globe."

They report that the change happened on January 18.


And of course, everyone's talking about how this is symbolic of "change".

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow couldn't contain herself: "Just another example of setting something right after the Bush years." (video below).

Gawker's Owen Thomas gasses, "Could there be a better visual metaphor for the change of administration? The old one hid behind blurry pixels. The new one welcomes a close look."

Duncan Gere at the UK's Tech Digest opines, "With the new administration, however, Joe Biden has moved in and suddenly the house has become viewable again."

Again? Google Earth was launched in 2005. Did Al Gore have a special top-secret Nintendo-based Google Earth that showed his house back in the 90s?

Unhappy press

Regardless, there was plenty of sniping about the pixelated view of the VP's house over the years.

"What the heck is so special about Dick Cheney's official residence that Google feels the need to obscure it? Oh, must be that secret bunker allegedly built underneath it," wrote Wired's Sharon Weinberger.

She received a similar response from Google that they get their images from third-party suppliers.

Video tour

Back in 2002, while directing the White House web site, we brought you inside the Vice President's residence with a video tour of the place from Mrs. Cheney (along with video tours of the rooms and offices of the White House).

But that video footage doesn't appear to have made the transition over to the archived Bush White House website.



Before you get your hopes up, today's news doesn't mean you can zoom inside the house and check out what the vice president is doing.

It's not like that giant panoramic photo of the Inaugural we showed you yesterday where you could zoom in and get a close up of Denzel Washington or what appears to be a man mutating before your eyes.

You can just get a clearer image of what the vice president's house looks like.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.