Satellite Stories

Written by Robert

Google Earth has a great feature where you can go back in time and look at previous satellite images.  In most metropolitan areas, the images are fairly good quality until about the year 2000 and then they get a little rough.  In most populated areas, you can get images back to the mid nineties.  In some areas, they've augmented the data with aerial surveys.  In those cases you can get data much father back.  For instance, at my first home in San Francisco, you can go back to 1938,  In downtown Portland, the aerial survey images go back to 1952.

Lets take a look at some satellite imagery of the going queen and see what useless information we can glean from them.

 July 2015.  This is the most recent image on Google Earth.  On the property, you see the house, garage, an RV, and temporary structure with a white vinyl covering.  You also see a Sprinter van on the street.  In the upper right corner of the property, you can see how the black berries have grown over the junk.  You can just barely see small boat poking out from under the berry bush.

July 2015.

This is the most recent image on Google Earth.  On the property, you see the house, garage, an RV, and temporary structure with a white vinyl covering.  You also see a Sprinter van on the street.  In the upper right corner of the property, you can see how the black berries have grown over the junk.  You can just barely see small boat poking out from under the berry bush.

 April 2015.  Almost the same, except the temporary structure had a blue top this year and it looks like an umbrella is opened up.  Notice how clear you can see the small boat earlier in the year before the black berries have crept over everything.  Also, notice how much less greenery is in the area between the RV and the temporary structure.  This one was taken 4 months earlier before a lot of the seasonal growth kicks off.

April 2015.

Almost the same, except the temporary structure had a blue top this year and it looks like an umbrella is opened up.  Notice how clear you can see the small boat earlier in the year before the black berries have crept over everything.  Also, notice how much less greenery is in the area between the RV and the temporary structure.  This one was taken 4 months earlier before a lot of the seasonal growth kicks off.

 July 2014.  The Sprinter van is on the other side of the property.  The RV however hasn't moved.  The vinyl covering is white and torn.  They must have replaced it with the blue tarp the following year because it ripped.

July 2014.

The Sprinter van is on the other side of the property.  The RV however hasn't moved.  The vinyl covering is white and torn.  They must have replaced it with the blue tarp the following year because it ripped.

 July 2013.  The focus or resolution of this image isn't as good in the following years.  The Sprinter van hasn't moved, RV hasn't moved and the vinyl roof is in better condition.  They must have some winds coming there way this winter to do what it did to the roof in the preceding image.

July 2013.

The focus or resolution of this image isn't as good in the following years.  The Sprinter van hasn't moved, RV hasn't moved and the vinyl roof is in better condition.  They must have some winds coming there way this winter to do what it did to the roof in the preceding image.

 August 2012.  Same as the preceding year however the Sprinter van is gone.  This is an exciting development.  Also, notice the sidewalk on the corner.  I looks like the handicap friendly curbs were installed the preceding year.  The yellow grip pads are not there and it looks like the curb isn't ramped for wheel chair access.  You can also see that new concrete color in the preceding image.

August 2012.

Same as the preceding year however the Sprinter van is gone.  This is an exciting development.  Also, notice the sidewalk on the corner.  I looks like the handicap friendly curbs were installed the preceding year.  The yellow grip pads are not there and it looks like the curb isn't ramped for wheel chair access.  You can also see that new concrete color in the preceding image.

 August 2011.  Same story as the next year.  However, I think the vehicle in the front of the house may be the Sprinter Van.  Sometimes the satellite images are difficult to read.  You can't make out the sunroof on the van but that could be a reflectivity issue.

August 2011.

Same story as the next year.  However, I think the vehicle in the front of the house may be the Sprinter Van.  Sometimes the satellite images are difficult to read.  You can't make out the sunroof on the van but that could be a reflectivity issue.

 August 2010.  Confirmed, the van is there in 2010.  Also, notice that in the previous images that you don't see a white gutter leading from the deck towards the RV.  This must have been added in the winter of 2010 because it's not here now and not in the older photos.  You'll also notice that the 2nd floor deck around the house looks like it's in pretty good condition.  If you scroll back up, you can see it deteriorating.  The previous owner passed away in 2016 from (I think) Parkinson's.  If that is true, based on these photos, it looks like he started to get really sick in 2013 because that is when it appears that the property takes a turn for the worse.

August 2010.

Confirmed, the van is there in 2010.  Also, notice that in the previous images that you don't see a white gutter leading from the deck towards the RV.  This must have been added in the winter of 2010 because it's not here now and not in the older photos.  You'll also notice that the 2nd floor deck around the house looks like it's in pretty good condition.  If you scroll back up, you can see it deteriorating.  The previous owner passed away in 2016 from (I think) Parkinson's.  If that is true, based on these photos, it looks like he started to get really sick in 2013 because that is when it appears that the property takes a turn for the worse.

 July 2009.  It looks busy on the property this year.  Lots going on.  Lots of projects.  The van hasn't moved compared to the preceding year.  And, obviously, the RV hasn't moved since the first photo in 2016.  I just noticed the boat in the upper right corner isn't there.  I don't think it was in the prior couple images easier so maybe that was a late addition to the collection.

July 2009.

It looks busy on the property this year.  Lots going on.  Lots of projects.  The van hasn't moved compared to the preceding year.  And, obviously, the RV hasn't moved since the first photo in 2016.  I just noticed the boat in the upper right corner isn't there.  I don't think it was in the prior couple images easier so maybe that was a late addition to the collection.

 July 2008.  No Sprinter van.  I think it was purchased after this picture was taken.  Notice how the roses along the street are blooming unlike previous images taken in July.  This must have been a warm, early spring.  Senator Barack Obama had just won the primaries and was about to learn how Sara Palin was.

July 2008.

No Sprinter van.  I think it was purchased after this picture was taken.  Notice how the roses along the street are blooming unlike previous images taken in July.  This must have been a warm, early spring.  Senator Barack Obama had just won the primaries and was about to learn how Sara Palin was.

 July 2007.  RV is there this year.  By my count, this makes a decade with out it moving a single inch.   

July 2007.

RV is there this year.  By my count, this makes a decade with out it moving a single inch.

 

 June 2006.  Blue vinyl roof and looks like the property is busy this year.  By busy I mean it has a lot of shit on it.  It also looks like Jim was doing watering earlier in the day form the way it seems to be running across the sidewalk at the corner.  WAIT A MINUTE..  is that goddamn Sprinter van there?  Maybe it was just gone for a couple years.

June 2006.

Blue vinyl roof and looks like the property is busy this year.  By busy I mean it has a lot of shit on it.  It also looks like Jim was doing watering earlier in the day form the way it seems to be running across the sidewalk at the corner.  WAIT A MINUTE..  is that goddamn Sprinter van there?  Maybe it was just gone for a couple years.

 July 2005.  Yea, there is some kind of van out there.  Maybe is the precursor to the Sprinter.  The RV has a blue tarp on it and the vinyl roof on the temporary structure seems to be compromised.

July 2005.

Yea, there is some kind of van out there.  Maybe is the precursor to the Sprinter.  The RV has a blue tarp on it and the vinyl roof on the temporary structure seems to be compromised.

 July 2004.  HOLY SHIT!  The RV is in a different spot.  And the spot it's in is where the garage will be in the coming year.  And, it looks like there are 3 temporary structures.  Also, the roof of the house is brown.  2005 is going to be a big year at the Going Queen.  Lots of changes are coming.  Also, notice the truck parked behind the red car.  The bed of that truck is a lot less rusted that it will be in the coming years.  Scroll back up to watch the truck bed gain character.

July 2004.

HOLY SHIT!  The RV is in a different spot.  And the spot it's in is where the garage will be in the coming year.  And, it looks like there are 3 temporary structures.  Also, the roof of the house is brown.  2005 is going to be a big year at the Going Queen.  Lots of changes are coming.  Also, notice the truck parked behind the red car.  The bed of that truck is a lot less rusted that it will be in the coming years.  Scroll back up to watch the truck bed gain character.

 July 2003.  Well, the RV is on the street.  There is a small shed where the garage will one day be.  Notice that the shed goes away in 2004 and is then replaced in 2005 with the big garage.  Maybe is collapsed?  Also, there is a BIG tree in the the yard in front of the house.  That gets cut down in the next year.  You might also notice that there is a skylight near the chimney in the upper left corder of the roof in all the other pictures.  Jim must have put that skylight in sometime between 2003 and 2004.

July 2003.

Well, the RV is on the street.  There is a small shed where the garage will one day be.  Notice that the shed goes away in 2004 and is then replaced in 2005 with the big garage.  Maybe is collapsed?  Also, there is a BIG tree in the the yard in front of the house.  That gets cut down in the next year.  You might also notice that there is a skylight near the chimney in the upper left corder of the roof in all the other pictures.  Jim must have put that skylight in sometime between 2003 and 2004.

 May 2002.  RV is not in this image.  Maybe Jim and his wife Gladys were actively using it during this period.  The property looks a lot less lush compared to previous years.   

May 2002.

RV is not in this image.  Maybe Jim and his wife Gladys were actively using it during this period.  The property looks a lot less lush compared to previous years.

 

 July 2001.  Obviously, satellite imagery is getting a little rough as we move back in time.  It's interesting that the images get clearer after 2001.  Two things happened that year that may have influenced this trend: 9/11 and the release of Google Earth on June 11 2001.  Or maybe it was just the forward march of technology in general.  You can still make out the RV on the street.  It may just be an artifact of the low resolution but it looks like the fence line doesn't extend all the way to the garage.  I know Jim built the fence and I think it was finished by the time this picture was taken but maybe he was still wrapping it up.

July 2001.

Obviously, satellite imagery is getting a little rough as we move back in time.  It's interesting that the images get clearer after 2001.  Two things happened that year that may have influenced this trend: 9/11 and the release of Google Earth on June 11 2001.  Or maybe it was just the forward march of technology in general.  You can still make out the RV on the street.  It may just be an artifact of the low resolution but it looks like the fence line doesn't extend all the way to the garage.  I know Jim built the fence and I think it was finished by the time this picture was taken but maybe he was still wrapping it up.

 July 2000.  Obviously, the image quality drops off significantly here.  You can make out the driveway, the house and not much else.  There is no RV and I think we'd see it if it were there.

July 2000.

Obviously, the image quality drops off significantly here.  You can make out the driveway, the house and not much else.  There is no RV and I think we'd see it if it were there.

 June 1994.  I can draw a few conclusions from this 1994 photo.  It looks like the drive way was put in sometime between 1994 and 2000 and the tree to the right of the house is just a baby.  It's just a smudge.

June 1994.

I can draw a few conclusions from this 1994 photo.  It looks like the drive way was put in sometime between 1994 and 2000 and the tree to the right of the house is just a baby.  It's just a smudge.