Sep 25 2015

9 Disturbing Things Found On Google Maps

Google Maps has made our world smaller than it ever was; we can virtually explore every known corner of our world thanks to the technological recording of their tireless travel.

Predictably, however, greater access to the world gives us startling views of weirdness we never imagined existed; it can be funny, confusing, odd, macabre, or downright terrifying, but in all cases it’s very weird.

With Halloween approaching, it’s the best time of year to indulge in whatever makes our hair stand on end; let’s explore some of these global oddities, shall we?

9. VW Bus on Fire

It’s never a good time to see a vehicle on fire in the middle of the day on the street, but apparently it’s not unheard of in places like Brazil. This scene was recorded by the Google Street View car in Rio de Janeiro, and I saw several comments to this effect: “Oh, look! There’s another car fire in Brazil” as if it happens oh, once or twice a week or so.

To make it even worse, this is not just an ordinary vehicle on fire; it’s a Volkswagen Bus. For anyone who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, or who loves retro, that fact gives it something of an iconoclastic flavor.

Closer examination of the photo makes the total desertion of the street apart from the burning vehicle pretty glaring, adding to the overall eeriness. The guy coming out of the gate to look at it – maybe he’s the owner?  In any case, something about his posture suggests surprise, so at least we know not everyone in Rio takes burning cars as a casual everyday occurrence.


8. Abandoned WWII Era Building

If abandoned buildings are your trigger point for getting the creeps, here you go. You’re welcome. Meet the Buckner Building, a massive World War II era structure that practically reeks of creepiness.

This photo is actually recorded as being one of the furthest ends of the road to which Google Street View had access, in a very small port town called Whittier, in Alaska, USA.

It will no doubt come as a shock to absolutely no one that Whittier is rumored to be the most haunted town in America, with special emphasis on the spirits who have allegedly taken undisputed possession of the Buckner Building. Graffiti artists have tapped into the haunted atmosphere for their inspiration, spraying such charming quotes as ‘REDRUM’ on the walls to evoke the malice of “The Shining” – with no small success, apparently.

There have also been multiple reports of typical haunting type symptoms within the building; strange noises, pipes suddenly running with water, shadows glimpsed moving in the corner of the eye, and so forth.

7. Wrecked Cruise Ship

There is definitely something inherently creepy about manmade structures that have been, for whatever reason, abandoned to the pitiless reclaiming of Nature. This is certainly true of ships as much as anything else, and sometimes more so; the ghost of the Titanic still haunts us all to some degree.

The ill-fated German cruise ship pictured above was named ‘World Discoverer’, first built in 1974. Her career ended abruptly in 2000, when she struck an uncharted reef in the Solomon Islands’ Sandfly Passage. The passengers were conveyed to safety following the captain’s distress call, then grounded in Roderick Bay, where it sits to this day, rusting resentfully in the hot sun.

Perhaps no one is known to have perished aboard the World Discoverer in particularly sinister circumstances, but just look at that gunmetal gray hull, streaked with rust that looks like blood. That’s enough to stir the little hairs on the back of my neck, personally.


6. Sinister Invitation … to Whom?

This was captured by Google Street View in Memphis, Tennessee. It is an invitation inscribed on the rooftop of Peabody Place Entertainment and Retail Center, which sounds like a creepy enough place to me from the outset.

This is a bit unique in that it would be mundane, completely unremarkable in fact, if it were just written somewhere less bizarre; for instance, on a billboard, where people would be expected to read it. What makes it jarring is its location; who the hell exactly was the author of this invitation offering hospitality to? And what kind of ‘playing’ do they expect to engage in? And what kind of psych ward escapee wrote it there in the first place? Sheesh.


5. Amusement Park for Ghosts

In continuation of our theme-within-a-theme, we now come to an abandoned German amusement park captured by Google Street View. Located in East Berlin, ‘Spreepark’ opened its gates in 1969, but after years of financial struggle, the owners gave up and closed it in 2002. It was formerly open for tours after ceasing its function as a theme park, but closed to the public entirely in 2014.

It is perhaps debatable whether the feeling it evokes is more sad or sinister, but there is something terrible about the obvious air of neglect. The empty, silent Ferris wheel stands ominously against the sky, while lifelike scale-model dinosaurs lie scattered around the landscape staring vacantly upward. There is a tunnel shaped like a giant cat’s mouth, now resembling a starving maw waiting for the unwary to venture in. When we abandon what we create, it seems to reproach us silently.

4. Tour Bus Hanging over I-5

This actually happened in December of 2008; two charter buses lost control on an icy street, collided, and the result was that the Google Street View car captured this Northwestern Trailways bus dangling precariously off of a bridge 30 feet above Seattle’s I-5, after having crashed through the metal guardrail.

There is nothing eerie about this, except perhaps the oddly perfect timing of the Google Street View car in capturing such a stunning image. However, it is certainly terrifying on a purely physical level, and stands as a reminder that propelling multi-ton vehicles at high speeds is maybe not such a great idea for massive amounts of humans to be doing in close proximity to each other.

3. Giant Pink Decaying Bunny

This 200-foot long, 20-foot high stuffed pink rabbit has the exact same expression of horror on its enormous face that I had when I first encountered this picture of it. The horror was not mitigated by learning that this was, in fact, an art project undertaken by Gelitin, a Viennese art collective which knitted the rabbit together for five years before plonking it on top of a mountain in Piedmont, Italy.

Just look at that thing next to the house; the house is tiny. Can you imagine living there? What the hell has happened to their property value, I wonder? Good grief.

Finding out why the rabbit is there does nothing to mitigate the intense creep-factor either; it is there for hikers to enjoy. To enjoy. Until it decays completely by 2025, that is. Here is a lovely, reassuring quote from the artists who fashioned the monster, to make things even more intensely horrific: “Happily in love you step down the decaying corpse, through the wound, now small like a maggot, over woolen kidney and bowel,” they say. Probably they even sing it in crooning happy voices.

Brrrr. That is the sound I make when shivering. Somehow this has failed to lure me to Italy to explore the Piedmont Mountains.


2. Blood-Streaked Dock

This one does look macabre, so it’s not particularly shocking that it caused a furor over what was thought to be a murder in progress, with the murderer dragging a bleeding body to the dock, presumably in order to dump it into the water. It was a shocking thing to see, certainly, and the sanity of the murderer was in doubt from the outset, since this is happening in broad daylight to be caught on camera by good ol’ Google.

The outrage had a happy resolution, however, when it turned out upon investigation that this was, in fact, a wet dog named Rama happily trotting along after his owner after going swimming. The trail is water, not blood.

This is what we get for watching so many fascinating crime dramas, I guess. Everyone sees blood and panics when it’s just a wet happy dog on a dock. Rama’s owner took it all in good fun, however, and is quoted as stating he thinks it’s hilarious that so many people believed it was murder.


1. How Many Bodies Can Fit in One Dumpster?

And finally, we come to the dumpsters stuffed to overflowing with what appear to be mummified corpses at first glance. Google Street View caught this one in Chile, and I will admit to you that I was extremely creeped out by it. I still kind of really am, even though I know they’re mannequins.

There’s something extremely eerie about things that are almost human but not, or are human-shaped but faceless, or look human in the corners of your eyes but become lifeless when you do that inevitable double take. So yeah, it may be perfectly mundane to some retailer in Chile when it’s time to change out the old mannequins for the new ones, but when Google happens along at just the right moment, it’s anything but mundane to the rest of the world. Yeesh.