I discovered a few new things today. Like all great moments of learning, it started off as someone’s post on Facebook that led to an article that prompted a Google search for further information that ended in the mental download of new facts to my brain. I’m sure Einstein would be proud.

The first item had to do with a very creative and innovative solution to one of the many devastated areas of Christchurch, New Zealand, the Cashel Mall. Once a lovely little pedestrian mall that I, and many other people in the Antarctic program, was intimately familiar with, most of it had been utterly reduced to rubble during the earthquakes in 2011.

But Christchurch is slowly fighting its way back. Even though the Christchurch Cathedral is still spire-less, a good portion of the Cashel Mall has been rebuilt with shipping containers! That’s right, shipping containers. And apparently they’ve done a pretty impressive job. You can even see them on Google maps. If you want to read more about it, visit the Re:START Christchurch website, which brings me to my second point..

If you were to actually look up Christchurch on Google maps and had been there before the earthquakes, you would see an entirely different city. It had never occurred to me do this because I had no idea how often Google updated their maps. Stories and photos had conveyed the tragedy itself, but I had never been able to sit down and crawl over the city inch by inch to see what was left.

Winnie Bagoes, our favorite pizza place. Now an empty lot. The Thai restaurant across from Victoria park. Gone. Drexel’s, the American-style breakfast restaurant on Hereford Street is still a pile of rubble on the satellite view. Café Valentino, the Italian restaurant where my husband and I had our first date. Niente. I couldn’t even find where it used to be on the map. But then I did find it using “street view” because all the previously loaded images are still there even though the building is not, which is rather surreal. All the lovely little outdoor restaurants along Oxford Terrace with views of the Avon River. All gone. It really does look like a war zone.

I was going to continue on and tell you about the 11 Fascinating Facts that I learned about Google maps. But I’m kind of depressed now. So I think I’ll end this post. But if you are curious, check out the article. Supposedly Google updates their satellite views every two weeks.